CHeMneT Events - Summer 2007


28 September: Independent State Schools Partnership Event, Brunel University

Bristol ChemLabS, working closely with Lesley Mortimer of the Widening Participation Office of Brunel University, provided a full day of practical work at the west London university.

40 Y10 students, and accompanying staff, from Harefield Academy, Stockley Academy, Douay Martyrs and Merchant Taylors’ schools attended the event.

The day started with a short demonstration talk about several gases in the air before the morning practical work on polymer chemistry with experiments on rayon, nylon, polystyrene and slime amongst those on offer. After lunch the focus changed to analytical chemistry. Students were given the opportunity to use uv-visible spectrometers to determine concentration strength, to develop their practical skills with thin layer chromatography to analyse a drug mixture and to determine the concentration of sugars in common fizzy drinks.

The day finished with Postgraduate Chemist Linda Sellou giving a talk entitled ‘Toothpaste Chemistry’ - the subject of her current research. Bristol Postgraduate Chemists Marcus Medley and Katie Shaw also worked tirelessly with the west London students during the day.

Accompanying chemistry teachers also had the opportunity to try out Bristol ChemLabS' mobile infra-red spectrometer.

Funding for the event was made available from the Government’s Independent State Schools Partnership fund.

26 September: RSC Top of the Bench Competition

After a break of a year whilst the laboratories were being refurbished, the Bristol and District heats of this Royal Society of Chemistry schools competition were held during an evening session to make it possible for more schools to attend.

The following schools attended: Cheltenham College (Gloucs), Redmaids (Bristol), Hardenhuish (Wilts) Queens College Taunton, Clifton High School (Bristol),  Katherine Lady Berkeley's (Gloucs.), Dauntsey's School (Wilts),  Queen Elizabeth Hospital (Bristol) and St Mary’s School, Calne(Wilts).

The teams of four students had two separate chemistry problems to solve whilst their accompanying teachers were treated to a tour of the department and a talk by Postgraduate Chemist Zoë Roberts on her research. A multiple choice chemistry quiz completed at the same time as one of the tasks proved little trouble, with most teams getting full or near full marks!

Judges Phyllis Fiadzomor, Li Yang and Anwar Kahn helped with the smooth running of the event.

The evening also provided the entertainment of a demonstration lecture by Tim Harrison assisted by Senior Chemistry Technician Steve Croker.

Cheltenham College came runners up with Dauntsey’s School Wiltshire being the eventual winners. This team will represent the district at the national finals in London in the spring term.

26 September: Y12/13 Organic Chemistry

25 September: Thomas Hardye School, Dorset

20 Y12 students from the Dorset science college visited the School of Chemistry as part of an AimHigher sponsored event. The students developed their practical skills by extracting caffeine from tea. They also enjoyed a tour of the department and an introductory session on uv-visible spectroscopy.

21 September: 'A Pollutant’s Tale', King's College Taunton

Dudley Shallcross and Tim Harrison be presented an evening performance of the lecture demonstration 'A Pollutant’s Tale' for the college's 6th form Science Society. Around 100 students and staff attended the first of the college's Science Programs.

13, 14, 17, 18 ,19 and 24 September: Post 16 Spectroscopy Visits

Over 400 Year 13 students and their teachers visited the School of Chemistry during the 12 half-day spectroscopy tours in September. The 18 schools and colleges represented were from Cornwall, London, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Somerset, South Gloucestershire as well as within the Bristol area.

The tours comprised an introductory talk and visits to nmr, mass spectroscopy, infra-red spectroscopy and electron microscopy. Some schools were also able to use ultraviolet-visible spectrometers.
A considerable number of Postgraduate chemists (SEAs) were involved as guides or to explain the techniques.

Since 2005 over 1700 Post 16 students have taken part in spectroscopy tours at the School of Chemistry, which have been jointly sponsored by the Bristol an District Branch of the Royal Society of Chemistry and Bristol ChemLabS. Teachers wishing to bring students for future tours are reminded that information about upcoming dates will be advertised through CHeMneT.

photo of Salters Camp students

17 September: Teacher Visits to Undergraduate Teaching Laboratories

Following on from our two open evenings earlier in the year, Bristol ChemLabS provided another opportunity for teachers to visit. Colleagues had the opportunity to look around the laboratories and to hear about their use with schools.


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23–27 July ‘Into the Heart of Matter’ NAGTY Summer School

For the third year running Bristol ChemLabS has played host to 20 members of the National Academy for Gifted and Talented Youth (NAGTY).

photo of NAGTY students in lab

The week is an intensive exposure to chemistry with a mix of laboratory work, talks, lecture demonstrations, visits, competitions and presentations.

Click here for a detailed report.

16-18 and 18-20 July: Salters' Chemistry Camps - Short Summer Schools for Y10 Students

Bristol ChemLabS hosted two short residential summer schools that mainly concentrated on pharmaceutical chemistry. These camps were each for three days and two nights. A total of 100 15-year-olds attended the camps from schools around the UK. Students experienced staying in University Halls of Residence and using the new Undergraduate Teaching Laboratories in the School of Chemistry.


Click here for a more detailed report.

09-14 July: Bristol ChemLabS–Trinity College Dublin Chemistry Summer School 2007

photo of summer school students

The annual Bristol–Dublin chemistry summer school saw 28 16- and 17-year-old students from 17 schools in Ireland, South Wales and the South West of England taking part in this annual event.

The students enjoyed considerable laboratory time in both universities making a range of chemicals, analysing samples and taking part in competitions. A range of talks, lectures and social events was augmented by a visit to AstraZeneca at Avonmouth for the UK participants.

Click here for a more detailed report.

