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Cough Syrup

  • Age range: 9-11 years
  • Science topic: Materials
  • Type of enquiry: Comparative/fair tests

Following a request for help from a pharmaceutical company, children learn how scientists develop medicines. First, they explore the best conditions for growing the micro-organisms which are needed to produce the active ingredient in antibiotics. They then investigate the most effective and efficient way to collect the active ingredient that it is grown in before thinking about the ideal consistency for the syrup to be administered.

These activities embed learning objectives from the upper KS2 science curriculum in a real life context which will support the development of children’s science capital and help to raise their aspirations.

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Cough Syrup (PDF , 6,527kb)


Investigating food sources for microbes

Science topic: Materials
Type of enquiry: Comparative/fair tests
Keywords: KS2, working scientifically, science capital, micro-organisms

Children learn that some medicines, such as antibiotics, are made from micro-organisms. This is because some micro-organisms naturally make substances which prevent some harmful bacteria from growing. These microbes need to be grown in large enough quantities so that enough of this ‘active ingredient’ can be collected.

In this activity children adopt the role of scientists working on behalf of a pharmaceutical company. They investigate a range of food sources for cultivating yeast.


Investigating the effect of temperature on microbial growth

Science topic: Materials
Type of enquiry: Comparative/fair tests
Keywords: KS2, working scientifically, science capital, micro-organisms

Having learned why pharmaceutical companies need to grow microbes, children plan their own investigations to find out what is the optimal temperature for growing microbes.


Filtration

Science topic: Materials
Type of enquiry: Comparative/fair tests
Keywords: KS2, working scientifically, science capital, filtration

In the next stage of medicine development children are asked by a pharmaceutical company to test several materials to determine which is the most effective filter. They are encouraged to plan and carry out a fair test to determine how effective the different materials are at removing flour from a mixture of flour and water considering both the time taken to filter the liquid, and also how much of the flour was removed from the sample.


Viscosity testing

Science topic: Materials
Type of enquiry: Comparative/fair tests
Keywords: KS2, working scientifically, science capital, viscosity

Children learn that an important aspect of creating some medicines is the viscosity; scientists have to make sure that it is neither too thick or too thin. They then investigate the effect of altering the ratios of specific ingredients on the viscosity of the resulting syrups. The aim is to find the best consistency for a cough medicine.


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