Teachers Parents Students

Success Story: Zapping Zits in the Name of Science

A Science Buddies Ask an Expert advisor guides a budding microbiologist through a project on the scourge of the teenage years: acne!


2012-MATTHEWBREWER_200px.png

In his senior-year science project, Matthew Brewer (pictured above) tackled a problem familiar to many teenagers—acne. Project Ideas in Medical Biotechnology enable students to investigate questions related to connections between medicine, genomics, diseases, prescription drugs, and more.

Read about other student science successes in the Science Buddies in Action area.

Acne is an unhappy rite of passage for most adolescents, and as a twelfth grade student, Matthew Brewer of Lafayette, CA, was no exception to the rule. When the Science Buddies Topic Selection Wizard suggested the "Which Acne Medication Can Really Zap That Zit?" project from Science Buddies' Medical Biotechnology section, Matthew felt like it was a natural fit for him. "I am interested in microbiology, and I want to help acne sufferers of all ages because I know what a negative effect it can have on self-esteem."

The resources in Science Buddies' Medical Biotechnology section are designed to help students investigate the ways in which drugs and medications work in the body—and the impact of individual biological and genetic differences. Matthew's project, which involved testing the antibacterial properties of a variety of acne medications, proved to be both interesting and challenging for him and his project partner. When Matthew needed help pinpointing the similarities between E. coli bacteria and P. acnes, the bacteria commonly found in acne, he visited the Science Buddies Ask an Expert forums. It was Donna Hardy, a longtime Ask an Expert advisor from Bio-Rad Laboratories, who guided him to resources that could answer his questions.

As the project progressed, Matthew confronted several hurdles: finding the right antibacterial agents to test, nutrient agar plates that didn't grow bacteria as expected, and water pooling on plates in the incubator. As he and his teammate faced each new challenge, Matthew continued to correspond with Donna via the forums. "We could not have completed the project if it weren't for all the support I received from Ask an Expert and Donna," says Matthew, "and the project would not have received the awards that it did."

The project required a lot of hard work and long hours, but Matthew says he is glad that he did it. "The experience I gained from this will last a lifetime. This project taught me to be patient, to deal with the obstacles that life throws you, and to never give up." In addition to the personal lessons learned from his senior science project experience, Matthew's project won third place in the Contra Costa Science and Engineering Fair (CCCSEF) and two other special awards: a Chevron Innovation Award and a John Muir award for the Advancement of the Future of Health Care.




Science Buddies Project Ideas in Medical Biotechnology are sponsored by the Amgen Foundation.
Science Buddies Project Ideas in Biotechnology Techniques are sponsored by Bio-Rad Laboratories and its Biotechnology Explorer program.

Science Buddies Science Activities

Science Buddies Summer Science Roundup


thumbnail
City parklets provide interesting challenges for engineers, designers, and planners. With software from Autodesk and a fun Digital STEAM Workshop challenge, students can design their own parklets and see what is involved in reimagining a few parking spots as a social space.

thumbnail
As the number of medications continues to rise, pharmacists play an increasingly powerful role in helping ensure patient wellbeing, safety, and quality of life. Beyond an apple a day, feeling better may require advice from a pharmacist!

thumbnail
Visual illusions and other optical puzzles are fun for families to share and explore. With hands-on science projects and activities, students can create and test their own visual illusions--including a cool infinity mirror!

thumbnail
School and family science weekly spotlight: the science of marinades

thumbnail
A fun SimCity science project from Science Buddies helps turn in-game city planning into a science experiment, one students can also use to enter the annual Future City competition.

thumbnail
What do gears and tires have to do with who wins a race—or how long it takes to ride to the corner store? Find out with hands-on sports science projects that help tie science to the sports kids love to do and watch.



Your Science!
What will you explore for your science project this year? What is your favorite classroom science activity? Email us a short (one to three sentences) summary of your science project or teaching tip. You might end up featured in an upcoming Science Buddies newsletter!



You may print and distribute up to 200 copies of this document annually, at no charge, for personal and classroom educational use. When printing this document, you may NOT modify it in any way. For any other use, please contact Science Buddies.