Chemistry goes to Singapore
9 January 2008
Bristol ChemLabS School Teacher Fellow, Tim Harrison, and three postgraduates from the School of Chemistry travelled to Singapore in December to provide chemistry workshops for 13- to 16-year-olds.
Practical work involved some simple ‘warm-up’ exercises followed by more in-depth work where students got to use equipment not commonly found in Singaporean schools. Some of the more challenging experiments included extracting caffeine from local tea and making biodiesel from vegetable oil.
Mr Harrison, who led the Bristol team in the joint venture, said: ‘It is a pleasure to work with the academics and postgraduates from the National University of Singapore to provide Singaporean students with the opportunity to work alongside practising chemists in a university laboratory setting.’
The workshops were designed to give students the chance to see what it is like to be a science student at university. The blend of practical work and lectures was modelled on the successful package used by the School of Chemistry for its own outreach work. The feedback from students has been very positive, with students requesting longer workshops in coming years.
A comment from one of the participating students sums up one of the two-day workshops: ‘It was a really great experience. It shows people that chemistry is more than dull textbooks, mistakes and red marks; it can be fun and interesting too! There’s a whole world of new stuff out there.’
Bristol postgraduate chemist, Marcus Medley, said: ‘It has been a fantastic experience working in partnership with the National University of Singapore to deliver a workshop that not only excites and enthuses, but also challenges young people’s attitudes towards science and studying chemistry.’