* Bristol ChemLabS Schools' Laboratory Programme

Y9 Gifted and Talented Chemistry Day


Bristol ChemLabS is making available its newly 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.

Target Students

A maximum of 90 Year 9 Gifted and Talented students which may be made up from several schools.


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 to 20 students.

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.

Outline of Visit

The exact nature of the experiments will be determined by the number of students. If the total group size is less than 50 visit will comprise

a morning session of practical work during which a circus of experiments OR a longer extraction experiment will be carried out whichever, there will be 2 talks in the afternoon, one of which will be the lecture demonstration ‘A Pollutant’s Tale’ (or ‘A Chemical Delight’ if requested).

One group of 50 students will extract caffeine tea bags in a multistage extraction and purification preparation involving equipment and chemicals not usually found in schools.
The circus of experiments involves carrying out a circus of 3 analytical experiments:


Expected Timings


Arrival meet at porter’s lodge, School of Chemistry

10:00 - 10:15

Welcome  and Safety talk and fitting out with safety glasses and laboratory coats for those students who do not have appropriate ones of their own

10:15 -12:40

Practical Circus with a 15 min break for refreshments during this period

12:40 - 13:20

 Lunch break

13:20 - 13:50

A short talk on what it is like to be a student at Bristol

13:50 - 14:20

A short talk by a postgraduate about some aspect of relevant current research

14:20 - 15:20

Lecture demonstration ‘A Pollutant's Tale’



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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

The Experiments

These are tried and tested practicals that have been successfully run with school students on many occasions.

Groups of 10 to 12 students will each have a postgraduate chemist as a demonstrator. All postgraduates (and technicians) are CRB-checked through the Science and Engineering Ambassadors (SEAs) Programme. It is hoped that Y9 students would take this opportunity to ask PGs about being university students. It is not often that school students will have the opportunity to work with young professional scientists at such close quarters.

Accompanying teachers may well wish to undertake the experiments themselves at the same time. This may be desirable especially if the chemistry teacher has not been in a university laboratory for some time or does not have a chemistry degree.

Short Talk by Postgraduate Chemist

This talk, given by a younger chemist, will be stimulating and in a language appropriate to Y9 students. Examples include research into synthetic bone, extremophile chemistry, nanotechnology, climate change, toothpaste and perfume chemistry.

Lecture Demonstration

 Tim Harrison will perform the lecture demonstration ‘A Pollutant’s Tale’. This has been given to (and extremely well received by) over 80 school audiences during 2006/07.

This talk contains demonstrations involving liquid nitrogen, dry ice and a few explosions - all the sorts of experiments that school students should see but seldom do as they are not commonly available to schools. The lecture reinforces GCSE level chemistry in a number of areas.

Tour of the School of Chemistry

With a large number of students this will not be possible on this occasion.


Drinks and biscuits are provided for morning break.

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

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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