Students learn that 'It's a Bug's Life' for microbiologists

Chaucer School in Sheffield has become one of forty-five organisations across the country to be awarded The Royal Society's prestigious Partnership Grant, to allow students to investigate the fascinating world of microbes in a leading centre for life sciences research.

The grant will allow 25, year 10 students to spend three days starting Wednesday 2 July, in the new science laboratories at the University of Sheffield's Department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, learning about microbes and their importance in modern science and industry. Drs Jeff Green, Julie Grey and Mark Wentworth from the University will be teaching the children skills and techniques used by modern microbiologists in laboratories worldwide in research on the development of new antibiotics.

Dr Fiona Aitken, a science teacher at Chaucer School who conceived the project explained, "Our aim is to raise the achievement of our year 10 students by giving them the opportunity to learn about microbiology in a high-tech environment. We hope the visit will stimulate the students to think about the opportunities that higher education offers. I believe it further backs up our strong commitment to science teaching at Chaucer, which has recently been boosted by the completion of a suite of new science labs funded by the LEA."

Commenting on the ongoing link with Chaucer School, Professor David Rice Chairman of the Department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology at the University, said "I am delighted to support this initiative and to use our facilities to encourage students to learn about these fascinating areas of biological research."

Mr Steve Robinson, Head teacher at Chaucer School says, "All schools in Sheffield are developing partnerships with the wider community in order to develop our curriculum, provide greater flexibility for our students and to demonstrate how what they learn at school is relevant to the wider world. We are particularly pleased that Chaucer has been able to develop this link, for the benefit of the students involved in our vocational science course."

Lord May, President of the Royal Society, congratulated the School on securing the grant. He said, "This is an exciting project that will give the pupils chance to work alongside professional scientists. I hope more this experience will inspire more schoolchildren to pursue a career in science and engineering."

The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) is part funding the project. Professor Julia Goodfellow, Chief Executive of BBSRC says, "We are pleased to support a project that is bringing the cutting edge research at the University to their local schools."

Notes for Editors: The Royal Society's Partnership Grant scheme is sponsored by Exxon Mobil and the Mercers' Company.

The Chaucer School visit is sponsored by the Royal Society in partnership with the University of Sheffield and the Government's Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC).

For further information: Please contact Jeanette Newcombe on 0114 2221032 or email mediateam@sheffield.ac.uk