On Wednesday 24th May, four of our aspiring scientists travelled to Lancaster University for the Salter’s Science Competition. They were: James Griffin, Rhys Robinson, Rosie Palmer, and Alice Dunning. Entrants for this competition are from a number of schools in the North West of England and the pupils are typically drawn from Year 8 and 9 classes.

The day is primarily designed to: give pupils opportunities to experience university laboratories; exposure to cutting edge technologies and, also, develop some of the key skills that are required to be a research chemist. 

In the morning session, each group were provided with traces of white powder and an ink stained handkerchief which were found on a ‘murder victim’. Information written in CODE which needed to be decrypted before the group could progress on to a series of quantitative and qualitative analyses.

Throughout the day, pupils were assessed not only on their abilities to carry out scientific tasks but also on their proficiencies to generate accurate data and interpret these using their collective powers of deduction.

A considerable emphasis was also placed on: designing an experiment; writing a scientific report and teamwork. The Sedbergh entrants performed very well in the majority of the categories but dropped marks in the final assessment – this involved the design of an endothermic reaction.

Our quartet came 3rd  overall and I am positive that they will have gained much from the experience. During the day, they witnessed some incredible technologies which included a Photonic Laser Printer, High Resolution NMR, HPLC and Mass Spectrometry devices and, also, worked in the newly refurbished Faraday Laboratories.

Our thanks to the event organisers: Dr John Baum, Dr Katayune Presland (RSC) and Miss Laura Seamons (The Salters’ Institute).

Dr Hoskin

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