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Students debate antibiotics questions


​Heather West, 18, Emily Jones, 16, and Carrigan Ashford, 16, of St Teilo’s school, took a look at the dinosaur exhibition at the National Museum of Wales, Cardiff. 

Students got to debate issues around antibiotic development at a special event at the National Museum of Wales in Cardiff – with expert help from Cardiff Met.

Almost 80 pupils from St Illtyd’s and St Teilo’s schools in Cardiff, Heolddu Comprehensive in Caerphilly, and Ferndale Comprehensive, spent the morning discussing whether public funds should be used to develop the medicines, before taking the afternoon to undertake activities and look around the museum.

The expert speakers were Drs Rowena Jenkins and Sarah Maddocks, both microbiology lectures from Cardiff School of Health Sciences and the debate was chaired by Becca Smithers of Science Made Simple.

The event was organised by the National Museum and First Campus -  a partnership of the universities in South East Wales, which aims to raise the aspirations of young people and encourage them to go on to study at college and university.

Speaking about the event, Dr Sarah Maddocks said: “I was delighted to have this opportunity to help students be more aware of the sometimes contentious issues surrounding the development of new antibiotics. By the end of the debate the students understood the bigger picture with regards to antibiotic development, and used this knowledge to form new opinions.”

Dr Rowena Jenkins added: “It was a privilege to be able raise awareness about the issues with antimicrobial resistance at this prestigious event. The students quickly demonstrated an understanding of the complexities of developing new antibiotics and the issues around funding the work – I was very impressed with their aptitude and skills.”

Helen Obee Reardon, who is Partnership STEM Co-ordinator for First Campus, said: “It was good to see the students take a detailed look at all the issues and consider all the options.

“At first many seemed to agree that the public should pay for antibiotic development, but then the opinions changed and subjects such as return in investment, the use of private finance, the influence of antibiotics being used on animals, and charity involvement, showed that there was another side to the debate."