* Bristol ChemLabS Schools' Laboratory Programme

Nitration of Methyl Benzoate


Bristol ChemLabS makes available its refurbished undergraduate teaching laboratories to groups of school and other students to support regional Chemistry teachers. The laboratories are among the very best teaching laboratories in the world. This means opportunities for 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 ‘Nitration of Methylbenzoate’ is a workshop session involving practical work that is an examination requirement by most examination boards. The practical is designed by the Bristol ChemLabS School Teacher Fellow written in appropriate language for Post 16 students.

A full day, typically starting at 09:30 to 09:45, would include an afternoon of talks, tours and lecture demonstrations which will alter according to availability. A full day would finish around 4:00 pm. Please contact t.g.harrison@bristol.ac.uk for possibilities.


This workshop can be for up to 50 Post 16 students will be in the laboratory for this session. These students may be from several schools. Students will work in pairs in the laboratory.

Students with disabilities:

Please communicate with steve.croker@bristol.ac.uk (Senior Laboratory Manager) as soon as possible so that procedures may be planned accordingly, if possible, and additional risk assessment made and the consequences explained.


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


Arrival and welcome

09:30- 09:45

Safety Briefing. Lab coats and safety glasses are issued.

09:45- 13:00

Practical Session in the Undergraduate Teaching Laboratories. There will be a 15 min break for drinks and biscuits mid-morning.

13:00: 14;00

Lunch. Students to bring their own lunch to avoid the complications of dietary requirements.

14:00- 14:30

Lecture by a postgraduate on a topic of interest to Post 16 students.

14:30- 15:30

An entertaining lecture Demonstration given by Tim Harrison (Bristol).

15:30- 15:45


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. 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

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.
The risk statements for the chemicals to be used will be found on the scripts.

Outline of Visit

Experiment: The Nitration of Methyl Benzoate
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) have been CRB/DBS checked through the STEM Ambassador programme.

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.

The students will use: fume cupboards, hotplates, ice baths, Buchner filtration, recrystallisation, thin layer chromatography, infra-red spectroscopy and melting point apparatus.


Drinks and biscuits will be provided during the morning.
Students must provide their own lunch (to avoid complications due to dietary requirements) and may be consumed in the undergraduate area on the second floor (entrance level) if desired before departure.


There is a charge for this programme. Contact t.g.harrison@bristol.ac.uk.

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


Please contact The School Teacher Fellow for any queries at t.g.harrison@bristol.ac.uk or the Outreach Administrator on chem.-net@bristol.ac.uk.

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