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23 Apr 2013

Top of the Bench returns to Loughborough University

Young people from across the country came to Loughborough University on Saturday (April 20) to take part in a prestigious national chemistry competition – the second time the campus has hosted the event.

‘Top of the Bench’ is run by the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) for 14-16 year-olds.  Its aim is to increase the participation of young people in chemistry and inspire the next generation of scientists.

Schools from across the country took part in the preliminary rounds of the competition, with almost 30 teams from the UK, and even one from Belgium, progressing to the finals.

The finalists had to complete a short factual test of chemical knowledge, followed by two-hours of practical chemical problem-solving team exercises. Whilst at the campus their accompanying teachers also attended presentations from the RSC and Loughborough about university admissions, science courses and RSC support for teachers and schools.  The day concluded with a lecture by Professor Paul Thomas, Head of Loughborough’s Department of Chemistry, about the science of scents and how one day soon our breath and skin chemistry will be the basis of diagnosis.

Prizes were awarded for the best overall performance – the Top of the Bench team – and to five runner-up teams, along with the Jacqui Clee Award, which recognised the most outstanding individual contribution of the day.  They were presented by Loughborough University Vice Chancellor, Professor Robert Allison and Professor Jim Iley, Executive Director for Science and Education at the RSC.

Professor Paul Thomas said: “We are always delighted to host and support this competition, which is a fantastic way of engaging with young scholars about chemistry.  The pupils were impressive and a joy to meet and play host to, and the standard was formidably high.  The event was a great success and all those that took part thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

“At Loughborough we are committed to encouraging participation in science, and we believe that there is no better platform for this than the Top of the Bench competition.”

Professor Allison added: “It was an honour for Loughborough to host such an inspiring group of young people – the scientists of tomorrow.”


Notes for editors

Article reference number: PR 13/64

(1) The prize winners were:

1st  - Breadalbane Academy, Aberfeldy, Perthshire
2nd - Wolsingham School and Community College, Wolsingham, County Durham
3rd - Newfield School, Sheffield
4th - North Halifax Grammar School
5th - Dr Challoners Grammar School, Little Chalfont, Buckinghamshire
6th - Ipswich School

(2) Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines.

It was awarded the coveted Sunday Times University of the Year 2008-09 title, and is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in national newspaper league tables. In the 2011 National Student Survey, Loughborough was voted one of the top universities in the UK, and has topped the Times Higher Education league for the Best Student Experience in England every year since the poll's inception in 2006. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, the University has been awarded six Queen's Anniversary Prizes.

It is a member of the 1994 Group of 11 leading research-intensive universities. The Group was established in 1994 to promote excellence in university research and teaching. Each member undertakes diverse and high-quality research, while ensuring excellent levels of teaching and student experience.

Contact for all media enquiries

Judy Wing
Senior PR Officer
Loughborough University
T: 01509 228697