Scientific fun helps schools end summer term with a bang



Schools across Sheffield and the surrounding regions have ended the summer term with a bang thanks to the educational outreach team at the University of Sheffield’s Department of Chemistry – Sheffield ChemSchools – who have helped bring science to life.

Sheffield ChemSchools Manager and University teacher Dr Julie Hyde worked with Sheffield ChemSchools Coordinators Andrew Ross and Dr Lindsey Hewison alongside Teaching Fellow Will Davey to deliver scientific workshops and lectures to nearly 1,500 pupils from South Yorkshire schools between June and July 2011.

Working with pupils from the ages of nine to 18, the team visited 10 schools and invited seven schools in to the University, to use the Department of Chemistry’s dedicated schools laboratory. The pupils got hands on experience of chemistry, making everything from paracetamol to slime. Younger pupils also got to carry out activities and experiments such as mock-up murder mystery investigations.

The visits to schools were aimed at making science fun and accessible with exciting live demonstrations and interactive workshops. These included a lecture about ice cream making using liquid nitrogen with Andrew Ross, who is the world record holder for the fastest ice cream making. Primary school children had the chance to make polymer slime and learn about temperature and how cold different substances can get.

Sheffield ChemSchools were also involved in large events such as Big Bang organised by Sheffield City College, where groups of children of all ages visited the college to see what was on offer after life in school and college. They were also involved in the Sheffield Food Festival where members of the public were shown how cold liquid nitrogen is.

Andrew Ross, a University of Sheffield graduate, was proud to be involved in the end of term events. He said: “It’s been a really busy month to end a really busy year, packed full of events for children of all ages. I love my job and I think it’s very important that we encourage as many young people as possible to pursue the study of science and scientific careers. It’s so rewarding to see young people’s eyes opened to the possibilities of science and to see how amazed they are with our demonstrations of science in action. We’ve been involved with so many schools over the past two months, it has felt like a science road show! I hope the pupils have enjoyed it as much as we have, and we have managed to inspire a few children.”

Dr Julie Hyde commented: “I am really pleased with the work that the Sheffield ChemSchools Team has continued to do during this last academic year. This last month has been fantastic, we have had events in our dedicated schools laboratory, we have been out to secondary and primary schools and taken part in University Outreach events. I thoroughly enjoy the hands on approach we offer the students. It’s great to be involved with the delivery of these events and see the students so inspired by chemistry. We will be continuing these events in the future so contact ChemSchools for details.”

A Year 5 pupil from Westways Primary School in Sheffield, said: “We all wanted the team to carry on showing us stuff, it was totally awesome!”

Will Davey, School Teacher Fellow at the University and Chemistry teacher at King Edward VII School in Sheffield, said: “I love this work. I never cease to be amazed by how much science these kids already know and, perhaps more importantly, how quickly they can grasp some pretty sophisticated ideas. Their enthusiasm is tremendous and during one session, even though I had over run into their lunchtime, the class begged Andy and me to carry on with the chemistry and volunteered to give up all of their lunchtime.”