Langton School of STEM Research

Welcome to the webpage for the Langton School of STEM Research, the home of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) based research projects at the Langton.  In this section you will be able to find out background information about the student led research projects we currently have running at the school.  If you are interested in our research, look out for our annual symposium held in late June every year, where our students present their research as talks and posters.

Astronomy

We have a large astronomy group here at The Langton who are based at The Langton Observatory.  We have a variety of optical telescopes and a radio telescope that the group use.  The astronomy group are able to access the observatory during the evening at weekends and also organise and run our Stargazing Live events, where the public can visit the observatory on the first Friday of every month from October to March.  Recently the astronomy group have used our radio telescope to hunt for radio waves from Jupiter and this year they have started to hunt for Muons, particles from cosmic rays, to see if their number are affected by solar activity.

Mars Rover Project

On this project the students are working to design a rover that would be capable of delivering an instrument package to Mars.  During this project, our students will follow the processes used by a large commercial organisation to manage and deliver a project, an experience that will prove highly valuable to any student wishing to follow an engineering path.  Over the last year the students have worked on a plan for the rover and we have now ordered some of the electronics.  The next phase of the project will be to see if we can make the electronics communicate, so the rover can be controlled remotely.

Beetles

This project studies the iridescence of beetle wing casings.  The group have used a spectrophotometer to analyse the wavelengths of light reflected off the beetle wing casings.  Recently the wing casings have been heated to different temperatures and the effect this has had on the iridescence has been studied.  In order to try to explain the results of the experiment the group also used a scanning electron microscope to study the structure of the wing casings.  This project received recognition at the KM Bright Spark Awards 2017, more details of the project can be found HERE.

 

Ionic Liquids

This project is run in conjunction with the Institute of Research in Schools (IRIS).  This is a very hands-on and practical project where the group will initially be learning the techniques required to produce liquid salts.  The group will then test some of the unique properties of these liquids, such as their ability to clean the tarnish on electrical circuit boards.

Muons

The Muons project initially started out as a project fun by the astronomy group, but has now become sufficiently well established to warrant its own section on our web page!  The students working on this project are using a TimePix radiation detector chip to measure tiny particles called Muons; these particles occur as a result of Cosmic Rays.  The group are trying to see if there is any relationship between the number of Muons they find and solar activity.

Earthquake Detection

There is evidence that prior to an earthquake an electric charge can build up in certain types of rock, this causes an electric field.  The two students working on this project are trying to find out if this could affect the paths of charged beta particles in the atmosphere, with a view to making an inexpensive early warning device for earthquakes.  This project won the 2018 KM Bright Spark awards.

 

LUCID

The Langton Ultimate Cosmic Ray Intensity Detector (LUCID) is an instrument package on Surrey Satellite Technology’s TechDemoSat-1.  The package detects cosmic rays above the Earth’s atmosphere and send the data down to us.  Over the past year, students working on this project have used the data to see if the rays come mainly from the sun or from deep space, they have also used the data to assess the impact of cosmic rays on space travellers travelling to Mars.  The data is still running this year and the students will be using this data to investigate a region of high intensity cosmic rays called the South Atlantic Anomaly.  Preliminary analysis suggests it has got larger over the last few years, but has it, and if so why?

Vaping

This project started when we teamed up with the University of Kent to analyse the content of E-cigarette solutions using an advanced technique called Gas Chromatography Mass Spectometry (GC-MS).  As part of this project students learnt the techniques used by analytical chemists in a real research environment, by making a set of standards that allowed them to work out the concentration of various chemicals in the E-cigarette solutions.  Now this has been done, the project has taken on a new direction; can we develop a method that will allow us to carry out a similar analysis using the equipment we have in school?

Genome Decoders

This project is run as part of the Institute for Research in Schools’ Genomics project.  The aims of this project is to decode the DNA of the human whipworm in order to find vulnerabilities.  Why do this?  The human whipworm is a parasite that carries a Neglected Tropical Disease (NTD) called Trichurisasis, which can cause abdominal pain, diarrhoea and development problems in children.  Finding where the host is vulnerable is the first step in halting this awful disease.

MBP2

This is a long standing project that is now located at Simon Langton Girls’ Grammar School and investigates the causes of Multiple Sclerosis.  Multiple Sclerosis is caused by the breakdown of the Myelin Sheath, a protective layer around nerves.  Students engaged on this project are investigating the role of the Myelin Basic Protein (MBP) in the Myelin sheath.  To go to the main MBP2 page, click HERE.