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Chemistry for our future

30 June 2009

Science experiment

Hundreds of year 10 pupils from around South Wales will take part in a day-long interactive conference at the University designed to promote chemistry and encourage students to consider careers in science, especially chemistry.

Jointly hosted by the University’s School of Chemistry and the University of Glamorgan, the young people’s chemistry conference – ‘Chemistry is our Future’ - will enable 300 pupils from 15 different schools to try their hand at exciting experiments and witness chemistry in action for themselves.

A series of fun and interactive practicals and demonstrations during the day will also highlight the impact and relevance of chemistry in modern society with accompanying lectures focusing on the use of chemistry in areas such as cosmetics, medical diagnostics and nuclear energy.

The day will culminate with an innovative show – Flash! Bang! Wallop! – designed by Professor Peter Edwards and Peter Hollamby of the School to bring chemistry to life in an entertaining and visual way.

Peter Hollamby, Innovation and Engagement Coordinator at the School said: "Chemistry is one of the key drivers in a future where new technologies and materials will shape our lives. Problems such as pollution, dwindling resources, energy efficiencies and poor health, just to name a few look to skilled chemists to contribute towards the solutions. There is never a better time to consider careers in this important fundamental science.

Flash! Bang! Wallop! in actionFlash! Bang! Wallop! in action

"Besides this, chemistry is a fascinating subject and the emphasis in the Flash! Bang! Wallop! show is to demonstrate the wow factor in chemical reactions. We showcase the more spectacular reactions which involve heat, light, colour and sound and encourage students to think about chemistry as an exciting and enjoyable subject."

Prior to the conference the pupils were challenged to design a poster on the theme of ‘The Impact of Chemistry in the Future’. Each participating school put forward their best posters for an exhibition which will be displayed at the Viriamu Jones Gallery in the University’s Main building throughout the event.

Prizes of £400, £200 and £100 worth of molecular models will be given to the best three posters, with the winning posters selected on their quality of presentation, scientific content, well executed arguments and evidence of research and effort.

In addition students will have to search for answers to a quiz which will be judged at the end of the day and individual winners will be awarded gift vouchers.

The conference takes place on 30 June 2009 and is part of the Chemistry for our Future national initiative promoted by the Royal Society of Chemistry. The initiative aims to help ensure that there is a sustainable chemical science base within higher education which will attract able students from all backgrounds and provide chemical science courses appropriate for students and employers in the 21st Century.

The School of Chemistry is actively involved in outreach activities and the promotion of the subject. As well as developing a number of training and teaching resources for schools and undergraduates, their inventive stage shows Flash! Bang! Wallop! and the A-level project, Uncovering Chemistry Secrets aim to support students and make chemistry less mystifying and more interesting.

The School has recently been awarded funding from the Higher Education Council for Wales to enhance its outreach programme. As a result the Flash! Bang! Wallop! show will be touring South and Mid Wales later this year.

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