The Summer School will be repeated next year at the beginning of July 2008. For more details please contact Tim Harrison (

03 July: Chemistry Lecture Demonstration Sutton Trust Summer School

Photo of Tim Harrison and Dudley Shallcross with A Pollutant's Tale equipment

Dudley Shallcross and Tim Harrison presented the lecture demonstration ‘A Pollutant’s Tale’ to this Widening Participation Summer School for Year 12 students.

03 July: Schools Organic Practical Trial Day for Post 16 Students

A-Level Chemists from Cheltenham Ladies College were joined by Chemists from King Edward VI College, Stourbridge to spend a day working in the recently refurbished School of Chemistry undergraduate teaching laboratories. The purpose of the day was to trial several organic practicals. The practicals included the production of biodiesel from assorted vegetable oils, a vanillin extraction and concentration determination by uv-visible spectroscopy and the preparation of an anaesthetic. In all a total of 48 A-Level chemists and 5 visiting teachers enjoyed the day.

The results were that biodiesel from all three oils under test was produced in good yield and only differed in the composition of the methyl esters of hexadecanoate and octadecanoate - as determined by GCMS. It was also noted that for the samples used, the vanilla essence yielded far more vanillin that vanilla extract despite the price difference!

Chemical structure of vanillin

This visit was sponsored by the Royal Society of Chemistry's Chemistry for Our Future: Smarter Use of Laboratories project.

02 July: Medicine and Science Open Day


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28 June University Open Day

27 June: Bristol Schools Chemistry Induction Day

Bristol ChemLabS, working in collaboration with Bristol City Council's Children & Young People's Services and Redland Green School,  offered Y11 Bristol students the opportunity to take part in an A-Level Chemistry ‘taster’ day.

The 35 students spent the day working with Postgraduate Chemists and the School Teacher Fellow on experiments involving infrared spectroscopy, ultra-violet-visible spectroscopy, titrations, rates of reactions and caffeine extraction from coffee.

Lab picture

The following Bristol schools were represented: Fairfield High, Cotham, Redmaids, St Bernadettes, Henbury, St Bedes, St Ursulas, Gordano , Colstons Girls and Monks Park.

The students were assisted by SEAs Steve Hensaw, Preeti Kaur, Marcus Medley, Andy Evitt and the teaching laboratory technicians.

The course was designed to be a preparation for the practical aspects of A-Level Chemistry. It also built on and further developed students' current understanding of GCSE Chemistry.

It is envisaged that this programme will be expanded to a two-day session next year.

This course is generously being funded via Bristol ChemLabS and the Royal Society of Chemistry's Chemistry For Our Future (CFOF).

26 June: Polymer Chemistry Days for Y10 Chemistry Students

Polymer workshop picture49 students from Downend School, South Gloucestershire attended the final Polymer Chemistry Day for 2007. The morning comprised a 2.25 hour practical session and a tour of the School of Chemistry. The afternoon session was made up of three half-hour lectures.

The experiments included: making synthetic silk from cotton wool, a polymer from milk and nylon 6,6. Two other practicals allowed investigations into PVA polymer composition and the thermoplastic properties of another polymer.

After a discussion of what it is like to be a student at Bristol University from Steve Longfellow and Katherine Flannery from the Widening Participation & Undergraduate Recruitment office, first year Postgraduate Chemist and SEA Lisa Teece gave a talk: ‘Colloid Chemistry: What is It?’. The final session was a short lecture demo by Tim Harrison.

In all 428 year 10 students from 18 state and independent schools attended Polymer Chemistry workshops in the summer term.

An A-Level version of this day is being planned for 2008. CHeMneT members will be advised of contents in due course.

08 June: How Science Works - Bringing Cutting Edge Science into the Classroom: Climate Change

This Research Councils UK (RCUK)-approved full day course was run for 21 teachers at  the Yorkshire and Humberside Science Learning Centre based at Sheffield Hallam University.

The course leaders were Dudley Shallcross and Tim Harrison.

An excellent course, well worth it and I hope this will be made available to other teachers in the future. I would highly recommend this course.
A tremendous course. Much appreciated and my thanks to all concerned. I am interested in trialling any of the lesson sequences and contributing to their development.
Difficult concepts put forward in a simple manner."

Feedback received from participating teachers


Another course for this Science Learning Centre is being planned for 2008.

06 June: Cheltenham Science Festival

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21 May–25 May Polymer Chemistry Days for Y10 Chemistry Students

Polymer Chemistry Polymer Chemistry

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

More details

16 May: Structure and Bonding Half Day Workshop, St Bede's RC School

This was a full day revision session involving a morning of practical work and an afternoon of lectures as part of a Y11 revision programme for GCSE. The 60 students also had the opportunity to tour the School of Chemistry.

02 May: Using Demonstrations and Practicals to Enthuse KS3 & KS4 Chemistry Students

This popular ‘hands-on’ CPD course for new chemistry teachers and science teachers who need to teach chemistry was run once more at the School of Chemistry on behalf of the Science Learning Centre-South West. The ‘show and do’ day saw teachers from South Wales, Dorset, Somerset as well as local schools engaged  in a series of practicals led by Tim Harrison aided by Steve Croker, Hugh James and Dudley Shallcross. This course will be repeated in the new school year. CHeMneT members will of course be notified.

I wish this course had been available 4/5 years ago when I was starting out in teaching!

Quote from participant


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* CHeMneT Events Spring Term 2007 (January–April)

* CHeMneT Events Autumn Term 2006 (October–December)

* CHeMneT Events Summer Term 2006 (May–September)

* CHeMneT Events Spring Term 2006 (January–April)

* CHeMneT Events Autumn Term 2005 (October–December)

* CHeMneT Events Summer Term 2005 (April-September)

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