SciFair 2023: Can you trust the ‘five-second rule’?

Tuesday 13 June 2023

British Science Week went off with a bang, as seven of our Year 8 and 9 students were invited to Newcastle Civic Centre to present their chosen research projects to a panel of experts as part of SciFair 2023, the first university-run city-wide secondary school science fair.

From eye conditions to the relaxing effects of chocolate to the SpaceX starship, there was a great range of exciting presentations, followed by a very competitive science quiz and an awards ceremony. Congratulations to Aidan Bennett and Jack Dixon on winning the Year 8 prize for their excellent work entitled ‘Fact or Fiction: The Five Second Rule’.

“We decided to test the ‘five-second rule’ to see if it’s true,” said Aidan, whose favourite subjects are Science and Technology. “So, we got cotton swabs and rubbed them in various places around the Loaves and Fishes restaurant – including the floor.” Aidan and Jack then allowed the bacteria to grow in petri dishes in an incubator over several days.

We know that the standards of hygiene and cleanliness in College is top-notch thanks to our fabulous Catering Team and Facilities Team, yet it’s incredible how bacteria can be found almost anywhere. Unsurprisingly, the dirtiest surface was the floor. “We wouldn’t recommend eating anything you’ve dropped on the carpet!” advised Aidan. “We found it surprising that there was a lot more in some places and a lot less in others.”

Aidan and Jack returned to College with a trophy and a certificate and plenty of new knowledge. “It was a really fun, worthwhile experience,” said Aidan. “We learned a lot about different aspects of science.”