Bright Sparks - local schoolchildren inspired by chemistry competition
Release Date 21 May 2015
Over 120 pupils from 31 schools across the region put their chemistry, team-work and problem-solving skills to the test at the University of Reading over 6 and 13 May.
The pupils were taking part in the Salters' Festival of Chemistry, hosted by the University's Department of Chemistry.
Teams of four from each school, made up of pupils from Years 7 and 8, were set two chemistry challenges. During the morning the teams took part in a competitive, hands-on, practical activity, "The Salters' Challenge" - "Trouble at the Salt Mine!" in where they used their analytical chemistry skills.
In the afternoon, they competed in the ‘University Challenge', a practical activity chosen by the University, in which they were required to identify the composition of a material of mysterious extra-terrestrial origin.
This was be followed by a fascinating lecture by Dr Ben Littlefield, Faculty Outreach & Access Facilitator, showcasing current Reading research through exciting and thought-provoking chemical demonstrations. The day ended with a prizegiving where all participants were given individual fun prizes and participation certificates, and the winning teams were awarded prizes for their schools.
Dr Littlefield said: "These kinds of events are incredibly important because they can inspire future generations of scientists and give visiting students a real taste of what chemistry has to offer. Every visiting student was fantastic and we were blown away by their enthusiasm and innovative approaches to really quite challenging chemical concepts. It was a pleasure to host them and hopefully we will see them again soon here at the University of Reading."
Jenny Mulhearn, science teacher at Claires Court school in Maidenhead, added: "Salter's Festivals of Chemistry are a valuable experience for any budding scientist. The experience of working in a university laboratory is both exciting and inspiring to enthusiastic students who thoroughly enjoy the day.
"The activities are both challenging, yet fun and provide an insight into the application of the science which they study. The University of Reading's festivals are very popular so can be hard to get into. However we always try as we are guaranteed a warm welcome and a well organised day, which ends with a bang, thanks to a fantastic demonstration lecture. We hope to keep returning!"
The Salters' Festivals of Chemistry are an initiative of The Salters' Institute, whose aim is to promote the appreciation of chemistry and related sciences amongst the young, and to encourage careers in the teaching of chemistry and in the UK chemical and allied industries.
The Festival at The University of Reading is one of a series of 49 Festivals which are taking place at Universities and Colleges throughout the UK and the Republic of Ireland between March and June 2015.