photo of Chemistry Experience Summer School participants in the lab06-07 July 2009: Chemistry Experience Summer School

Twenty-two Post 16 students from all over the South of England took part in this year’s course designed to give students a flavour of what it would be like to read a chemistry degree somewhere in the UK. The mix of A-Level and IB students spent two packed days in the lab, lecture theatres and halls of residence.

The laboratory work ranged from analysis by ultraviolet-visible spectroscopy through to caffeine extraction and the synthesis of benzocaine. These practicals involved the use of techniques and instrumentation not typically available at schools but essential to undergraduate practical work. These included infrared spectroscopy, Büchner filtration, rotary evaporation, solvent extraction and thin layer chromatography.

One of the sessions was spent in a series of talks on scanning electron microscopy, nuclear magnetic resonance and X-ray diffraction given alongside the instrumentation by the relevant technical or research staff. Another session was spent with those involved with admission from both Bristol and Bath Universities, who answered a wide range of questions on chemistry courses and procedures in general.

The students were introduced to the world of nanochemistry by Julian Eastoe in a break between lab sessions.

After a dinner in a Turkish restaurant the evening session saw additional lectures and demonstration lectures from younger researchers, including postgraduates on the measurement of carbon monoxide, extremophile chemistry and atmospheric chemistry given by Aoife Grant, Preeti Kaur, Marcus Medley and Steve Henshaw.

During the two days the Post 16 students were assisted in the laboratories by SEAs Beatrice Cottez, Tom Hey and Victoria Abbot.

photo of chemistry Experience Summer School participants in the lab"Fantastic two days! Great people, great experiments, just really, really great!

I very much enjoyed the two days - I got a real flavour for university life and what studying Chemistry is like. Thank you!"

(Comments from course participants)

Prof Dudley Shallcross, Bristol ChemLabS Outreach Director, commented: "We are delighted to be able to offer courses such as these for bright, enthusiastic students so that they can make an educated decision about their higher education course choice.".

The course, hosted by the School of Chemistry at the University of Bristol, is in its second year and will be repeated in July 2010. Students or teachers wishing to learn more should contact Tim Harrison on

photo of chemistry Experience Summer School participants in the lab