* Bristol ChemLabS Schools' Laboratory Programme

Y9 Chemistry Day


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 Y9 Chemistry Day 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 80 able Y9 students. 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 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 visit will comprise

The circus of 4 experiments will include the dying of cloth from naturally occurring dyes, the determination of the sugar content of fizzy drinks, the determination of the acid concentration of white wine and work on ‘smart materials’. There is no requirement for the students to know about moles calculations, just an appreciation of safety rules for working in laboratories.

full details

Expected Timings

9:30 - 9:45 Arrival and welcome
9:45 - 10:00 Safety talk and fitting out with safety glasses and laboratory coats for those students who do not have appropriate ones of their own
10:00 -13:00 Practical Circus with a 15 min break for refreshments during this period
13:00 - 13:45 Lunch break, with an optional short tour of the School of Chemistry (including research labs) in small groups
13:45–14:15 A short talk by a postgraduate about some aspect of relevant current research
14:15- 15:15 Lecture demonstration ‘A Pollutant's Tale’
15:15 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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Details 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 experiment 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, nanotechnology, climate change 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

If the number of students present is below the maximum then a short tour of the School of Chemistry may be possible. This would allow students to appreciate that a university chemistry department is very different from a school one. The tour should add some extra ‘awe and wonder’ to the day as the research labs in the Synthetic Chemistry Building will be included.


Drinks and biscuits are provided.
Students must provide their own lunch (to avoid complications due to dietary requirements).


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Please contact Sue Williams for details.

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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