The Science behind CSI

Hamza, who is a pupil at King Ecgbert’s School,  recently attended the Year 12  Excellence Hub event ‘The Science behind CSI’. He has written a blog about his experience of the day.

Well what can I say…

I was greeted by PhD students at Firth Court at the University and we were given a tour around the building which was informative and interesting as the students were very passionate and knowledgable.

I was then taken to what at the time, seemed like The Lab of the future with almost 20 flat screen Samsung TVs and other complicated scientific equipment, I was in awe for a long time.

haOur first task was to practice using the micro pipettes. We had to mix agarose into water so it that it formed the weirdest form known to man (hard and soft both at the same time) and we had to place it in a bowl with an anode and cathode. Our aim was for the DNA to grow and match with the DNA from the crime scene.

Subsequently, we had to use the micro pipettes to put the 5 samples of DNA into specially made wells in the agar. We were then given lunch and had an hour to eat it and explore the campus. The one thing I did during the lunch hour was go to the Arts Tower and ride the paternoster (lift with no doors). Upon coming back there were even more student ambassadors and we were told to examine paracetamol.

We were given 2 white powder samples which we had to place in 6 moles of hydrochloric acid and had to boil it down until they both dissolved completely. We then added potassium dichromate and observed colour changes which told us which sample was paracetamol and which wasn’t. Finally, our last task was to shine light into our electrolysed agar samples. Luckily, they didn’t work so we had to travel half way around the university into one of the PhD students’ (Alex) labs to try the one there. It too didn’t work but Alex had already done the exact practical and had the image printed so we were able to see which DNA matched the one at the crime scene, giving us a sense of relief.

I took the image as a souvenir and is now on my room wall. For the last 15 minutes, we had a little plenary session with staff from the University and were given certificates and information on various science courses at the University.

On my journey home I was still in shock and felt motivated after having seen the top-notch facilities at the university and I am confident that microbiology might be the course for me. To sum the day up in as few words as possible…… overwhelmingly amazing and I was astounded by the university, its staff and students and it makes me proud to live in Sheffield and be a part of this amazing university.

Excellence Hub website

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