Mini Chemistry Summer Camp for Y11/Y12 Students from Specific Schools – Exemplar


Bristol ChemLabS Outreach is a multi-award winning project that is part of Bristol ChemLabS, the UK’s Centre for Excellence in the Teaching and Learning (CETL) in Chemistry. Bristol ChemLabS regularly makes available its refurbished undergraduate teaching laboratories to groups of school students to support regional Chemistry teachers. The laboratories are amongst the best of their type anywhere in the world.

This is one of several summer schools involving practical work designed by the Bristol ChemLabS School Teacher Fellow  with practical scripts written in appropriate language. All postgraduates (and technicians) are CRB checked through the Science and Engineering Ambassadors (SEAs) Programme or STEM Ambassadors programme.

Target Students

A maximum of 50 school students who are either studying Post 16 chemistry or are capable of doing so. The group may be made up from one, two or three schools.


By negotiation during the period from the end of June to the end of July 2011.


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.

Teachers may also carry out the experiments if they so wish. This may be of most interest to newly qualified teachers or teachers of chemistry who are not graduate chemists.

Possible Schedule for a 2 Day Visit

Assumption: the party would be arriving by coach which would stay to take the party home the following day. The evening would be spent in a university hall of residence.

Day 1 


10:15 -10:30



Welcome and Safety Talk and fitting out with safety glasses and lab coats.

10:45 -12:30

Practical Session 1. Some lab warm –up practical exercises so that students get used to being in the teaching laboratory. These would include the development of some skills used in later practical sessions.


Lunch Break: Students to provide their own packed lunches OR packed lunches could be ordered from the university.

13:15- 15:30

(Extraction of Caffeine from Tea Leaves) with a 15 min break for refreshments during this period.


Talk from Widening Participation Unit: ‘ What is it like to be an undergraduate student at Bristol University?’


A tour of the department


Lecture demonstration ‘A Pollutant’s Tale’ or ‘A Chemical Delight’


Departure back to halls of residence for dinner OR to local restaurant



Post dinner

Two short lectures from young research chemists on topics suitable for age of students followed by a fun quiz.



Day 2 Possibility 1


09:20 - 09:30

Arrival at the School of Chemistry

09:30 -12:30

Practical Session 3 The synthesis of the anaesthetic benzocaine. A 15 minute break will be scheduled during this time.


Lunch Break: Students to provide their own packed lunches

13:15 – 15:00

Practical Session 4.1 A practical chemistry competition involving some analytical chemistry including visible spectroscopy.



Day 2 Possibility 2


09:20 - 09:30

Arrival at the School of Chemistry

09:30 -12:30

Practical Session 3 The synthesis of the anaesthetic benzocaine. A 15 minute break will be scheduled during this time.


Lunch Break: Students to provide their own packed lunches

13:15 – 15:30

Practical Session 4.2 The measurement of the concentration of vanillin from commercially available vanilla essence.



Departure time could be slightly earlier so the afternoon session could be altered if required

Outline of visit

Practical Session 1: Lab Warm-up Practical Exercises

We have noted that students like some straightforward practical work to being summer schools to over come nerves!
The first exercise will be a short ‘Iodine clock experiment’, the second will involve the preparation of benzoic acid and the third some thin layer chromatography. Each develops knowledge or skills that will be employed in later practical work.

Practical Session 2: The Extraction of Caffeine from Tea Leaves

This is a tried and tested practical and has been successfully run with students as young as Y9 school students on several occasions.
Groups of 10 to 14 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.
The experiment uses solvents and equipment not normally used in schools. The equipment includes Buchner funnels/vacuum filtration, heating mantles, separation funnels and rotary evaporation apparatus.
The beauty of the experiment is that it uses a natural product from which a common compound is extracted and that the resultant material may then be analysed by melting point determination and infra red spectroscopy by the students themselves.

Practical Session 3: Synthesis of an Anaesthetic

This is a very involved and organisationally demanding practical that will make use of the skills developed in the program so far. The students will synthesis benzocaine.

Practical Session 4.1: Chemistry Competition

Alternative 1. This will allow groups of 4 students to compete against each other in a practical involving the determination of the sugar content in fizzy drinks (a gravimetric analysis) and an analysis if the concentration of a copper sulfate solution by uv-visible spectrometry.

Practical Session 4.2: Extraction and Analysis of Vanillin

Alternative 2. This will students to extract the natural substance vanillin from vanilla essence and to be able to measure the concentration through uv-visible spectroscopy.

Lecture Demonstration: A Pollutant’s Tale

This lecture looks at atmospheric chemistry and climate change. It makes use of liquid nitrogen, dry-ice and a few minor explosions.

Lecture Demonstration: A Chemical Delight

This lecture concerns itself with chemical kinetics and can also be described as a ‘flash-bang!’.

Tour of the School of Chemistry

These will be done in groups of 10-12 with a postgraduate chemist acting as guide.


Hot and cold drinks and biscuits are provided.Students must provide their own lunch (to avoid complications due to dietary requirements) or university packed lunches will be ordered at additional cost.


Health and Safety

All students and accompanying staff must obey the safety rules of the School of Chemistry. This includes the wearing of appropriate dress for lab work. The rules may be found at the outreach website or below.

The general rules include

  1. No eating in the laboratory
  2. Safety glasses will be worn correctly at all times
  3. No shorts  or short skirts
  4. All long hair to be tied back
  5. Laboratory coats to be worn done up [we will provide the lab coats and safety glasses]
  6. No open-toed shoes. Only enclosed shoes may be worn in the laboratories i.e. no sandals, flip flops or ballet type shoes where the foot flesh is exposed.

Bristol ChemLabS has a more than sufficient supply of lab coats and safety glasses available for students and accompanying staff.



The cost will be £135 per student for the lab sessions (no charge to teachers) and for bed and breakfast for each person staying in a hall of residence. An evening meal can be organised at the hall of residence if require or a local Turkish restaurant will do an evening meal at a very reasonable charge. Packed lunches can also be organised through the university at additional cost.

Careers Advice

We will endeavour to make chemistry careers literature available to every student who would like some. We obtain literature about careers in the chemical sciences from the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC),   University of Bristol and School of Chemistry prospectuses will be available as appropriate to age group.

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. In the past 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 represented is requested to complete the consent form for the students attending. This form may be found at: and return it to by post or fax.


Please contact for bookings and The School Teacher Fellow for any queries at

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.

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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