Skip to content ↓

    Project M Press Release – 25 April

    Camden School for Girls has experiment performed at leading UK science facility.



    At 11am on the 26th April, scientists Dr Claire Murray and Dr Julia Parker will begin the mammoth task of running an experiment on 1,000 samples prepared by students from schools across the UK – including those from year 11 and year 12 at Camden School for Girls.


    The students have prepared ten samples of calcium carbonate using specially selected additives, which will be analysed at Diamond Light Source – the UK’s synchrotron science facility – a giant X-ray microscope the size of Wembley Stadium.

    Simon Flynn, a science teacher at Camden School for Girls, says ‘it has been fantastic for students to see that even something as ubiquitous as calcium carbonate, a compound that is the main component of limestone, marble and chalk, still has secrets to reveal. The fact that our students are playing a key role in uncovering new and fascinating insights into this everyday material makes the project all the more exciting and inspirational – we’re so grateful to Claire and Julia at Diamond Light Source for giving us this opportunity’.


    The massive set of results will (hopefully) be used to write a scientific publication, as this research has never been done before.

    “Calcium carbonate is hugely interesting – it’s the 4th most abundant mineral on the planet – found in nature in shells and chalk, and also a integral part of industries such as paper manufacturing,” says Dr Claire Murray, a researcher at Diamond who is co-project manager for Project M. “It can exist in different forms, and if we can understand how, and where, each form is made, we may be able to learn from nature to create futuristic ‘biomimetic’ materials.”


    Project M is Diamond’s largest public engagement project to date, and Drs Murray and Parker are aiming to have all the data collected in 24 hours.

    “We’re really excited to offer schools this opportunity to work with a national science facility,” says Dr Murray. “Doing the science in person would be really difficult, and this has been a fantastic way to engage with students. I really hope we can inspire them to continue their interest in science.”

    Once the data has been collected, it will be sent back to the schools participating for the students to analyse. Once this analysis is complete, the researchers hope to use the data to produce a scientific paper, as this research has never been done before.

    You can watch a live feed of the experiment from 11am on the 26th April at  or follow Project M on Twitter @DLSProjectM.



    About Camden School for Girls

    Camden School for Girls is a very successful comprehensive school serving a culturally and linguistically diverse area of central London.

    Project M - 1000 samples, 100 schools, one great big experiment

    100 schools are taking part in Project M - a novel and exciting research project. In order to help us understand calcium carbonate, each school is making 10 samples, using specially selected additives. Once complete, the samples will be sent back to us to analyse using our laboratory called beamline I11 at Diamond.

    We are aiming to analyse all 1000 samples in a 24 hour period. This will be used to produce a giant set of results which we hope (fingers crossed) will produce a scientific publication – this research has never been done before.


    About Diamond Light Source

    Diamond Light Source is the UK’s synchrotron science facility, and is approximately the size of Wembley Stadium.

    It works like a giant microscope, harnessing the power of electrons to produce bright light that scientists can use to study anything from fossils to jet engines to viruses and vaccines.

    Diamond is one of the most advanced scientific facilities in the world, and its pioneering capabilities are helping to keep the UK at the forefront of scientific research.

    2017 marks a double celebration for Diamond – 15 years since the company was formed, and 10 years of research and innovation. In this time, researchers who have obtained their data at Diamond have authored over 5,000 papers.      


    Simon Flynn
    Science Teacher