Chemistry at Blundell's

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The Chemistry department provides an exciting working environment where practical work is an integral part of teaching at all levels. We have good laboratory facilities that are available for all lessons and have recently invested in specialist equipment to carry out advanced organic synthesis. The department has a set of laptops that are used for research and accurate recording of experimental results.

Chemistry U6 leavers, 2017
2017 U6 leavers

Our courses are popular within the school and we are proud of a fine record in examinations.

Chemistry News  

Top of the Bench Chemistry Challenge: Top School in Devon

A team of Blundell’s Chemists competed in the South West round of the national ‘Top of the Bench’ competition at the University of Bristol. The students completed two practical tasks and a knowledge quiz in an allocated time period. The students completed all the tasks to a very high standard, and finished in 2nd place out of 16 competing schools. Matilda Huntingford, David Case, Issy Leyshon and Harry List were excellent ambassadors for the school and all agreed that it was a very enjoyable and educational day.

Top of the Bench Chemistry Challenge: Top School in DevonTop of the Bench Chemistry Challenge: Top School in Devon

Top of the Bench Challenge 2017 - University of Bristol

When I was first told that I was one of the participants in the Top of the Bench Chemistry Competition at Bristol University, I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know whether I should revise on all the things that I learnt so far in this particular subject, or whether I should search up some previous experiments or competitions. There were four representatives from each 15 schools - two year 9s and one from Year 10 and another from Year 11. Our team this year consisted of James Elderfield (Year 9), Erica Park (Year 9), Sophia Marr (Year 10) and Joshua Huggett (Year 11).

In the car, Mr Mead reminded us that this competition was not about winning, but about taking part and doing the best we could do. He told us that this was a prize we got for doing well in school.

Top of the Bench ChallengeAfter our arrival at the university, we were led to a big laboratory, where we got to use all the different equipment and apparatus, which were worth a lot of money. We got to experiment with UV lights detectors and so much more and it was a privilege to participate in the competition.

After dividing our team into two, we were given four practicals to work on. One of them required a UV light detector, an equipment that costs £4,000 each!

No students received any help from any adults, and it was a competition that really stretched our skills. It also required a good teamwork as we were marked on our cooperation skills as well as our knowledge in Chemistry.

After eating lunch, all the participants and the teachers met in a lecture room where Dr Tim Harrison gave us a lecture on the subject. Although the word ‘lecture’ might strike everyone as something dull and boring, it was one of the most fun and engaging lectures I had in my life. There were so many practical's, and although some of them were experiments I had already seen in school, they all seemed new as they were done on a bigger scale.

Then came the award ‘ceremony’, where teams that came 1st to 3rd received mugs. Although we didn’t win, we believe that we came 4th, and that cheered us up! Although we didn’t win any mugs, it is not too much to say that the Chemistry competition was one of the most entertaining competition I ever went to. It made me realise how much science was important in our lives and it also brightened up a different path of my future – a path that involves science – especially Chemistry. I would be more than happy if I was given the opportunity to go again next year.

Erica Park
Year 10

Cambridge Chemistry Challenge 2017

Our Lower 6th recently took part in Cambridge Chemistry Challenge 2017.

The Lower Sixth Competition

This competition aims to stretch and challenge students interested in chemistry, and will provide an excellent experience for anyone considering taking their studies further. Set by an experienced team of teachers and university chemists, it is designed to be accessible to Year 12 students but will take them significantly beyond the syllabus and encourage them to think about science in the way they would at university.

Cambridge Chemistry Challenge 2017Cambridge Chemistry Challenge 2017

There were a total of 7056 entries into this year's competition. A total of 55 students won Roentgenium awards, 543 students won Gold awards, 1046 students won Silver awards, and 2574 students won Copper awards.

Blundell’s School students won the following awards:

  • 3 Gold awards
  • 4 Silver awards
  • 10 Copper awards

Kieran Smith, Cecilia Cheng and Aahil Mehta were our Gold Award winners.

This follows awards gained by our departing Upper 6th. Toby Whitehead won a Roentgenium award in last years competition and Francis Huntingford won a Gold award in the 2017 International Olympiad Competition.

Spectroscopy in a suitcase – 2017

Two postgraduate students from the University of Bath visited the department in September 2017 to run a spectroscopy workshop with our current Upper 6th. They brought down advanced equipment including an NMR Spectrometer and an Infrared Spectrometer, both of astronomic value. Our pupils were fortunate enough to use these to analyse sample molecules and also examined the purity of a compound they synthesised in a previous lesson. The experience was an inspiring one and as a result I’m sure, we have three pupils applying for Oxbridge Chemistry this year.

Spectroscopy in a suitcase   Spectroscopy in a suitcase

Salters Chemistry Challenge – University of Bristol – May 2017

On Friday 12th May 2017, I was lucky enough to get the wonderful privilege of being selected from my class to represent my school in the Salters Festival of Chemistry at the University of Bristol. Three additional peers also selected: Carolina Gomez-Baumgartner, George Worcester, and Henry Crease. We were led to the lecture room and we were introduced to the man who will be helping the other staff to judge us during our experiments. The teacher who was introducing us was very kind and funny and made everything very clear once we were in the labs.

Salters Chemistry Challenge teamExperiments

ExperimentsWe used Chromatography in a forensic investigation to identify unknown chemicals and figure out which of the 6 people was the ‘criminal’. We worked in partners and divided the booklet so that we would complete the task comfortably inside the time limit. I think that we worked really hard and really well as a team and when we put all our information together to answer the last few riddles and figure out who the criminal actually was and why we thought that it was them.

After completing the tasks we gathered all our stuff and went back down to the lecture room where we watched the man do fun experiments with: Liquid Nitrogen, Helium and Hydrogen Balloons, Dry Ice and doing an experiment I refer to as the ‘Elephants Toothpaste’. It was lots of fun and I really enjoyed it and that sometime in the future I will be selected to have that amazing experience again. I am very grateful to Mrs Webster for teaching me all these wonderful things and for selecting me and Mr Mead for actually taking me and supporting me through the competition. I am also extremely grateful to all the staff at the Bristol University for giving us this privilege and for helping us during the competition, it was great fun!

Eloise Holmes
Year 9

Lower 6th RSC Regional Analytical Chemistry Competition – Jan 2017

Lower 6th RSC Regional Analytical Chemistry CompetitionBonnie Price, Imogen Cotton and Alfie Gardner made up a team of three that represented the school at the annual Royal Society of Chemistry’s Analyst competition held at the University of Bristol earlier this year. Blundell's had won the event for the previous two years and therefore the team felt the pressure to follow suit. Unfortunately, they were not successful, but the opportunity to carry out experiments in the undergraduate labs was enjoyed by all.

Blundell’s Chemists reach National Final - June 2015

Congratulations to the team of Natalie Cotton, Bethany Squires and Chris Hamilton (all Year 12) who were awarded the runners up prize at the Royal Society of Chemistry's National Schools' Analyst Competition final. They qualified earlier this year by winning the regional round against some stiff competition from Exeter School, Kingswood Bath and Cheltenham Ladies College. The final was held at the Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen where the Blundell's trio finished in second place against a pool of 20 other schools, all of whom had won their respective regional competitions.

Andy Mead, Head of Chemistry at Blundell's, said "This result is a fantastic achievement for the pupils who showed immense skill, application and, perhaps most importantly, teamwork to finish above the other 398 schools that entered the competition back in January. The Royal Society of Chemistry have recognised their achievement by awarding £600 to Blundell's Chemistry Department and £30 in Amazon vouchers and certificates to Natalie, Bethany and Chris."

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