School of Science


26 Apr 2016

Loughborough University hosts 'Top of the Bench' event for fifth time

Young people from across the country arrived at Loughborough University on Saturday April 16th to take part in a prestigious national chemistry competition – the fifth 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, and aims to inspire the next generation of scientists. Schools from across the country take part in regional heats, with 32 teams arriving in Loughborough for the National Final.

The finalists completed a short written test of chemical knowledge, followed by two-hours of a practical chemical team exercise devised by Loughborough scientists Dr Matthew Turner and Sarah Turner around the theme of Energy and batteries. Meanwhile their accompanying teachers attended presentations from Loughborough and the RSC about university admissions, science courses and RSC support for teachers and schools.

The day concluded with a fun finale led by Professor Paul Thomas, called ‘Choose your Future’ where PhD students from the Chemistry Department pitched their research as a proposal and the school students had to select their favourite. Gratifyingly, their selected topics agreed with priorities within the Chemistry research portfolio!

Prizes were presented by Professor Mark Biggs, Dean of Science, and 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.

Professor Ray Jones, who coordinated the day with help from Dr Sian Williams and an enthusiastic group of students from Chemistry said:

“We are always delighted to host and support this competition, which is a fantastic way of engaging with young scholars about chemistry. The school students 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.”