Salters Festival of Chemistry 2016

School pupils use chemistry to solve murder mystery

Salters 2016

Over 60 school pupils from across the North West, including Merseyside, Lancashire, the Isle of Man, Colwyn Bay and Cumbria, came to LJMU to enjoy an exciting day in the labs, as part of the Salters' Festival of Chemistry.

Teams of four 11 to 13-year-olds from 16 different schools took part in a competitive, hands-on, practical activity, called ‘Murder Comes to Salterstown,’ where they had to use their chemistry skills to solve a murder mystery.

The pupils were asked to examine the forensic evidence taken from the imaginary crime scene to help identify the murderer. They needed to identify the white powder found at the crime scene using chemical analysis and had to compare that with the white powder found on each of the five suspects. The white powders were salts that are commonly found around the house, such as sodium chloride and calcium sulphate. Another experiment involved them matching a sample of ink found at the crime scene with the samples of ink contained in the pens of the five suspects. The school children also needed to solve a number of clues by breaking codes.

Year 8 Bebington High pupil, Mia Cartlidge (pictured above left), commented: “This is my first time being in a university and I really like it. We do experiments in school but these are more complex and test our ability more. I want to be a forensic scientist, and this has given me a real taste for it. The day has definitely lived up to my expectations, I want to come again.”

Dr Ian Bradshaw, Subject Leader at LJMU’s School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences, said: “Our aim is to show the next generation of potential scientists how science affects their daily lives, and have some fun at the same time. They get a chance to have a hands-on go with real science and learn how to solve problems using the principles of forensic science. It is also a fantastic opportunity for them to spend time at the University, and hopefully the day will encourage them to consider attending Higher Education and think about pursuing a career in Science.”

The Salters' Festivals of Chemistry are an initiative of The Salters' Institute, whose aim is to promote the appreciation of chemistry and related sciences among the young, and to encourage careers in the teaching of chemistry and in the UK chemical and allied industries.

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