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Chemical masterclass

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Aspiring chemists gathered in St Andrews this week (Tuesday 26 January) to take part in the regional final of a national competition aimed at engaging youngsters in the subject.

The event, Top of the Bench, was hosted once again this year by the School of Chemistry at the University of St Andrews, in collaboration with the Tayside Local Section of the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC). The RSC established this national annual competition more than thirty years ago, with the aim of sparking interest and excitement in chemistry amongst 13 to 16 year olds.

Teams from Forfar Academy, Grove Academy and Kinross High School competed to topple last year’s champions, Madras College. The teams put their knowledge of chemistry to the test and competed for the regional title in the final, which includes identifying samples of elements and a video round. The four teams, consisting of pupils from S2 to S4, had reached the final by battling through three knockout rounds – with 22 other teams from across the Fife, Tayside and Perthshire taking part.

This year’s event was a closely fought affair right up to the final question, with eventual winners, Madras College, narrowly beating Grove Academy by just a single point.

The contest, in which Professor Jim Naismith, from the School of Chemistry in St Andrews, took on the role of Quizmaster, is a successful outreach project for the School of Chemistry, which has coordinated this regional event since its inception.

Douglas Philp, Professor of Chemistry at the University of St Andrews and local coordinator of the competition, said: “Twenty six teams across the region entered the competition this year, some schools for the first time, and the standard throughout the whole competition has been very high. The Final was incredibly exciting and saw Madras College retain the title they won in 2015 by a single point from Grove Academy – the result being decided on the last question. All four teams in the Final coped incredibly well with challenging questions and were a credit to their respective schools. Madras College will now represent Tayside in the National Final, where they will compete against up to 30 other teams from across the United Kingdom.”

The Final results were Madras College 97, Grove Academy 96, Kinross High School 74 and Forfar Academy 52.


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Issued by the University of St Andrews Communications Office, contactable on 01334 462530 or proffice@st-andrews.ac.uk.

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