A team of budding Sidcot School scientists have won the regional heat of the Royal Society of Chemistry’s ‘Top of the Bench’ competition at Bristol University. Tasked with completing a series of scientific experiments, the four Cheddar Valley students fought off fierce competition from 15 schools to secure their place in the final.
The Sidcot team of George Wayne (16) and Amelia Heslington (15) both from Weston-super-Mare, Nina Guy (14) from Burrington and James King (14) of Cheddar were provided with written instructions, apparatus and chemicals needed to create the experiments. They were scored on teamwork, organisation and safety as well as their results and written findings.
James King said: “We had to work as a team to time chemical reactions. It was a great experience and I’m really looking forward to the next round.”
Sidcot’s Head of Science, Jim Scott, said: “At Sidcot we encourage students to be curious about the world and to explore and challenge their perceptions through scientific experiments. Chemistry is a magical subject that allows students to see transformations literally take place before their very eyes. There were certainly lots of bangs and flashes throughout the competition and we were delighted that our young chemists were rewarded for their hard work and enthusiasm.”
Students were also marked on how accurate their experiments were. Provided with two substances which when mixed created a delayed reaction, their challenge was to work out the quantities to change the delay by 30, 45, 50 and 60 seconds.
George Wayne said: “I do enjoy chemistry – it is fascinating to see how chemicals react – but my aim is to become a barrister and I think the skills to analyse data which I am learning in science are appropriate everywhere.”
In 2014 77% of Chemistry GCSE results at the independent Quaker school were graded A* to B. The national ‘Top of the Bench’ competition which has been run by the Royal Society of Chemistry for over 20 years is for schoolchildren aged 13-16. It is designed to encourage students to consider a career in chemistry and to help develop the next generation of talented scientists. The Sidcot team will now compete in the national final held at Loughborough University in April.