Chemistry Success for Year 12 Students

Chemistry Success for Year 12 Students

Churston students Charley Warren, Tom Nuttall and Tara Fielden-Carter were recently placed 2nd in the South-West of England in a competition run by the Royal Society of Chemistry – Charley describes their experience:

On Tuesday 22nd of January, Tara, Tom and I travelled to Plymouth University for the Schools’ Analyst Competition.  We had completed a number of training sessions with Dr Hall, but once we arrived at the Laboratories we were on our own.

We were faced with two practical assessments, which we thought were to be completed in the first session of 2 hours.  Our first task was to find the purity of citric acid in a sample through various titrations and calculations.  We then moved on to the second experiment in just under an hour, giving us a good amount of time to finish before lunch.

The aim of the second task was to establish the concentration of orthophosphate in some samples of river water and involved many more steps than the first experiment.  We had to add a reagent sachet to each sample, shake for 30 seconds and then leave each one to stand for exactly 3 minutes – an intense blue colour was revealed if phosphate was present.  I had the role of preparing and timing all the solutions, whilst Tara used the Spectrophotometer to measure the absorbance of each sample and Tom prepared the graph. We then used the graph to calculate the concentrations.  With less than 30 minutes before lunch, it soon became obvious that we would not finish in the available time.  We then discovered that a second session was available after lunch to complete the challenge.  After just 35 minutes of the second session we were finished; we checked and double checked everything then cleared up our bench and equipment.

Once the session was over, we were re-united with our teachers to wait for the results.  The professors announced that two teams were tied in the practical assessment and were only separated by 1 point in other observations.  When we were awarded 2nd place, to say we were shocked would be an understatement.  We received our certificates and had a photo before last year’s National Champions, Truro College, were announced as the winners.  Upon reflection, the one point that separated us was rather irritating; however, at the start of the day, we did not for one second think we would come so close to becoming Regional Champions!

Charley Warren Year 12 

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