* Bristol ChemLabS Schools' Laboratory Programme

Transition Metal Complexes Lab Experience- Senior Students


Bristol ChemLabS is making available its refurbished undergraduate teaching laboratories to groups of school students to support regional Chemistry teachers. The laboratories are among 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 50 total from participating schools per day. School groups maybe from several schools.

Day Outline

NOTES ON THE PRACTICAL: Transition Metal Complexes of Cobalt (II) Ions

One of the features that make coordination compounds of, in particular, the d-block metals so important is their so-called ‘complex’ behaviour, something first rationalised by Werner. In this experiment, linkage isomers will be prepared. Linkage isomerism is the type of structural (constitutional) isomerism which can occur when ambidentate ligands form complexes. Ambidentate ligands have two or more different sites that can be used for attachment to a metal ion, but usually only one is used at any given time. This experiment is concerned with the NO2– group, which bonds either through oxygen or nitrogen when it occupies one coordination position at a transition metal centre.

Part 1: Preparation of [Co(NH3)5Cl]Cl2
Part 2: Preparation of [Co(NH3)5NO2]Cl2, the nitro-isomer
Part 3: Preparation of [Co(NH3)5ONO]Cl2, the nitrito-isomer
The product from Part 1 will be used to prepare the nitro and nitrito complexes in Parts 2 & 3 of the practical in a practical session that uses: 30% hydrogen peroxide, 0.880 ammonia, conc. hydrochloric acid, sodium nitrite, ice baths and Buchner filtration whilst working in a fume cupboard.

This experiment is taken from a resource entitled Learn Chemistry, w.rsc.org/learn-chemistry, First Year Undergraduate Chemistry Laboratory Course Manual 2011-2012, Core Chemistry 1A and 1B: Discovery Block 4 and was developed by Dr Jacquie Robson, RSC School Teacher Fellow 2010-2011 at Durham University.  Jacquie is a regular visitor to Bristol ChemLabS. This resource is available in full here.and was produced as part of the National HE STEM Programme


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 STEM Ambassadors programme.

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 higher 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. There is no charge for this.

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

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.

Tour of the School of Chemistry

Tours of the School of Chemistry can be scheduled (30 minute duration) can be scheduled for groups smaller than 25 students. Please ask at the time of booking. Usually this would follow the last scheduled activity.

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.

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


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