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The Cheltenham Ladies' College in Gloucestershire has been chosen by The Royal Society, the UK’s national academy of science, to receive a Partnership Grant that will enable local scientists and engineers to work with teachers from the school to implement an innovative science project.
The project, titled “Red Hot Science - Chillies, Capsaicin and chocolate” will enable pupils to use chemical sensors recently developed at Oxford University to measure the heat of student cultivated chilli peppers. This project introduces students of different ages, ranging from 11-19, to electro- and organic chemistry, botany, and statistics as well as providing experience of running a self-designed research project carrying out quantitative experimental measurements. The students will be introduced to the importance of chemical sensing to the modern world.
The project offers young people the chance to meet and work with a variety of experts in electrochemical and analytical science (Professor Richard Compton, University of Oxford), agriculture (Steve Waters – director South Devon Chilli Farm) and botany (Dr Alison Foster – Oxford University Botanic Garden) and allows them to build and develop their scientific understanding in a way that is exciting, original and relevant to their everyday life.
Commenting on his role in the project, South Devon Chilli Farm director Steve Waters said: “I feel honoured to be involved in this exciting initiative and to be working with such key players in the world of science. The project will add to my long standing fascination with chillies.” To which Dr Gamblin, Head of Chemistry at The Cheltenham Ladies’ College, added: “We approached South Devon Chilli Farm with the knowledge that they are at the forefront of the chilli movement in the UK and are constantly looking at innovation in this area.”
Professor John Pethica FRS, Vice-President of the Royal Society, said: “We’re pleased to be supporting “Red Hot Science - Chillies, Capsaicin and chocolate” at The Cheltenham Ladies' College and are looking forward to seeing this imaginative project come to life over the coming months.
“Science and engineering are exhilarating and dynamic subjects and we hope that by giving teachers the opportunity to introduce innovative science that we can help show young people how much fun in real-life these subjects can be, and inspire them to become the inventors, explorers and innovators of the future.”
Professor Richard Compton of St John's College, Oxford and the University's Chemistry Department will be working in partnership with The Cheltenham Ladies' College during the next year. Talking about why he has become involved in the scheme, he said: “Our electrochemical sensors for species such as chilli and garlic will provide a platform for pupils to devise their own research projects and stimulate understanding of the impact of science and engineering upon their day-to-day activities.”
Ms Eve Jardine-Young, Principal of The Cheltenham Ladies' College, said “this project enables budding scientists and engineers to embrace an exciting cross curricular project that reflects the aims and vision of college. The direct exposure of young minds to academics will serve as a rich addition to their education”.
Teachers, scientists, engineers and industry partners interested in applying for a Partnership Grant should visit www.royalsociety.org/education.
Why not visit the forward thinking South Devon Chilli Farm and see for yourself the impressive range of chillies grown and the passion that goes into the products. When you’re there, enjoy a coffee and lunch in the stylish café whilst taking in the beauty of South Devon countryside. South Devon Chilli Farm’s range of products are available nationwide in delis and independent stores and are also available online at www.sdcf.co.uk.