Lower VI students attend a Chemistry in Action day at UCL’s Institute of Education

On Wednesday the 9th of March, 32 A-level and IB chemistry students travelled up to Logan Hall in UCL’s Institute of Education to hear a series of fascinating lectures by some inspiring chemists. 
The day started with a talk given by Ellen Norman, who is Projects manager of Investigative Analysis at RSSL.  She spoke about some of the weird, wonderful and disturbing moments working for the RSSL Emergency Response Service.  
Mike Wilson spoke of the importance of haemoglobin in your blood stream to be able to stay alive and how bar-headed geese happily fly over Mount Everest, while most animals will not be able to even live at that altitude for even a few minutes. 
A lunchtime slot was partly filled with probably the most useful session on developing good exam strategies so all students achieve A*s! 
The carbon revolution followed in which Jonathan Hare (who was part of a team at Sussex University to go on to win the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1996) spoke about the journey the team undertook to discover the Buckyball, which completely changed everything scientists knew about carbon chemistry. 
Materials chemistry was delivered by Stephanie Pendlebury on saving the world’s non-renewable fossil fuels and all the side effects they might have and replace them with renewable energy, such as wind turbines and solar energy.  It was extremely interesting to learn the chemistry behind solar panels and converting light and thermal energy into electricity. 
David Smith gave an entertaining talk on the chemistry of drugs, including Walter White’s science of making crystal meth in Breaking Bad.  He also talked about the dangers that chemistry has on the human body, but also the good that it can have, by being able to save lives in emergency medication.
All in all it was an extremely interesting and thought-provoking day that showed a little insight into the intriguing and complex world of chemistry.

For more information on the programme please click here

By George Tardrew