School children solve murder mystery at University

Students from schools across Yorkshire and the wider region were yesterday investigating a murder mystery at the University of Sheffield, as part of the Salters' Festival of Chemistry. The event, which was held at the University on Wednesday 22 April 2009, gave students the chance to learn about the fascinating world of chemistry in a practical and fun way.

11 schools from across the region took part in the day, with teams of four pupils representing each school. During the morning, the teams took part in competitive practical activity, 'Murder at Saltmarsh Farm.' The students were presented with samples from an imaginary crime scene and had to investigate, using simple chemical reactions and techniques, who committed the crime from the evidence they collected.

In the afternoon, the students competed in the 'University Challenge', a practical activity chosen by the University, in which they were required to form their own pH indicators.
This was followed by a magical chemical demonstration focused on liquid nitrogen from Will Davey, from the Department of Chemistry.

The day ended with a prize giving in which all the participants were given individual prizes and participation certificates. Dronfield Henry Fanshawe School won the murder mystery activity in the morning, and Queen Elizabeth's High School won the afternoon 'University Challenge' activity. Both winning schools were awarded prizes for their schools.

The Salters' Festivals 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 at the University of Sheffield is one of a series of fifty-five festivals that take place at forty-five universities throughout the UK and the Republic of Ireland between March and June 2009.

Dr Julie Hyde, from the University's Department of Chemistry and who hosted the festival, said: "The annual Salters' Festival allows students to experience a full day of hands-on, fun, experimental work as well as getting the chance to work in a University laboratory. The day has been a real success, the Salters' challenge is a great way for students to get excited about university and chemistry."

Professor Mike Ward, Head of the University's Department of Chemistry, commented: "The Department of Chemistry is delighted to host the Salter's Festival again, as it brings the excitement of practical chemistry to secondary school children. All the teams did an excellent job in both activities, and it was hard to judge between the winning teams."

Notes for Editors: The schools involved in the day were;

Deincourt Community School, Dronfield Henry Fanshawe School, Huntcliffe School, Mexborough School, Parkside Community School, Queen Elizabeth's High School, Rawmarsh School, Sheffield High School, St Mary's RC High School, The Giles School and Sixth Form Centre, Wingfield Business and Enterprise College.

The Festivals are one-day events for schools held at Universities throughout the UK and Ireland. The first series of Festivals was held in 1991. Festivals were then held in 1992, 1994, 1996, 1998 and 2000. Since 2000 Festivals have been held every year. In 2009 there will be a series of fifty-five Festivals being hosted by forty-five universities between March and June. The aim of the Festivals is to make chemistry more exciting, more relevant and fun to students aged 11 to 13 years and to encourage schools to set up their own chemistry clubs.

Competing schools are represented by a team of four students from years 7 or 8 (or equivalent in Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland). Prizes for the winning schools are awarded at each Festival and all participants receive fun prizes and certificates. During the last eight years, over 21,900 students have experienced the fun of practical chemistry through the Salters' Festivals of Chemistry.

Since 1991 sponsorship support of the Festivals has been raised from over one hundred companies. Many of the Festivals are also sponsored by local companies.

The Salters' Company is one of the Great Twelve City of London Livery Companies and was founded in 1394 for the medieval trade in salt. The Company's activities today are centred on charitable and educational giving. The Salters' Institute, established in 1918, and now the Flagship Charity of the Salters' Company, aims 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.

The Institute's three core activities are the Salters' Festivals of Chemistry for 11 to 13 year olds; Salters' Chemistry Camps for those aged 15, in partnership with other scientific institutions, and Curriculum Development, undertaken at The University of York, including Twenty First Century Science and Salters-Nuffield Advanced Biology, Salters Advanced Chemistry and Salters Horners Advanced Physics.

For further information please contact: Catherine Milburn, Media Relations Officer on 0114 2225339 or email C.L.Milburn@sheffield.ac.uk