Over 50 students from 13 schools in the South London, Kent and Surrey area last week enjoyed an exciting fun-filled day of chemistry at the Salters' Festival of Chemistry, held at London South Bank University (LSBU).
The Salters Festival of Chemistry is an initiative of The Salters' Institute, whose aim is to promote the appreciation of chemistry and related sciences among the young.
The Festival, held at LSBU on 15 May, is one of a series of 49 Festivals, taking place at Universities throughout the UK and the Republic of Ireland between April and July 2013.
Amongst the teams visiting LSBU, each made up on four 11-13 year olds, were pupils from local South London schools, including Sacred Heart R.C. Secondary School, St. Saviour's & St. Olave's School, Burntwood School and Mossbourne Community Academy, as well as pupils from Surrey, Hertfordshire and Kent.
During the morning the teams took part in the competitive, hands-on, practical activity, 'The Salters' Challenge' - during which they were presented with a forensic investigation case, called 'The Body in the Staff Room'. Working in groups of four, students were encouraged to use their analytical chemistry skills to solve the case.
In the afternoon, the teams were treated to a chemical magical demonstration, before competing in the 'University Challenge', a practical activity chosen by LSBU, which involved timing the speed of a chemical reaction using the change of opacity of a solution from clear to cloudy. Local Southwark School Sacred Heart R.C. took home the winning prize for the University Challenge.
Dr Anne-Maria Brennan, Principal Lecturer in Bioscience and Forensic Science at LSBU, said: "Chemistry is important for anyone who wants to study science at university. For biologists and medical scientists it is vital to know how the chemistry of life operates. Even astrophysicists need chemistry to explain the origins and development of the universe.
"Closer to home, chemistry is a key part of our lives, the food we eat and drink, the clothes we wear, the fuel we use. All of these are based on a knowledge and understanding of chemistry. Most amazing of all the code of all living things is encoded in a chemical...DNA.
"The applications of this area of molecular biology enable us to understand how diseases operate and even help us solve crimes. Never has there been a better time to study chemistry - it opens up many opportunities to the enquiring mind."
The action-packed day ended with a Prizegiving session, during which all participating pupils were given individual fun prizes and participation certificates and the teams were awarded prizes for their schools.