The OHS Chemists have been out and about in force over the past fortnight, practising their chemistry skills and acquiring valuable new knowledge in the process.
On Wednesday 20th November, Dr Regardsoe accompanied four of our star chemists to the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Top of the Bench competition at the University of Oxford’s new and very high-tech chemistry teaching labs. Here the OHS team, comprising Claudia and Anjali (Year 9), Marianne (Year 10) and Nethra (Year 11), grappled with the newly revised structure of the competition, which places more emphasis on practical work and in doing so goes far beyond the GCSE syllabus. The girls did brilliantly to find the percentage composition of an unknown, using TLC, and other extraction techniques, and their poster came highly commended for its insightful details on the element ‘tantalum’. The RSC’s judges found the whole competition exceptionally hard to judge on the day, with our students coming within a hair’s-breadth of winning. Despite this, the girls had an unforgettable day and enjoyed a super opportunity to get hands-on experience of practical techniques.
The week previously, we sent two other chemists to the inaugural Youth Chemistry Conference held Wychwood School. Here Lucy (Year XX) and Helena (Year XX) were immersed in a university-style conference setting and tasked with presenting their unique takes on the theme ‘Elements of Everything’. With the choice of either presenting a poster or giving a talk on an element of their choice, Helena chose to present a poster all about Mercury, giving some insightful descriptions of this much-maligned element. Helena commented that, ‘the conference provided some insight into what a scientific conference would be like, and was a useful event for those who are interesting in a career in chemistry. Most people gave talks, however, you were given the opportunity to write a paper or present a poster instead; I chose to present a poster.”
Lucy, meanwhile, chose to deliver a talk on Neodymium, an unusual element with a huge range of everyday uses. Thus unorthodox approach led to Lucy being awarded the prize for ‘Most Enlightening Talk 2019’ – a superb achievement by her and our congratulations to both girls.