BUDDING boffins battled it out in a challenge that put their science skills to the test.
Remedies for common colds and headaches were put under the microscope by sixth-form students, at the event at Sunderland University.
This was the 22nd year of the chemical challenge for young scientists. It attracted a record 11 teams from schools and colleges across the region.
As well as being a fun activity, the event also offered the students a chance to experience facilities of the university’s new multimillion-pound Sciences Complex and discover what higher education is all about.
This year, the students were challenged by science experts to use their knowledge of chemistry to measure the ingredients of common over-the-counter remedies for colds and headaches, such as aspirin and paracetamol.
University chemist Roger Reeve, who organises the challenge, said: “When you go into the chemist’s and get your tablets, many people think they are getting a pure drug, but this is never the case.
“Sometimes the drug is the major portion of the tablet, but more often it is only a minor part.
“There are many other ingredients. These may include adhesives, dilutents and flavouring agents.
“We wanted the teams to measure these ingredients in common tablets and powders and see what they discovered.”
He added: “The competition is always great fun and a wonderful way to inspire young people to get involved in science.
“Hopefully our new facilities will inspire them that a university education is a great option to achieving their ambitions for a career in science.”
This year’s winning team for the third year running was from Emmanuel College in Gateshead, who will go through to the national finals, with Framwellgate School in Durham a close second.
Among the other sixth forms to take part were Durham Gilesgate Sports College and Sixth Form Centre; Park View Community School, Chester-le-Street; St Aidan’s School, Sunderland; St Bede’s School, Peterlee; St Anthony’s Girls’ School, Sunderland; St Leonard’s School, Durham; and Sunderland College.