The Salters' Institute Festivals of Chemistry 2017

Sixty four students from 16 schools across Yorkshire and Derbyshire visited the department on the 7th of June to take part in the Salters’ Institute Festival of Chemistry. This exciting day of practical-chemistry invited teams of four 11-13 year olds to perform experiments in a university environment.

The nationwide Salters’ Institute Festivals of Chemistry are an initiative of the Salters’ Institute whose aim is to excite pupils into the world of science through practical chemistry. In addition, since 2005 the Salters’ Festivals of Chemistry have been in partnership with the Royal Society of Chemistry. For more information on the Salters’ Institute visit their website

Students participating in the Salters Festival of ChemistryStudents participating in the Salters Festival of ChemistryThis annual festival is hosted by participating universities around the country inviting local secondary schools. Students are tested on their practical skills, teamwork and ability to work to deadlines while still performing all necessary tasks. More importantly it is to show how fun chemistry, and science in general, can be!

This year’s festival, hosted by Dr Sara Bacon, offered two different challenges for participants. The first, called the Salters Challenge, tasked students to find out “Who is the Prime Suspect” by using chromatography, test tube techniques and general deductive processing. The second, called the University Challenge, tasked students to recrystallize benzoic acid using various conditions to induce crystal growth. Both challenges involve using practical chemistry techniques that students might not be able to perform in their schools taking advantage of the facilities on offer in a university setting.

Dr Jonathan Foster presenting the Chemistry of Bubbles lectureDr Jonathan Foster presenting combustible bubblesThe practical experiments were followed by a fun lecture presented by Dr Jonathan Foster, with the assistance of Dan Reader and Adam Ford, on the “Chemistry of Bubbles”. This lecture covered various properties of bubbles including: Why are bubbles round? What are bubbles made from? How do they pop? In addition to the presentation, Dr Foster and Dan had a series of demonstrations to entertain students. These included forming giant bubbles to encapsulate volunteering students; freezing bubbles using liquid nitrogen; and forming combustible methane-filled bubbles.

The day ended with awarding prizes to the students who demonstrated excellent teamwork and practical skills. The winning teams for the two challenges were.

Salters Challenge

1st Place

William Farr C of E Comprehensive School

2nd Place

King Edward VII School

3rd Place

Hymers College

University Challenge

1st Place

Campsmount School

2nd Place

Parkside Community School

3rd Place

Nottingham High School

In addition, St Mary’s Catholic High School was recognised as a judge’s award for excellent report writing.

There are a great number of people responsible for making this event a success. Firstly, the Salters’ Institute, who in partnership with the Royal Society of Chemistry have been able to arrange the nationwide events. Secondly, Rejuvetech and the Health and Safety Laboratory who sponsored the event and judged the students work. Finally, to all the various members of staff who helped arrange the activities of the day and postgraduate and undergraduate students who volunteered their time to talk to students.

Written By:
Joe Clarke

With thanks and contributions from the following:
Judges: Dr David Hogg, Dr Paul Johnson, Katie Owen, Elaine Frary
Salters' Representative: Dr Laura Seamans
Staff: Prof. Mike Ward, Dr Sara Bacon, Sarah Johnson, Richard Bottomley, Adam Ford, David Towers, Dr Jonathan Foster, Dr Joanna Buckley
Students Sam Ashworth, Ian Bennet, Jasmine Corron, Shannon Evans, Alec Johns, Anjalee Kalar, Emma Owens, Rheanna Perry, Dan Reader, Prea Singh.