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Pupils at the Festival
Pupils at the Festival
Judges Lee Reilly and Richard Newley
Judges Lee Reilly and Richard Newley
Pupils at the Festival
Pupils at the Festival

Internal News - 27 July 2006

Chemistry demonstrations creates buzz among students

Staff and students from the Department of Chemistry have been spreading the word about the excitement of science at a series of outreach events.

Around 120 pupils from 30 schools in the West of England took the chance to prove themselves as chemists at a competition held at the Department.

Teams of four 11-13 year olds attended one of two day-long Salters’ Festivals of Chemistry held at Bath and organised by Dr Gareth Price.

They competed in a practical activity, called “The Mystery at Salty Towers” in which they used analytical chemistry and problem solving skills to identify a robber in an exercise of forensic science.

Team prizes were awarded for their chemical skills, teamwork and problem solving abilities. In addition pupils were given prizes for individual merit.

Pupils also were entertained by a demonstration entitled “The Magic of Chemistry”, which showed how interesting and exciting chemistry can be as a subject for further study.

After the festival, one of the teachers said: “The Festival was a great success - my students came away buzzing about science”.

The Festivals at Bath were sponsored by AstraZeneca Avonmouth and Reading Scientific Services Ltd, and additional prizes were paid for by the widening participation initiatives fund. The Bath events were one of several Salters’ Festivals that took place across the UK.

The judging panel was constituted from not only staff from the department – Dr Simon Bedford and Dr Lee Reilly – but also from chemical industrialists AstraZeneca, Ipsen (Sterix Ltd) and Messier-Dowty.

The Salters' Festivals of Chemistry are an initiative of The Salters' Institute, whose aim is to promote the appreciation of chemistry, make it more relevant and fun to students.

In addition, the Department’s students have this year acted as ambassadors for chemistry by going out to local schools to encourage pupils’ interest in the subject. They were taking part in the University Ambassadors Scheme, which works to stop the decline in the numbers of pupils taking science as a subject and encouraging those that would not normally go onto higher education or who have stereotypical views of what scientists do.

They visited schools in the region, including George Ward in Melksham. One of the projects, jointly run by undergraduates David Moody and Gerry Brandreth, involved making a series of chemical substances in school and then analysing the results with the departments NMR (nuclear magnetic resonance), infra-red and mass spectrometry equipment.

Access to this equipment, which is not available in schools, brings the chemistry up to date and puts it into context so that pupils can understand it better. The project was supervised by Dr Bedford in the Department and Ms Sarah Bubyer, the Head of Chemistry, Ralph Allen School, Bath.

The University hopes that this will build up a firm links with participating schools, and that other departments will provide ambassadors to the scheme. Other non-science departments are considering the UAS scheme, in particular European Studies & Modern Languages, who will pilot UAS in the coming year.

The judges at the Salters Festival from industry were:

• Gordon Plummer - AstraZeneca
• Phil Hopes - AstraZeneca
• Nigel Vicker - Ipsen (Sterix Ltd)
• Richard Newley - Messier-Dowty

For more information contact:
Dr Gareth Price
Dr Simon Bedford