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PUPILS TAKE PART IN A STEM CHALLENGE

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Highgate has academic partnerships with 34 secondary and 13 primary schools in our neighbouring boroughs, and events which aim to promote collaborative thinking between pupils tackling challenges in STEM (Science Technology Engineering Maths) subjects are frequently hosted at Highgate.

On Saturday 24 January, 25 pupils and 5 teachers from five of our partnership schools came together with two Highgate Year 12s to launch this year’s Compton Project: a collaborative research initiative with Highgate, acting as a hub, and the Oxford University chemistry research group, The Compton Group. This project offers participants the opportunity to work with the lauded research group in conducting investigations into the spiciness of the fruit of the Capiscum plant, chilli peppers, which is derived from the irritant chemical, capsaicin. Our young scientists were introduced to the fundamental principles behind electrochemistry and the significance of the piquant research by members of the diverse Compton Group: Israel, Germany and Australia were but a few of the home countries of the brilliant scientific minds.

After a brief interlude, experiments were underway. Students carefully prepared concoctions of acid with chilli peppers or commercial chilli sauces. Impressive digital analysers spat out an array of plots and curves that the students intelligently interpreted. Impressive and professional presentations of the results were given by the students. A stark conclusion was that the membrane between the skin and the seed is in fact the hottest part of the chilli!

This project will continue into the summer term, allowing students the opportunity to be creative with their future chilli based investigations. The participants will be in close contact with their Compton Group supervisors as they contribute to the development of academic research.

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