* 21-25 May: Polymer Chemistry Days

Polymer Chemistry Polymer Chemistry

379 students and more than 24 teachers and technicians from 17 schools attended the second annual Bristol ChemLabS programme of Polymer Chemistry days for Y10 students this week. Students came from schools in Dorset, Wiltshire, Gloucestershire and North Somerset as well as from schools located closer to Bristol.

Each day started in the recently refurbished School of Chemistry Undergraduate Teaching Laboratories with a safety briefing and kitting out in lab coats, safety specs and gloves. The fifteen-year-olds then spent around 2.5 hours in the laboratories working with a team of 8 postgraduates chemists.

The practical exercises were made up of 5 experiments arranged in a circus of 3 workstations, and each with a Postgraduate Chemist demonstrator. The experiments used on this occasion were:

Following the practical session, the students were taken on a tour of the School of Chemistry.

After a short lunch break, the school students were treated to 3 lectures. The first of these was a general talk entitled ‘What is it like to be an undergraduate student at Bristol?’ given by the University of Bristol Widening Participation Unit. A second lecture was presented by one of the Postgraduate Chemists on topics ranging from climate change and energy to extremophiles and ‘The Chemistry of the Colour Red’!

The last session was a lecture demonstration on the chemistry of the atmosphere given by School Teacher Fellow Tim Harrison. This final lecture involved the usual experiments including liquid nitrogen, dry ice and explosions that have stimulated students for decades.  

Chemistry of the Atmosphere props 

The pupils gained so much from seeing the fantastic facilities of the
Chemistry Department at Bristol University and trying the experiments, all
of the undergraduates were really helpful, encouraging and patient. [...]
Many pupils have opted to study single sciences after this trip and a few
have said they are really interested in studying chemistry at University
after speaking to the students
Hazel Frost, Head of Chemistry

Many of the places available were made possible by a grant from AimHigher. All Polymer Day places were subsidised by Bristol ChemLabS through our Outreach programme.

This series of Outreach days had the aim of supporting both teachers and students with their GCSE subject matter and also gave the students an idea of what it is like to be a Chemistry undergraduate for the day. A further Polymer Chemistry Day for a maximum of 100 students will be held on 26 June 2007 (there are still 30 places available), with another in the autumn term (see our Bristol ChemLabS Schools' Laboratory Programme page for detail).

Notification of future Polymer Chemistry Days will be sent out to all CHeMneT members in due course. CHeMneT membership is free–simply email chem-net@bristol.ac.uk to join.


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