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Pencoed pupils conduct cutting-edge genetic science

17 March 2011

Pupils at Bridgend’s Pencoed Comprehensive School have been getting to grips with the genetics of cancer, as part of a project to build links between schools and scientific researchers.

A team from Cardiff University has been working with pupils on the hands-on project, funded by the Royal Society, the UK’s national academy of science.

The project, titled "Cells, Genes, Mutations and Cancer" gives pupils the chance to explore practical biological science for themselves. The focus is on the interaction between the environment and our genes in the development of cancer. Pupils from Years 11 to 13 have planned, conducted and analysed experiments looking at cell growth and gene mutation, using the same techniques as cutting-edge cancer researchers.

Dr Karen Reed, Research Associate at Cardiff University’s School of Biosciences, is working in partnership with Pencoed Comprehensive School on the research. Dr Reed said: "Our project will bring to life what pupils learn about in the classroom and help them to understand the impact of science and engineering upon their day-to-day activities. Making these subjects relevant is how we demonstrate how vital they are to our lives."

The project will culminate in a showcase event at the School on Saturday 2nd April (10am until 12.30pm). Pupils will explain their findings to the public, including their parents and other schools in the Bridgend area.
The Royal Society project offers young people the chance to meet and work with local scientists and to build their scientific understanding in a way that is exciting and relevant to their lives.

Professor John Pethica FRS, Vice-President of the Royal Society, said: "We’re pleased to be supporting this Cells, Genes, Mutations and Cancer project at Pencoed Comprehensive School and are looking forward to seeing this imaginative project come to life.
"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."

For further information and pictures, please contact:

Stephen Rouse,
Public Relations Office,
Cardiff University.
029 2087 5596


•The Royal Society is an independent academy promoting the natural and applied sciences. Founded in 1660, the Society has three roles, as the UK academy of science, as a learned Society, and as a funding agency.

•The Royal Society provides strategic and independent advice to the Government, its agencies and key opinion-formers, with the aim of improving science and mathematics education in schools and colleges across the UK. Our key goals are to ensure that we have a science literate public and to inspire as many young people as possible to study science and mathematics post-16.

•The Partnership Grants scheme offers up to £3000 of funding for schools who, through working in partnership with scientists or engineers, develop and deliver exciting and creative projects to engage young people with science. They allow teachers to increase their scientific knowledge and give scientists and engineers the opportunity to develop their communication skills, and engage with enquiring young minds. Most importantly, these projects give school students a taste of science and engineering today, and their relevance for society.

•Cardiff University is recognised in independent government assessments as one of Britain’s leading teaching and research universities and is a member of the Russell Group of the UK’s most research intensive universities. Among its academic staff are two Nobel Laureates, including the winner of the 2007 Nobel Prize for Medicine, University President Professor Sir Martin Evans. Founded by Royal Charter in 1883, today the University combines impressive modern facilities and a dynamic approach to teaching and research. The University’s breadth of expertise in research and research-led teaching encompasses: the humanities; the natural, physical, health, life and social sciences; engineering and technology; preparation for a wide range of professions; and a longstanding commitment to lifelong learning. Three major new Research Institutes, offering radical new approaches to neurosciences and mental health, cancer stem cells and sustainable places were announced by the University in 2010.