Pembrokeshire College A-level student Caitlin Nutting recently received a gold CREST Award at Durham University for investigating optical activity within the properties of honey.
CREST is a nationally recognised scheme for student-led project work in the STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and maths). It gives young people the chance to choose their subject and methodology when completing their own investigation. A consistent and high standard of assessment is achieved for the scheme via a network of industry experts from the STEM and education sectors.
Caitlin independently carried out two experiments investigating honey and its optical activity. She started by investigating the interaction between honey and light. Caitlin then investigated whether her samples could be separated into constituent sugars using a technique called thin layer chromatography. Caitlin developed her own mobile phase, something that had not been achieved before.
Caitlin was extremely pleased with her efforts. “Achieving the Gold CREST Award really is an honour and I am so proud of myself. I put a lot of hard work into this investigation. I hope to go on to study a masters degree in chemistry at university. This is an excellent achievement; the award is a rare commodity and it shows professors that I have completed my own research.”
Helen Coomer, Caitlin’s mentor and lecturer at the college, was extremely pleased with Caitlin’s accomplishment. “This is a fantastic achievement on Caity’s part. She displayed admirable determination, working largely independently to develop her own methods as she investigated the properties of honey. Her enthusiasm for science shone throughout the project. The skills Caity gained will stand her in excellent stead as she moves forwards to a chemistry course at university. Well done, Caity!”
This year marks the 30thanniversary of the British Science Association’s (BSA) CREST awards, given in recognition of school students’ achievements in investigative project work.