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Bold science-awards project works on MS cure

By Liz Nicholls

With less than three days left till the competition deadline, young scientists from Simon Langton Girls’ Grammar School have submitted an ambitious project for the Bright Spark Awards.

The MBP2 team from Simon Langton Girls Grammar have entered the Bright Spark Awards. (2512870)
The MBP2 team from Simon Langton Girls Grammar have entered the Bright Spark Awards. (2512870)

There’s still time to submit more entries, but schools must act fast if they are to do so, as the deadline is 12 noon this Friday (June 15).

Using degree-level techniques, the Simon Langton Girls MBP2 Project team are conducting research for an ongoing collaborative project exploring the causes of multiple sclerosis, with the ultimate goal of helping to discover a cure for the condition.

The bold project is exactly the sort of horizon-expanding scheme – stretching young people’s ideas about what they can do through the study of science– that the awards were set up to inspire.

The five-girl team said they were hoping to get their research published in an international science journal.

Lauryn Williams explained: “The MBP2 Project is looking at MS and the causes of it to hopefully eventually assistively find a cure. This project has been running for 10 years with the help of collaborative schools and our school as well.”

Fellow researcher Rose Edgeworth explained: “We’re using ewe cells because their biochemistry is very similar to that of humans and we’re not allowed to work with human tissue because we don’t have the licence.

“We’re looking at different mutants of the MBP2 gene and how they interact with other components of the myelin sheath such as PLP1. Hopefully, this will help us understand the progression of multiple sclerosis and possibly a cure.”

The fun and practical Bright Spark Awards have a top prize of £500 to be shared by the overall winning pupils, and provide a great opportunity to engage youngsters in science.

Shortlisted entrants will be invited to take part in a Dragon’s Den-style final event at Discovery Park in Sandwich in July.

In addition to the £500 top prize, there will be a number of experience awards for stand-out projects, and every finalist will walk away with something.

The awards aim to excite a passion for science subjects among pupils, with children encouraged to collaborate using cross-curricular skills in maths, IT, science and engineering to innovate and create.

They are accessible and easy to enter, with girls featuring prominently in stand-out projects in recent years. There are no age restrictions, so both primary and secondary schools can get involved, and no limit to the number of entries a school or even a group of students can submit.

Pupils are filmed explaining their projects, and videos of shortlisted submissions will be shown at the Discovery Park final event before the judges interview the finalists and choose the winners.

The awards’ judges are Megger, Global Associates, Pfizer, Discovery Park, Benenden Hospital Trust, BAE Systems, Astro Communications, and Golding Vision (part of Golding Homes).

To enter, or find out more about the Bright Spark Awards, click HERE or contact event organiser Maxine Tarquini at mtarquini@thekmgroup.co.uk or call 0844 264 0291.

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