Salters Institute Festival of Chemistry

Last term, three other year 8 girls and I went on a chemistry trip to UCL, where we and many other schools took part in a series of exciting challenges and interesting lectures and demonstrations, run by the Salters Institute. It was a really great way to spend the day, and an excellent way to learn more about the subject and get into the sciences a bit more.

Our first activity was the Salters Challenge. It included a range of forensic analysis that we had learned last year, such as chromatography and comparing samples and reactions. We decided to divide into pairs and work through one challenge each, one team on chromatography, the other on comparisons. We were then able to cross check and find the most accurate results. It was a great opportunity to refresh prior knowledge and refine skills we learned last year.

Our second challenge of the day was the University Challenge. This was by far the more difficult one, but required more information that we had learned this year, such as ionic formulae and balancing equations. We were tasked with simple instructions; time a reaction which creates sulfur and water, so that it becomes fully opaque in exactly one minute. Even so, it was a challenging ask, but again, a really fun experience and an exciting way to broaden our chemistry knowledge. I’m not sure how we came in comparison to other schools, but I still feel it was a great way to learn and have fun with science.

We finished off the day with a lecture and prize giving, in which we enjoyed an amazing and interactive talk from one of the professors. We learned all about the different states of matter and how they are defined and changed, through many hilarious demonstrations of changes in state. The talk ended with a bang, with liquid nitrogen – cooled homemade ice cream, made right in front of us! The trip was an excellent and educational way to enjoy and explore new concepts, as well as familiarising with old ones, and all round a great experience – I loved it.

– Ella, year 8