Real Voices interview: Charlotte

Meet Charlotte, who is now studying Pharmacy at university

Illustration of Charlotte

Illustration © Lyndon Hayes

What subjects did you study at post-16?

Biology, Chemistry, Psychology, General Studies, AS English Literature.

What was your extended project?

Caffeine – friend or foe: what are the main physiological effects of caffeine on the human body and can C. elegans be used as a model for these effects?

How did you choose your topic?

I knew I wanted to test a substance used in everyday life. The obvious choice was caffeine.

How did you design your experiment?

An important aspect of my experiment was ensuring that results were not biased by my previous knowledge of the effects of caffeine. I designed blind worm races, where I did not know which agar plate had which concentration of caffeine on it, so I couldn’t exert ‘experimenter bias’.

How did you handle your data?

After each experiment, I recorded my data from my lab book into an Excel spreadsheet. I was accumulating a lot of data and it was vital to ensure that no data was lost or misinterpreted. I also analysed my data after each experiment, trying to ensure that I did not ignore any important results.

Tell us about your process of writing up.

I wrote my project in this order – literature review, discussion, conclusion, introduction, and abstract – because this order made the most sense to me. It is important to do the bibliography from start to finish to ensure everything is referenced accurately.

Who helped you?

I developed my project with my supervisor Dr Julian Foster and scientists at Southampton University, and my parents helped me too.

Where are you now?

I am studying Pharmacy at the University of Cardiff.

How has doing an extended project helped you?

Doing this project made me feel more determined to pursue a science-based degree. I loved doing laboratory practicals for my project and I love lab practicals now at university. The lecturers are not there to hold your hand, so it is really important to know how to organise yourself and your time.

About this resource

This resource was first published in ‘Go Further: A practical guide to extended science projects’ in June 2015.

Physiology, Careers
Go Further: A practical guide to extended science projects
Education levels:
16–19, Independent research projects