Next generation of scientists take part in chemistry challenge

14th June 2017

The next generation of scientists took part in the Salters' Institute Festival of Chemistry at the University of Sheffield this week (7 June 2017), as part of the University's commitment to widening participation in higher education.

More than 60 pupils aged 11-13, from 16 schools across Yorkshire and Derbyshire, visited the University of Sheffield's Department of Chemistry for a day of experiments and practical science. The annual event gives school pupils the opportunity to develop their practical chemistry skills, teamwork and ability to work to deadlines. This year's festival, hosted by Dr Sara Bacon, Widening Participation Officer at the University of Sheffield, consisted of two challenges: The Salters Challenge - 'Who is the Prime Suspect' where pupils used chromatography and test tube techniques to solve a mystery and The University Challenge where the budding scientists recrystallized benzoic acid using various conditions to induce crystal growth. The practical experiments were followed by an interactive lecture by Dr Jonathan Foster on the 'Chemistry of Bubbles'. The lecture provided answers to intriguing questions such as: Why are bubbles round? What are bubbles made from? How do they pop? Dr Jonathan Foster, Ramsay and Vice Chancellor's Fellow from the University of Sheffield, said: -Chemistry is a fascinating subject in itself, but it is also key to addressing many of the world's most pressing issues such as tackling climate change, creating new medicines and feeding the world. -We need more young people to be inspired to study Chemistry if we are going to meet these challenges. -I was inspired to study Chemistry when I was at school by a wonderful teacher who used to blow up water melons, make purple volcanoes and screaming Jelly Babies. Chemistry is a very practical subject and the Salters' Festival is a great opportunity for students. The University of Sheffield has a longstanding commitment to widening participation in higher education and each year works with over 500 regional schools and colleges and engages with over 40,000 school children across the UK. 'Widening participation' is the approach that universities take to increasing applications from people who may have not considered higher education as an option. Over 90 per cent of young people undertaking the University of Sheffield's sustained outreach programmes have no family history of higher education and Sheffield's record in this area makes the University one of the leading Russell Group universities for widening participation. The nationwide Salters' Institute Festival of Chemistry is an initiative which aims to excite pupils into the world of science through practical chemistry. The Salters' Festivals of Chemistry has been in partnership with the Royal Society of Chemistry since 2005, hosting events across the UK.

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