Hull's scientists of the future take on heartburn challenge with RB

By Hull Daily Mail | Posted: 18 Feb 2018

Potential scientists of the future have worked with health giant RB to try to use knowledge from the classroom to find a better way of tackling heartburn.

Students at employer-led Hull school Ron Dearing University Technical College (UTC) are taking on the challenge by RB to further improve one of its major global brands, Gaviscon.

The students have been working with scientists from Hull firm to work out how best tackle heartburn - the burning feeling in the chest caused by stomach acid travelling up towards the throat (acid reflux).

The challenge is one of a series of projects that are underway or planned and have been set by the Founding Partners of the pioneering UTC, which include some of Hull’s leading employers.

The project led by RB is designed to raise awareness of the importance of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects.

It will see pupils put forward innovative ideas for RB’s Gaviscon range and will culminate with an event to enable pupils to pitch their ideas to leaders and scientists from the global consumer goods firm later this year.

The project began with students from Year 10 (age 14) watching live demonstrations of Gaviscon products in action and working with RB researchers to explore the science of acids and alkalis, and the causes and treatments for heartburn and indigestion.

Dr Bruce Charlesworth, RB Hull site lead, said: “Our strategic partnership with Ron Dearing UTC is designed to engage students by making science fun and relevant to everyday lives, as well as improving their employability. We know that some students can be put off by a misconception that STEM subjects are boring or difficult.

Annabel O’Fee, RB R&D Associate, conducts an experiment with students Katie Lister, left, and Nikola Mikute, both 14

“RB’s new £105m state-of-the-art Centre for Scientific Excellence puts Hull at the heart of our consumer health research globally. This means there’s a need more than ever before for us to help develop and attract the skills needed to create innovative health products.

“As a company with a 200-year heritage in Hull, it’s also a way in which we can give something back to the local community.”

As well as RB, Ron Dearing UTC’s Founding Partners are the University of Hull and four of the region’s other leading employers – KCOM, Siemens Gamesa, Smith & Nephew and Spencer Group. The school is also supported by a host of other business partners.

Other employer projects underway include one involving all the school’s students employing the techniques of Agile Project Management, which has been inspired by KCOM and the Centre for Digital Innovation (C4DI) tech hub, one of the UTC’s Major Partners.

Students from Year 10 at Ron Dearing UTC are working with RB researchers to explore the causes and treatments for heartburn and indigestion

Ron Dearing UTC principal Sarah Pashley said: “This is our first big curriculum project and illustrates how closely our Founding Partners work with the staff and students and the extent of their commitment to the school.

“It’s truly inspiring for our students to work with and learn from global businesses such as RB and be challenged by a project involving one of their leading health brands. It helps them to appreciate the world-class research, development and innovation RB delivers here in Hull.

“Projects such as this develop the students’ knowledge and skills as well as their awareness of the many exciting and rewarding career opportunities offered by RB and our other employer partners.”

Ron Dearing UTC opened in September and will continue to grow to a capacity of 600 students aged 14 to 19, by September 2020.

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