Creating a business plan to promote a synthetic gel that mimics an amphibian’s ability to regrow limbs won a team of five Year 10 Buckingham School students a surprise science award at Oxford University.
They were part of a 30-strong group invited to a residental at prestigious Somerville College.
Team member Lucy Richman said: “This led to three days jam-packed with science experiments, coding, mathematical reasoning and, of course, a movie night.” There was a Harry Potter moment on the first evening when the girls had dinner at the university dining hall, which Lucy described as “very similar to Hogwarts.”
She said: “Day two consisted of a forensic science experiment. We had to work out what an unknown substance was, using a nuclear resonance machine and infrared radiation.
“We also made fuel cells through electrolysis and powered it with solar cells we made using iodine.
“Afterwards we practised coding on GeomLab, a programme created by university students. Then we had a maths lesson from a renowned mathematician, discussing the degree of the vertex.”
On their final day, they were taken to the University’s Begbroke Science Park, where they saw one company working towards curing cancer and genetic disorders, and others such as Ferrari and BP collaborating with university scientists on ever more avant garde and efficient designs.
The girls were then tasked with creating a business plan for innovative ideas picked from a hat. Lucy said her team’s synthetic gel could also be used to seal burst tyres and water pipes and increase the safety of household wiring.
Science leader Sarah Jardine said: “It’s great that we have girls so interested in science.”