Sunderland pupils solve sports doping ‘scandal’ in university challenge

Pupils from across the country take part in the finals of the Royal Society of Chemistry's Schools' Analyst Competition which this year is hosted by Sunderland University. Morc Coulson Senior Lecturer in Sport Science (blue top) and Lee Williams Senior Lecturer in Analytical Chemistry with local Finalists from Lord Lawson School in Beamish.

Pupils from across the country take part in the finals of the Royal Society of Chemistry's Schools' Analyst Competition which this year is hosted by Sunderland University. Morc Coulson Senior Lecturer in Sport Science (blue top) and Lee Williams Senior Lecturer in Analytical Chemistry with local Finalists from Lord Lawson School in Beamish.

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THE next generation of scientists got to use top-of-the range kit as they went head to head in a university challenge.

A-level and AS-level students were challenged to solve a sports-related doping “scandal” as part of national competition, with 20 schools heading to the University of Sunderland to put their skills to the test.

The Schools Analyst Competition, organised by the Royal Society of Chemistry, gave pupils the opportunity to experience its £8.5million science complex and stay in its student accommodation.

The final was developed by Dr Lee Williams, senior lecturer in analytical chemistry at the university, who said: “The reason we were chosen is that the University of Sunderland has some of the best labs in the UK, particularly for undergraduate teaching, and we have lots of strong links with industry.

“Because of our expertise, the final has been, as it should be, relatively difficult.

“Students have been using the best instruments you could possibly buy, which you won’t find in any great number even in industry, but we have them in our labs to ensure that our students are the best skilled and have the best theoretical knowledge of any analytical chemist.

“Most of these instruments cost hundreds of thousands of pounds, and these 16 and 17-year-old chemists are using them because it’s important that they get experience in real-world situations.

“The instruments they use at Sunderland are the same as are used at the Olympic Games. We are taking high technology, the latest analytical equipment, and relating it to something which the students understand is very important.”

The winner of the task was Sevenoaks School from Kent.