Pocklington School

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Chemists turn detectives in Schools' Analyst Competition

girl carrying out an experiment in a school laboratory

Pocklington School Lower Sixth Chemistry A level students took part in the national Royal Society of Chemistry annual Schools’ Analyst Competition, which allows students to expand their chemistry knowledge and skills through practical analytical experiments based on relevant societal or industrial problems.

Pocklington entered four teams of students to compete against each other to be crowned the overall school winner.  Each winning school team will be entered into a regional competition, where the best overall entry will also win a prize for their school.

The teams’ challenge was to identify the contents of waste barrels found abandoned by a river in the fictional town of Allvale. They had to carry out some background research first, followed by a three-hour laboratory session at school, in which they carried out their analyses.

Lower Sixth chemistry student, Georgie Taylor, gave the following account of the experience:

We had to perform three practicals which used a range of analytical skills we’d learnt from GCSEs and over the past year. The first one we did was a chromatography test, to deduce the pigments within an unknown substance. The second one was testing for halide ions in which we had to observe precipitates forming, effervescence and other reactions within the solutions to be able to identify the halide within the unknown substance. The final test was a flame test where an unknown solvent was soaked on a wooden splint and we had to compare the colour with known substances to figure out the metal ion within it.

"I thoroughly enjoyed competing in this competition; it allowed me to apply my previous knowledge to the task as well as learning new skills. It was exciting, interesting and has provided us all with a valuable, one time opportunity to write about in UCAS/job applications and given us useful qualities we can transfer from this competition into the future. It was a fun set of practicals to complete and an informational way to spend our afternoon.”

Miss Parker, teacher of Chemistry at Pocklington School, said: "A big well done to all the Lower Sixth chemists who competed with enthusiasm at this extremely busy time of the year! I was delighted to see them seizing this great opportunity to be one of only 200 schools taking part in the competition and really using the skills, knowledge and teamwork they have gained over the year in a real-life practical setting. Hopefully, this has inspired them to continue researching the possibilities beyond the A level chemistry course; fingers crossed for some excellent results!"