Friday, 13 March 2015

Clearing the Cobwebs...

My sincerest apologies for the lack of updates for what seems like an eternity, Some things happened that made posting impossible until fairly recently rest assured I should be able to start posting a lot more frequently (once a week is what I am aiming for!).

In terms of scientific advancements on my end, things have been interesting to say the least, bot just inside of my BTEC course but in the labs in general, here is a list of some of the most recent developments as of today:

  • Our new 3D printers arrived (and all the assembly that comes along with them!) - So after finding out just how useful the first 3D printer was we decided to get more, A lot more, George (Our highly skilled 'Lab Tech'' and all round cool guy) has been working around the clock to get them ship shape and ready to go, they could have come at a greater time because, due to a successful visit from the awesome guys from Liverpool John Moore's University we where invited to be a part of the Liverpool Makerfest taking place in... June or July (I will post the date once I've double checked when it is!), we have been given a panel which we plan on using to show off how 3D printing can benefit the Scientific workplace, I have decided to design and print a remote control stabilized with several helium balloons (imagine a blimp) with a wireless camera of some sort to video the event from the skies! here's hoping no one else attending has the same idea!
  • We have completed Unit 13 - Unit 13 was a challenging Biochemistry task focused mainly on protein, enzyme and DNA structure, and how the structure of these molecules affects their function, there was also a heavy emphasis on the properties of water as well as the conditions in which enzyme activity are effected.
There is more I would love to go into but I'm struck for time at the moment, I will post again sometime next week (I'm thinking Wednesday) with what I've missed in this post and any other updates that may come up!

Bye for now and again, terribly sorry for my absence.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Chlorine Experiment and apologies!

First of all I would like to apologise for the lack of posts recently, I ran into some Internet troubles at home and I don't have enough time to update whilst I'm in school.

Now that that's out the way I figured I could jump straight back into the swing of things and give you guys a rundown / update on my 'Chlorine replacement' experiment.

Thats a pretty nice pool
The general Idea behind the experiment is to find a suitable, cost effective alternative to using chlorine to cleanse pool water, so far I am using various fruit and veg extracts to test against my homemade chlorine solution.

I will test the effectiveness of each solution by placing small anti-bacterial disks that will have each of my prototype solutions added to them, then, over the course of a week I will measure the diameter of dead cells and record my results accordingly, simple enough, right?

This whole process has been a bit of a nightmare since the start in terms of getting hold of chlorinated water, on paper its simple, get pool water sample from local swimming baths, make up fruit and veg extracts, plate up my bacteria, add anti-microbial disks, write up, bish bash bosh, done.

However I ran into my first problem when attempting to acquire a sample of pool water, to go into a public pool and collect a sample of water wouldn't have done the experiment much good in terms of accuracy due to it being old and effectively contaminated, so next I was put into contact with a student who's next door neighbour works at a public bath house, the student very kindly offered to ask her neighbour on my behalf for a falcon tube or two filled with water, however this idea was quickly shunned as we only had the neighbours word of what the contents of each tube was, so this wasn't viable, lastly after many talks on a course of action we came to the conclusion that the best way to get some chlorinated water would be to make it ourselves, so the school very kindly ordered me some chlorine tablets off of the Internet which arrived today.

Now, with the tablets here all I had to do was make up a solution befitting a 1 litre bottle from a 20g tablet that is made to chlorinate 4500 litres of water, so, Being the maths genius that I'm not, I divided 20g by 4500 which gave me a value of 0.004g, so this was my 'endgame' value, the next part would be diluting down to the desired concentration.

I achieved this by first making up a 20g solution in 1 litre of water, then once the tablet was as dissolved as much as possible (thanks to the help of Jack Webster, a member of Greenland who kindly helped crush and mix the tablet whilst I was attending a lesson), I took a 1000 micro-litre Gilson and added 1 ml (1000 micro-litres) of this concentration into 1 litre of pure, deionised water, this effectively diluted down the chlorine content of water from 20g to 0.0200g which was a large amount to be fair, but not quite what I was after.

It was at this stage that I realised that if I were to dilute down using the same amount as previously (adding 1 ml to another 1 litre of pure water) I would have a net value of 0.00002g of chlorine in the water, far too low, to get the golden number of 0.004g I would have to divide 0.02g by 10 and double it, so this meant that i would need 200ml of my current solution in 1 litre of pure water.

Now as much as I love using the Gilson to pipette, pipetting anything 200 time is fairly tedious, therefore I decided upon the use of the trusty measuring cylinder, after completing this I had finally finished making my chlorinated water solution, a mini-celebration is probably an order now!

Next step is to get my old friend Staphylococcus Epidermis to grow better, and it's particular about the agar it likes and doesn't like, hopefully this will go as planned and I'll have some results to show for the work that's gone into this whole project.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

The 'Innovation' part of the Innovation labs

In the labs there is a staggering amount of things that can and have been bought for the sake of convenience or accuracy, test tube racks, eppendorf holders, plastic beakers, glass rods, spatulas, the list goes on.

One thing I'm starting to notice is that the 3D printer we have available to us is getting used more and more often the negate or bypass the need to by new pieces of this type of equipment, as well as improve upon or completely re-design them as well, George and the student team have already made several things on the printer that have helped greatly, things such as the new space saving and interchangeable eppendorf tube racks that allow for people to collect the amount they need as opposed to having a full rack with 2 or 3 samples on it, the chromatography column racks are also a huge help because no only do they allow us to upgrade from the crude method of suspending the columns we used prior to acquiring the newly designed rack, it also helps avoid spilling the dyes we use onto the tables as that stuff is murder to clean.

Today marked the birth of the UTC Minifuge, creates by George with some help from the students Tomaz and Jack, it is a small, portable fully working centrifuge made from things that you could by from any electrical goods shop, the whole frame that contains the inner workings of the machine was designed from the ground up on the 3D printer.

The point I'm trying to make is that in the labs there always is a work around to a problem, whether it be to try a different or new method (something I am frequently reminded of!) or to design a better tool for a job, there is usually a way.

I will add some pictures if some of the 3D printer creations at a later date, bye for now.

Monday, 7 July 2014

An Introduction to my Blog

Hello, My name is Matt.

I have created this blog for the expressed purpose of portraying the Innovation labs from the point of view of  a student, on it I will post my take on the projects we all do, show off some of the more specialised pieces of equipment with examples of uses in industry, new developments in the labs and updates on the projects I am involved in.

I hope that my posts will serve to interest anyone Reading as well as inform you of some of the opportunities available.