CHEMISTRY AT WORK 22ND JUNE
A group of eight Year 9 students attended an excellent day of workshops which was held at Canterbury Christ Church University and organised by the Royal Society of Chemistry.
We started with a fantastic presentation on the use of elements including aluminium for overhead power cables (even though it is not a particularly good conductor it is much lighter than copper which is used for wiring in our houses), why street lights glow orange (they use sodium vapour) and that vanadium compounds can be used to store electricity.
We also learnt that some 2 pence coins are magnetic and some are not. This is because their design had to be changed to make them cheaper to manufacture and so they contain iron which is magnetic. We can all test our 2p coins using a fridge magnet to find out the year that iron was introduced into the coins.
We then went to a Forensics workshop where we discovered how difficult it is to remove blood traces from a murder scene. Even though the blood may not be visible to the naked eye the investigating officers use a product called Luminol that glows blue in the presence of blood. One of our students asked how it worked and the presenters were unable to give a detailed answer! They all agreed that it was an excellent question and sent an email the following day to tell us the answer.
We also attended a workshop on classifying and recycling plastics where we used an infrared spectrometer to identify plastics. We found that the film used to cover the plastic containers that contain meat and other food products is made of two different plastics and so it cannot be recycled.
We learnt about how commercial tomato growers control the conditions in a greenhouse to make sure that then plants produce lots of tasty tomatoes. The tomato plants end up 14 meters tall by the end of their growing season! We had the chance to taste test the tomatoes and we can confirm that they were delicious.
We also learnt some of the science that goes into designing and making medicines and how important it is to design something that is exactly the right shape. If it is the wrong shape the body may think it is something harmful and not helpful and that would trigger an immune response. We had to try to tie balloons into exactly the right shape to model the difficulty that scientists have!
We also learnt about surfactants which are important in the design of pesticides because the chemicals have to wet the leaf surface rather than sit on the top of the leaf in a ball. They are also important in designing bubble mixture to allow to make large, long-lasting bubbles.
In all the workshops the presenters commented how interested, polite and engaged in the tasks our students were, so a massive well done to Alex, Cameron, Finlay, Dominica, Lauren, Sabe, Uthara and Ross.
Huge thanks to Deacon Ian who drove us there and back.
Science teacher and STEM co-ordinator