Having swept other schools aside to win the regional round of the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Top of the Bench competition, QE went on to take third place at the national final.
The team of four were competing against 32 other finalists – mostly from across the UK, but with some teams even travelling from schools in Belgium – at the event held at the University of Birmingham.
Chemistry teacher Charani Dharmawardhane said: “I was extremely proud of the boys, and it was great to see their talents being recognised.”
QE has a strong record in Top of the Bench at both regional and national level. This year’s team, comprising Year 9’s Amogh Bhartia, Bikiran Behera, of Year 10, Hari Gajendran, of Year 11, and Heemy Kalam, of Year 9, led throughout the Chilterns and Middlesex regional heat at St Benedict’s School in Ealing in the autumn to claim their place in the national final.
At Birmingham, they faced a two-stage challenge in the competition, which assesses competitors’ knowledge, teamwork, and competency when faced with unknown situations. This year’s event theme was Materials.
After a welcome from Dr Mark Read from Birmingham University and Steve Nelmes from the Royal Society of Chemistry, the competitors first had to sit individual tests designed to assess their knowledge of Chemistry in areas well beyond what they would normally learn in the classroom.
Then they faced a practical challenge – an experiment based on biodegradable plastics, particularly those derived from polylactic acid (PLA).
Following the experiment, the boys attended an interactive lecture from Connor Stubbs, a Birmingham University expert on plastics and the environment, and had the opportunity to familiarise themselves with issues surrounding the use of plastics.
Commenting afterwards, Hari said: “I really enjoyed the day and the chance to explore Chemistry outside of the classroom.”