Chemistry at Work – Community College Whitstable

 December 12 2013 | Views: 3730

Kent and Medway

Kent & Medway STEM in collaboration with The Royal Society of Chemistry have yet again organised another successful event ‘Chemistry at Work; which aims to introduce school students to their local chemical industry and to demonstrate how the chemistry which they are learning at school is used by a variety of people in their work. The presenters represent a wide range of companies and other organisations.

On December 12th 2013 Chemistry at Work had eight presenters providing exciting and diverse interactive experiments.
An explosive presentation was provided by John Coad’s from Key Stage Solutions, Inferno – The Science of Fire! Getting students to understand how each time you light a fire, chemical reaction is taking place. It was a spectacular show which explored how we make fire and how we can control it.
Student feedback ‘The inferno study was a lot of fun and had quite a loud bang at the end.  There was lots of interesting information in it’

Tetrad Discovery Limited The discovery of Penicillin' presented by Simon Westbrook, Adrian Herron and Dominique Westbrook, discussed the discovery and development of penicillin. The role Sandwich Discovery Park had in the production and discovery of novel antibiotics. Students were taught basic microscope slide staining techniques; they identified gram positive and negative bacteria and had a demonstration of how antibiotics work.

Students got the chance to observe the use of ultrasound technology and centrifuging of blood samples in Lucinda Howland’s from Canterbury Christ Church UniversityHow Does the Cardiovascular System Adapt to Make Athletes Super Human? ’ Focusing specifically on how the blood transports oxygen, nutrients, carbon dioxide and waste products within the body.  The students had a look inside the athlete to measure how much blood is being pumped around their body and also the composition of their blood. This example of chemistry is invaluable as it allows scientists to monitor progress, adapt training programmes and provide recommendations to athletes.

Students got an insight into Forensic Chemistry from Shauna McCusker and Dave Belsom who are part of The Forensic team at Canterbury Christ Church, who have gathered a wealth of knowledge on investigating crime, using Forensic methods and the interpretation for Forensic Evidence, explained about the work of a forensic chemist. They gave students the opportunity to compare and enhance invisible finger prints
Student feedback ‘Fingerprinting was exciting as you felt like a real forensic scientist using specialist equipment that a forensic team would use’

Freezing flowers, floating balloons, dry ice, melting polystyrene were just some of the Chemical Elements and their Compounds demonstrations given by research chemist David Hunter from Axia Chemicals who was also supported by Jannah Ryan a STEM ambassador. The students got to look at a small cross section of elements and how their physical properties have dictated their historical and present day use. Compounds were made and conversely, the reverse reaction was demonstrated. This was a very hands on presentation using the materials on display, and all students were engaged and intrigued!
Student feedback ‘I really liked watching the scientist mix gas and air in a bottle and watching it fly into the air and make a massive bang, I think everyone that was behind me jumped out of their skin!’

Students were able to recover a drug sample from a crime scene and use thin layer chromatography in order to identify what the drug could be, in a Chromatography presentation by Dr Victoria Mason, Ollie Brown and Mike Shipman from The University of Kent. This interactive workshop covered the principles of Chromatography, explaining the different types that can be used and possible applications. 
Student feedback ‘Chromatography was fun. When we shone the UV light on our TLC plate after the experiment we saw luminous purple dots and it worked- we could identify the unknown drug’

Young science enthusiasts from Canterbury College Alan Broadhurst, Ryan Clarke, and Stephanie Holman took on their first STEM ambassador activity by doing a workshop on SLIME. This allowed students to develop their understanding on this reversible cross-linking gel and how the cross-linking between the polymer chains is what makes this material successful as slime. All students left the session having made some of this fascinating material, which they had a lot of fun playing with!
From the mouth of a student ‘The slime workshop was fun and was amazing how the chemicals caused the changes’

BLEVE Cooking Fire Demonstration displayed how science of fire (physics and chemistry) is needed by fire-fighters and fire investigators to understand fire development by Ray Aanstad and Asjad Hussain – Community Safety Advisors from Kent and Fire Rescue. They displayed how smoke itself becomes fuel and the methods of fire spread and how smoke allows the development of small fire to involve a whole room. They showed the students how fire fighters read fire indicators in order to understand the correct techniques for extinguishing a fire safety. They also demonstrated how fire investigators read post fire indicators to allow the trained investigator to ascertain the origin and cause of the fire.

Students comment ‘I especially enjoyed the fireball show at the end because we were so close you could feel the warmth on your face, standing in the cold – it was worth it’

Overall feedback
‘I loved the STEM activity day because it was so interactive which made it really interesting. It was a good learning experience teaching us how science applied to our daily lives and how it can be dangerous. We Watched demonstrations and took part in workshops. I enjoyed the day immensely’

‘The stem day was a great success. I learnt a lot about different aspects of science, and felt it would be beneficial to other year groups as well. We did do lots of experiments which were widely enjoyed and saw several demonstrations which were widely enjoyed. I would definitely recommend another STEM DAY!’


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If you would like The STEM Hub to help organise an event like this for your school/setting then please contact us today:
Email: kentandmedwaystem@canterbury.ac.uk
Tel: 01227 782662

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