Hands-on science sessions for crowds of local schoolchildren

Dozens of schoolchildren from across the region were able to give science a go at two major events held this month.

The Department of Chemistry opened its doors for an activity day as part of the Sheffield Outreach and Access to Medicine Scheme (SOAMS), and for the annual Salters’ Festival of Chemistry.

At the SOAMS event, on Wednesday 4 June, 90 year nine pupils from across South Yorkshire and North Derbyshire went along to chemistry and microbiology workshops to do experiments they wouldn’t get to do at school.

In the chemistry workshop, they created brightly coloured polymer slime to show how small molecules join together to form long chain polymers and how this is applied in man-made products like polyester. They also learned to use electroplating to make personalised key fobs to take home with them.

The Microbiology workshop taught pupils the different characteristics of microbes and how they can be both beneficial to us and can also be bad for our health. They took part in an epidemiology experiment, looking at how a disease can spread through shaking hands, and completed an activity about how well we wash our hands. They also looked under the microscope at different examples of microbes, including the E.coli bacteria.

A fortnight later, the University was one of 47 institutions to host an event for the Salters’ Festival of Chemistry, which runs between March and June in partnership with the Royal Society of Chemistry.

Visiting pupils used their analytical chemistry skills in a competitive, hands-on, practical activity (The Salters’ Challenge – The Blot Strokes Again!) before doing a University challenge and attending a fun lecture.

The day ended with a prize-giving ceremony, and the overall aim was to get young people more interested in chemistry, and to promote careers in the field. SOAMS, meanwhile, is designed to make a career in medicine a real possibility for local teenagers from all backgrounds. It offers support and guidance through activities to raise their aspirations to study science.

Outreach in the Faculty of Science

Department of Chemistry Schools Lab

Find out more about SOAMS

Find out more about the Salters’ Festival of Chemistry