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Uncovering Chemistry Secrets

21 September 2007

Schoolchildren from across Britain have taken part in a chemistry workshop at the University designed to encourage interest in the subject and address the growing shortage of scientists in the UK.

Some 350 A-Level pupils from as far as Southampton have attended the ‘Uncovering Chemistry Secrets’ workshop hosted by the School of Chemistry, with a further 150 participating in Bangor University where the project has recently been adopted.

The aim of the workshop is to help pupils understand the relevance of chemistry in the day-to-day world and get hands-on experience of the subject. With access to state-of-the-art equipment and instruments the students are able to perform their own exercises and experiments which are directly related to the chemistry A-Level curriculum.

Innovation and Engagement co-ordinator at the School of Chemistry, Peter Hollamby, said: "Through the workshops we’re trying to get rid of the myths surrounding the study of chemistry and show people the relevance of the subject. Hands-on activities allow the pupils to find out what chemistry is all about, and hopefully consider studying the area further. Chemistry is a subject of strategic importance nationally, as is the need to excite and engage future generations of students. We hope that the workshops will inspire some of the students to pursue the area and become the chemistry experts of tomorrow."

Now in its fifth successive year, ‘Uncovering Chemistry Secrets’ was designed and developed by Peter Hollamby and Professor Peter Edwards of the School of Chemistry. The workshop has been fully subscribed since its inception and the numbers attending increase year on year.

Professor Edwards said: "The workshop shows chemistry in an enjoyable and informative way; a subject which is considered to be challenging becomes more attractive after seeing its relevance and wide reaching importance in our every-day lives.

"The practical laboratory experience that A-Level students need can sometimes be restricted as some of the techniques described at A-level are based upon expensive equipment no school can afford. Here at the University we can show students this equipment and how it operates giving a more rounded experience that is educationally much more valuable."

The workshop will come to a close today, 21 September, and another event is planned for next year.