CREST Gold Awards with a twist

Senior School Junior School

Although our traditional CREST placement at the Chemistry Department of the University of Warwick could not take place this year, we were kindly offered an alternative literature-based project by Professor Ward, Head of Chemistry at Warwick.

A total of 14 Lower Sixth students took part and worked in pairs or groups of three. They selected a question from a list provided by the Professor who briefed them on what to do and how to produce a high-quality written report which contained between 2000-3000 words.

The questions the students addressed are provided below:

  • How is cis-platin used to treat cancers?
  • Why is heroin so addictive?
  • How does Botox work?
  • How do β-lactam anti-biotics work?
  • Why can oxygen be considered carcinogenic?

Professor Ward highlighted, “This exercise will develop your academic muscles in many ways, it’s not just about the science that you present.”

There were four things which students were advised to focus on to produce a high-quality report.

  • Online searching – find a good set of articles, videos, journals, etc.
  • Reading/distilling – read each source and extract the key points to write a summary
  • Bring the main text together – group the summaries and combine them to tell a story
  • Finishing off – add an abstract (self-contained summary) and conclusion, also include references and figures/captions

Students worked for three weeks on their report and presentations. Their final written reports were impressive and were completed to a high standard. They were then asked to deliver a short 5/10-minute presentation to give an engaging overview of their chosen question which was also to be accessible for non-specialists.

The day of the presentations came, everyone was nervous, but it came together very well. The standard of the presentations was very high. Professor Ward marked the students written report and presentations and provided them with some excellent feedback.

The students have learnt many valuable skills from this experience. Here are some of the comments from the students to Professor Ward.

Brendan said, “These three weeks are really meaningful to us in our chemistry study. I am very grateful that you decided to continue CREST during this special time so that we had the opportunity to expand our exploration in chemistry. Your comments on our paper and presentation have benefited us a lot, and the content you told us about coordination cages is very fascinating.”

Charlotte said, “Thank you for the time and effort that you spent in order to give us this fantastic opportunity to further our scientific studies beyond the classroom.”

Harry said, “Thank you very much for giving up your time during the very stressful and busy lockdown period, your feedback is invaluable for the future and it was a brilliant opportunity to develop a wide range of skills that will be essential for whatever I study and do.”

A big thank you to Dr Casey for his expertise and help during the project and the ICT Department. I would like to say thank you to Professor Ward for providing our students with this exciting opportunity.

Mr Kalsi, Chemistry


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