Salters' Festival of Chemistry brings together the next generation of scientists

Over 50 school pupils from across the North West, including Merseyside, Lancashire, the Isle of Man and North Wales, came to LJMU to enjoy a day in the labs, as part of the Salters' Festival of Chemistry. Teams of four 11 to 13-year-olds from 13 different schools took part in a competitive, hands-on, practical activity, called ‘Who is the Prime Suspect’ where they had to use their chemistry skills to solve a murder mystery.

The pupils examined the forensic evidence taken from the imaginary crime scene to help identify the murderer. They identified the white powder found at the crime scene using chemical analysis and compared that with the white powder found on the clothing of each of the five suspects. The white powders were in fact salts that are commonly found around the house such as sodium chloride and calcium sulphate. Another experiment involved matching a sample of ink found at the crime scene with the samples of ink contained in the pens of the six suspects. The winners were West Kirkby Grammar School, Bebington High Sports College and King Williams College.

The pupils also competed in the ‘University Challenge,’ a practical activity using their knowledge and science skills to solve the problem of controlling the time of a chemical reaction. The winners of this challenge were Kingsmead School, Wirral Grammar School for Boys and The Kings School.

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 amongst the young, and to encourage careers in the teaching of chemistry and in the UK chemical and allied industries. The Festival at Liverpool John Moores University is one of a series of 51 Festivals which are taking place at Universities and Colleges throughout the UK and the Republic of Ireland between March and June 2017.

Three of the schools, Bebington High Sports College, Cowley International College and Woodchurch High School, are also taking part in Chemistry for All, an LJMU and Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) £150,000 outreach project aimed at understanding the impact of longitudinal interventions in chemistry on target pupils from widening participation background. The project links with employers in the North West chemical sector to ensure that school age pupils know the exciting careers and opportunities chemistry can lead to.

Rhys and Connor from Year 8 at Bebington High Sports College commented on how they found the event. They said that the experience gave them the chance to see what it was like in a university and they are definitely interested in studying science and technology subjects now. They really enjoyed the practical experiments and the chance to spend time in a university lab.

Dany Hersey, a Chemistry teacher at Woodchurch High School, said:

“The Salters' Festivals of Chemistry is a brilliant chance for pupils to see scientists in a new setting, and this opens their eyes to career ideas in STEM subjects through higher education. The event allows them to be independent when learning and is always enthusing and engaging, giving them a good taster of university life.”

Completing the BSc (Hons) Chemistry at Liverpool John Moores University will help ensure you enjoy excellent career prospects and enhanced earning potential in a variety of sectors after you graduate.


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