Year 12 biologists were invited to visit the Thames Water microbiological laboratory in Reading, which plays the vital role of testing water from taps, pipes and reservoirs for bacteria and other microorganisms.

Supplying 2.6 billion litres of fresh water, through 32,000 pipes to 15 million customers, the analysis of coliforms using membrane filtration and mass spectrometry is vital science.

The students experienced a tour of the laboratories, were given a masterclass in microscopy and were shown a variety of methodology. The company put on a workshop for the students on aseptic techniques, an important aspect of A Level Biology and showed students later in the day how these methods are used in practice.

Students met colleagues at the company that had progressed through different routes, from apprenticeships to a variety of chemistry and biology-based undergraduates. The company are world leaders in Cryptosporidium testing and in the afternoon, students were able to have a go at identifying these microbes.