A level pupils get a taste of studying Chemistry

Chemistry A levels

Sixth form students from three Welsh schools were given an introduction to studying Chemistry at the University of South Wales this week.

A level pupils from Ysgol Dewi Sant in St David’s, Pembrokeshire, Milford Haven School and St David’s Catholic College in Cardiff took part in the three-day event.

They had the opportunity to speak to undergraduate Chemistry students, as well as being able to put their scientific knowledge into practice during lab-based sessions.

Chemistry event 2014

The first session was based on organic chemistry, focusing on the synthesis of esters using the well-known reaction of a carboxylic acid and alcohol. Students were able to learn about the importance of esters in our everyday lives, as flavourings and fragrances as well as materials such as polyester.

After synthesising some simple esters and identifying their characteristic smell, the students made two types of polyesters and competed to draw the longest polyester fibre.

The second session was on physical chemistry, exploring the relationship between the colour of a solution and the light it transmits, and the concentration of a solution and its corresponding absorbance using a UV/VIS spectrometer.

Caroline Blair, a Chemistry teacher at Ysgol Dewi Sant, said: “It has been great to see the students getting practical experience in the labs, as it allows them to put what they have learnt into practice. Hopefully this opportunity will help encourage some of them to consider furthering their studies in Chemistry.”

Ryan Beckerleg, an A level Chemistry student at Milford Haven School, added: “We’ve really enjoyed spending time in the labs and getting to use the state of the art equipment at the University. It’s a good way to demonstrate how esters work, because now we can bring the theory in our textbooks to life.”

Dr Suzy Kean, Senior Lecturer in Chemistry at the University of South Wales, said: “The enthusiasm and enjoyment we see in the visiting students is one of the main reasons why we do these events.

“At USW we have some fantastic facilities, a great teaching team, and best of all some very enthusiastic current students which we are proud to show off at these events

“Speaking with both the students and their teachers really helps us touch base with our wider scientific community. I always look forward to these days and, as always, hope we have inspired the next great chemist or pharmaceutical scientist to study at USW with us.”

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