Light fantastic: Chemistry workshop for senior boys

Sixty Year 13 boys took part in two workshops led by researchers from Imperial College London.

Entitled Spectroscopy in a Suitcase, the workshops were organised and funded by the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC).

Two PhD candidates and one M.Chem. student from Imperial ran the two sessions for the Sixth-Formers. Spectroscopy is the study of the interaction between light and matter and is an integral part of the A-level Chemistry course.

Boys had the opportunity to hone their skills in analytical chemistry and to try out two different spectroscopic techniques, infrared spectroscopy (IR) and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (NMR).

Each workshop started with a review of IR and NMR and then students were introduced to applications such as police breathalysers. They also learned about recent developments, particularly in the area of cancer treatment, where analytical tools have been developed to differentiate between cancerous and non-cancerous cells during surgery. Boys were then able to carry out some investigations themselves using both the IR and the NMR.

""Chemistry teacher Dr Niamh Hickey added that after the workshops, the Royal Society of Chemistry generously allowed the Chemistry department to borrow the IR spectrometer for the rest of the week. This allowed Year 12 boys to be involved in extra lunchtime sessions that she was running and also enabled this year’s QE team in the RSC Top of the Bench Chemistry competition to have access to the equipment.