On the 15th November the Year 12 chemistry students went on a practical laboratory experience to the University of Bristol.
The aim was to extract caffeine from tea leaves and to use laboratory equipment and techniques which are not available in school labs. The work was supported by undergraduate and postgraduate students, allowing our pupils to ask questions about university life as well as about studying chemistry at a higher level.
The day finished with two talks on postgraduate research which kept students updated on what is happening at the cutting-edge of chemistry, followed by an engaging lecture demonstration with lots of whizzes and bangs.
Our students were a credit to us once again and the experience was extremely valuable.
Below are some of the comments that they made on their return:
“I found it very interesting as I learnt about different paths of chemistry that I did not think that I could go into before, such as making new catalysts from transition metals which was fascinating. The experiment in the labs was fun and relevant, I saw a spectrometer for IR for the first time and learnt how it works. Overall: a good experience. I felt very nervous handling equipment which is very specialist and delicate but now my confidence has increased by seeing that I was able to obtain a very pure compound and also not break anything!”
“The Bristol chemistry trip was a great one for me, because it really helped me see what university-level chemistry is like. We attempted to extract pure caffiene from teabags, and had to test our product to see if it was what we wanted by checking the melting point and its infrared spectrum. It made me realise that chemists don’t really know what they’ve made until they’ve run tests on it- there’s a lot of room for mistakes, but they will help you get to where you need to be! We also had some lectures from chemistry students who are studying at Bristol about what they do there. It was overall a very eye opening experience for me that helped me realise just how close further education is, what it’s like and what I would like to do at university. I definitley plan on going into a chemistry-related field in university and this trip just solidified that dream.”
“The trip was a real eye-opener to the world of chemistry and how it applies to the real world. It sparked my interest in chemistry at university. The experiment we carried out of extracting caffeine from tea leaves was very interesting especially about how the yield from 10 teabags was so minuscule. If given the opportunity, I would definitely go again.”