* Bristol ChemLabS Schools' Laboratory Programme

Analytical Chemistry Workshop Day for KS4


Bristol ChemLabS is making available its recently refurbished undergraduate teaching laboratories to groups of school students to support regional Chemistry teachers. The laboratories are the best of their type in the UK and amongst the very best teaching laboratories in the world.

This means opportunities for your students to study at a world-class university with world class facilities outside of undergraduate term time as well as on Wednesdays throughout the year.

Number of Students Max 60 total from participating schools per day. School groups maybe from several schools.

Day Outline

09:30 - 09:45 Arrival at the School of Chemistry
09:45 -10:00 Welcome and Safety Briefing. Issue of lab coats and safety glasses.

10:00 -13:00 Practical Session* in Undergraduate Teaching Laboratories. There will be a break for drinks and biscuits mid morning.

13:20 –13:50 Lunch break. Students/teachers should bring their own lunch.

13.50 -14.20 A talk by one of the postgraduate chemists or academic member of staff on an appropriate topic (other than extremophiles, fragrances, chocolate, or atmospheric chemistry).

14:20 –15:30 A Lecture demonstration either on Chemical Kinetics (lots of experiments and all tied to GCSE level Triple Science Chemistry). (Tim Harrison)

15.30 –16.00 Plenary talk on Spectroscopy (including NMR) for GCSE Chemistry (Tim Harrison)

16:00  Departure.


The Laboratory Session on Spectroscopies
A 3 hour morning session will be interrupted with a break for refreshments.

The morning session will see the students undertaking two practical experiments and see talks on spectroscopies. The students will be divided into groups with each group experiencing different schedule throughout the morning.

Ultraviolet Visible Spectroscopy Experiment (1.5 hour)
[30 students]
Students will have opportunity to use uv-vis spectroscopy to determine the concentration of a coloured solution. The practical will require the skill to use burettes and volumetric flasks, to draw a calibration curve (line of best fit graph) and to interpolate.

Use of Thin Layer Chromatography (TLC) to Identify Drugs (30 mins)
[10 students]
Students will run their own TLC chromatograms of 3 drugs to identify a mixture. Uses a UV lamp (in a hood), organic solvents and aluminium oxide TLC plates.

Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometry (GCMS) Talk (30 mins)
[10 students]
Students will be shown the instrument in action and have its method of operation explained.

Infra Red Spectroscopy (30 mins)
[10 students]
The students will have a talk on infra red spectroscopy ad be able to run a sample (Those that have visited previously will have run a sample but will not necessarily remember how/why it works).


Groups of 12 to 15 students will each have a postgraduate chemist as a demonstrator. It is not often that school students will have the opportunity to work with young professional scientists at such close quarters. All postgraduates (and technicians) are CRB checked through the Science and Engineering Ambassadors (SEAs) Programme or STEM Ambassadors

Accompanying Teachers

It would be good if accompanying teachers are not all ‘mature’ chemistry specialists but who are those that may be teaching chemistry at KS4 or who are newly qualified chemists. Such teachers have been found, in previous workshops, to pick up new tricks/information/experiences that they can transfer back to their own teaching. Thus CPD by diffusion!

Health and Safety
Extremely Important! Students and accompanying staff will be expected to follow the School of Chemistry's rules for visiting school scientists on health and safety in the laboratories as well as the specific health and safety requirements of the experiments.

This information MUST be made available to all pupils and accompanying teachers.

Failure to observe these rules will result in no admittance to the laboratories for students or accompanying staff.

Click for full Bristol ChemLabS Health and Safety Rules
safety sign - no ballet shoes!
photo by riot_jane
The general rules include

  • No eating, drinking or chewing gum in the laboratory.
  • Safety glasses MUST be worn correctly at all times even if you wear glasses.
  • Laboratory coats MUST be worn done up [we will provide the laboratory coats]
  • NO open-toed shoes/sandals or flipflops or BALLET PUMPS (See picture) or any kind of shoes that expose the top of the foot. ONLY substantial enclosed shoes may be worn in the laboratories. Trainers are fine.
  • No shorts, skirts or 3/4 trousers, long trousers or jeans MUST be worn.
  • All long hair MUST be tied back, and long necklaces tucked away.
  • No mobile phones/personal stereos are to be used in the laboratory.
  • Keep your work area tidy and clean up any spills.
  • Report all accidents/injuries and dangerous incidents to a member of staff.
  • Wash your hands before and after you leave the laboratory.

Failure to observe safety rules including inappropriate clothing will result in no admission to the laboratories either for students or accompanying teachers.
Bristol ChemLabS has a more than sufficient supply of lab coats and safety glasses available for students and accompanying staff.  However, if students or staff wish to bring their own that is fine. Lab coats and safety glasses must be worn at all times in the laboratory. Failure to do so will result in no admittance to the laboratory or removal from it.

Tour of the School of Chemistry

No tours of the School of Chemistry will be scheduled during the morning due to lack of time in this current schedule-if departure or arrival were 30 mins later/earlier then this would be possible.
Students with special needs
The teacher in charge of the visit is expected to notify the School of Chemistry in sufficient time if there are students with special needs so that appropriate risk assessments can be made.


Drinks and biscuits are provided.Students must provide their own lunch (to avoid complications due to dietary requirements).
Photography of the day's activities is welcomed. Teaching staff have found that images taken in the laboratory make good copy for school websites and newsletters. Images may be taken by School of Chemistry staff for our own websites, articles and other publications. Each school is requested to complete the consent form found at: http://www.chemlabs.bris.ac.uk/Documents/PhotoConsentForm.pdf and return it to Steve Croker by post or fax.

Careers Advice

We will endeavour to make chemistry careers literature available to every student who would like some.
Please contact The School Teacher Fellow for any queries at t.g.harrison@bristol.ac.uk


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