Marvel-lous students help Dr Strange in Top of the Bench regional final
Top teen chemists battled it out and helped Dr Strange in a regional final of the Royal Society of Chemistry's Top of the Bench competition.
By Sharon Williams
King Edward's School for Boys in Edgbaston emerged victorious, fending off 11 other teams in the Birmingham and the West Midlands section.
Their triumph at the University of Birmingham's Collaborative Teaching Laboratory (CTL) means they will now pit their wits against the rest of Britain's best in the national final.
The dozen teams at the CTL had to prove their mettle twice, first sitting a written chemistry quiz before seeing who could stand the test of time.
Students in years 9 to 11 were given a 35-question, 45-minute exam on general and topical chemistry to kick things off in the 21 January final.
The second assessment involved a practical challenge in the undergraduate wet chemistry laboratory in which teams helped Dr Strange ‘calibrate time with chemistry’ by devising a procedure for an iodine clock reaction.
Students experienced a university teaching laboratory and worked collaboratively in teams to devise a solution that changed colour one minute after mixing. One team even managed to achieve the objective exactly to the second when timed by judge Dr John Wilkie. Students were also marked on their approach, scientific method, teamwork and safety.
As a reward for their hard work, students enjoyed a buffet lunch while the judges collated the scores and identified the best teams. Prize certificates and vouchers were awarded to the top three scoring teams and each student received a participation certificate.
The winning King Edward's School for Boys team recorded a high mark in the written quiz and then devised an iodine clock to time the minute exactly. Their teacher, Dr Arico, is an alumna of the University of Birmingham and has actively supported many previous outreach events.
Concord College and Twycross House School finished in second and third place respectively. Certificates and vouchers are awarded to the top three teams (£80, £60 and £40), with an additional £50 to the winning school.
Thank you to all who participated, especially the teachers, judges and helpers who kindly gave their time on a Saturday for the event, which was sponsored by the Birmingham and West Midlands RSC Local Section.
Gratitude is expressed to Dr Adrian Wright (Academic Director of the Collaborative Teaching Laboratory) for accommodating the event; CTL technicians Cheryl Powell and Christopher Bradley for preparing the practical challenge; University of Birmingham staff Dr Wilkie and Rachel Green for judging, helping and giving tours; and RSC local section committee members Dr Mark Read, Mr Trevor Birt and Mr Les Cheriton for organising and running the event.
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