TWO Didcot students will be unearthing new antibiotics from soil bacteria after they were selected to take part in a global science project.

Rebekah Vaughan and Rui Manaia are in Year 12 at UTC Oxfordshire in the town and have been chosen from just six UK schools to be in the Oxford Brookes University-backed project.

But before they secured their place, the pair had to win over judges with their own soil sample investigations from their gardens.

Rebekah said: "The antibiotics unearthed project was an amazing opportunity to learn new techniques in microbiology with the support of academic experts.

"The project has reinforced my decision to study microbiology at university."

All the project entries will be displayed on a specially commissioned board in the microbiology department at Brookes.

Medical microbiology senior lecturer at Brookes Dr Hee-Jeon-Hong was one of the judges and said she was impressed by their advanced techniques.

She said: "The students had a good level of knowledge, were keen to be involved and clearly benefitted from the specialist science facilities at UTC Oxfordshire."

Both Rebekah and Rui will travel to the Microbiological Society's annual conference in Edinburgh this month to present their findings.

But they are not the only students embarking on discoveries that are out of this world.

Students across the school are also working on a project to send a tiny computer 30,000 metres into the sky.

The project is called Pi in the Sky and is the brain child of Eben Upton, co-founder of the Raspberry Pi Foundation.

It will involve attaching a Raspberry Pi computer to a helium balloon and tracking the distance it travels through video and data captured.

UTC Oxfordshire headteacher Owain Jones said: "One of the unique aspects of our curriculum is the employer-led projects, which are designed to develop students' technical and employment skills.

"This will test them in planning and teamwork as much as in computer science."

The flight will take place within the next two weeks but will be dependent on weather conditions.

Year 12 student David Tillin said being involved in the project will help him extend his knowledge in a field outside the classroom.

He added: "It is a skill that will benefit me in the future when I leave school."

The team of 14 have divided themselves into three sub-teams with one group working on experiments to measure temperature and pressure changes, one group is creating and testing a radio and the third will be leading communications.

But before they let their experiment fly, the UTC team will have to get permission from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

UTCs – university technical colleges – are schools for 14 to 19-year-olds that offer technical, practical and academic learning that focuses on science, technology, engineering and maths.