Aspiring chemists gathered in St Andrews recently to take part in the regional final of a national competition aimed at engaging youngsters in the subject.
The gathering was the culmination of an annual event organised by the School of Chemistry at the University of St Andrews, in collaboration with the Tayside Local Section of the Royal Society of Chemistry.
The contest, Top of the Bench, was established by the RSC more than twenty years ago, with the aim of sparking interest and excitement in chemistry amongst 13 to 16 year olds across the UK.
Teams from Madras College, Perth Academy, Grove Academy and Breadalbane Academy from Aberfeldy put their chemical knowledge to the test and competed for the regional title.
After a hotly contested event, Breadalbane Academy emerged victorious, earning the school a place in the UK-wide final.
The four teams, consisting of pupils from S2 to S4, reached the final by battling through three knockout rounds – eliminating nineteen other teams from across the Fife, Tayside and Perthshire regions (including last year’s winners, Webster’s High School) along the way.
The quiz included identifying 12 samples of chemical elements and a video round. The competition was keenly contested throughout and Breadalbane Academy eventually triumphed with 177 points. Madras College came second with 171 points, while Grove Academy (137 points) and Perth Academy (134 points) finished third and fourth.
As regional winners, Breadalbane Academy will go forward to the national final held in April at Loughborough University, where they will compete against more than 30 other teams from across the UK.
The contest, in which Professor Derek Woollins, Head of the School of Chemistry in St Andrews, took on the role of Quizmaster, is a successful outreach project for the School of Chemistry, having coordinated the regional event since its inception.
Professor Douglas Philp organised this year’s competition with help from Chemistry colleagues Drs Sharon Ashbrook and Iain Smellie.
Speaking after the final, Professor Philp said, “Twenty-three teams entered the competition this year and the standard was exceptionally high. The final was no exception and all four teams performed strongly. Having come through to win with a late run in the final round, we are sure that Breadalbane Academy will be excellent representatives for the Tayside region at the national final.”
Note to Picture Editors
PHOTO CAPTION: The winning team from Breadalbane Academy: Ava Broughton-Stuart, Alisdair Soppitt, Patrick Pelc and Lewis McCallum, with their teacher Graham Armstrong and quizmaster, Professor Derek Woollins.
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Ref: Top of the Bench 130213