Winner: Inspiration and Industry Award
University of Birmingham
For inspiring the next generation of chemists through activities that link classroom teaching to real world chemistry research.
The ChemBAM project, led by Dr Ruth Patchett, Dr Zoe Schnepp and Dr Nicola Rogers, was launched in 2017 and brings chemistry to life for school pupils across the UK and beyond. The website provides free resources, including experiments, worksheets and videos, many aimed at teachers and linking the topics of the UK national curriculum to real-world chemistry research. There are also resources designed to inspire school pupils and encourage them to consider a degree in chemistry.Read more
Since the Covid-19 crisis, the ChemBAM team has worked with volunteers from the University of Birmingham to provide a suite of home-learning resources to encourage learning and enjoyment of chemistry. The aim of the website is to promote enjoyment of and engagement with chemistry, whatever direction pupils take in their future.
The ChemBAM team is passionate about education equality and runs several projects to help teachers in disadvantaged schools provide an inspiring chemistry education experience for their pupils. These have been kindly funded by industry, individuals and also the Royal Society of Chemistry Outreach fund. For example, the ChemBOX project provides boxes of equipment to underfunded schools to enable them to run ChemBAM experiments with their classes and volunteers from the ChemBAM team offer teacher training and classroom sessions with researchers. ChemBAM is also committed to accessibility and the team has recently started developing activities and experiments that are accessible for students with a visual impairment.
What motivates you?
Education inequality is a real problem in the UK (and in most countries). It’s something that the whole ChemBAM team is passionate about changing. Our resources are all free to download and we have also been able to provide equipment to a number of disadvantaged schools so they can run our experiments in their classrooms. It’s a small contribution to a large problem but it’s something we’re really proud of and it’s easy to be motivated when you are doing something you believe in. We also work with some incredibly enthusiastic student volunteers and it’s been really exciting seeing them come up with their own ideas for activities.
What has been a highlight for you?
A highlight for the whole team has been seeing the impact our activities have in the classroom. Seeing pupils enjoying the experiments we’ve developed is really rewarding. It’s also amazing the insights that even young children can have when you discuss the science with them.
What advice would you give to a young person considering a career in chemistry?
We don’t necessarily encourage pupils to study chemistry, as we hope that our activities will encourage people to enjoy chemistry whether or not they decide to study it at A-Level or even at degree level. The aim is for people to remember chemistry as an important subject that is important across so many areas of modern life.