* Bristol ChemLabS Schools' Laboratory Programme

Aspirational Visit for KS4 Students


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.

The ‘Aspirational Visit’ is one of several workshop days involving practical work designed by the Bristol ChemLabS School Teacher Fellow to meet current GCSE level specifications and with practical scripts written in appropriate language.

Target Students

A maximum of 70 KS4 students who are typically capable of going on to study A-level chemistry. The group may be made up of more than one school.


The number of teaching staff accompanying the student groups from each school should be what is considered appropriate by the local school rules, but there should be at least one teacher per group of up to 15 students.

Expected Timings

09:45 -10:00 Arrival and welcome
10:00 -10:10 Welcome and safety briefing. Lab coats and safety glasses issued.
10:10 - 12:40

Practical Session in Undergraduate Teaching Laboratories. There will be a break for drinks and biscuits mid morning.

12:40 - 13:15 Lunch
13:15 - 14:15 Talk on what it is like to be a ‘generic’ university student at Bristol given by the Widening Participation Office
14:15 -14:45 Talk by one of the Postgraduate Chemists on a GCSE appropriate topic (TBA)
14:45 - 15:00 Break for refreshments
15:00 - 16:00 A Lecture demonstration on Atmospheric Chemistry (lots of experiments including minor explosions, liquid nitrogen and dry ice) and all tied to GCSE level Chemistry
16:00 -16:15

Plenary and Evaluation

16:15 Departure

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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 adults.

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

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.

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Outline of Visit


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

The students will work in pairs and will work on several experiments, some involving polymer chemistry, some involving analytical techniques such as thin layer chromatography and another experiment looking at rates of reaction.

Experiments will include the production of benzoic acid from sodium benzoate (Buchner filtration and ice baths), the iodine clock reaction investigation and uv-visible spectroscopic analysis.

We suggest that you bring a few digital cameras/digi-cams to record the experiments for follow up back at school.

Teachers may also carry out the experiment if they so wish. This may be of most interest to newly qualified teachers or teachers of chemistry who are not graduate chemists. Please notify us well in advance if this offer is to be taken up.

Tour of the School of Chemistry

This is not available on this occasion but the students will see the laboratory and a lecture theatre during the visit.


Drinks and biscuits will be provided.

Students must provide their own lunch (to avoid complications due to dietary requirements).


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There is a charge for this programme.

Careers Advice

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 carried out.


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.

Arriving by Coach or Minibus.

There is no coach parking and very limited minibus parking (by prior booking chem_net@bristol.ac.uk). Coaches can drop off and collect students at a safe point opposite the entrance to Cantock's Close on Woodland Road.

A Map for the School of Chemistry, BS81TS. can be found by clicking here


Please contact The School Teacher Fellow for any queries at t.g.harrison@bristol.ac.uk


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