Four pupils from Year 8 in St Catherine’s were lucky enough to attend the Annual Salters Institute Festival of Chemistry at University College London on the 19th April.

Twenty five schools, in all, from across London were taking part in the Festival. The pupils from the different schools were shown to the laboratory where they would carry out their work. Their task was to solve “The Mystery of the Missing Centenary Trophy”. The pupils had nearly two hours to test samples of different white powders that were found on the shoes of the suspects and match them against the white powder that had been found near the scene of the crime. They put on their lab coats and safety specs and quickly got down to work. To their credit the St Catherine’s pupils put in a very good performance and learned a lot of Chemistry through their efforts.

In the afternoon it was time for the University Challenge. The different school teams had to create a “chemical clock” by reacting different concentrations of Sodium Thiosulphate and Hydrochloric Acid. Their aim was to create a chemical clock which would cause a colour change to occur exactly 60 seconds after the chemicals were mixed. Through careful dilution of the chemicals, the St Catherine’s pupils managed to get the colour change to occur at 59 seconds. This was an excellent achievement and meant that they came joint 4th in this Challenge.

After this the pupils were invited to attend a “Chemical Magic Demonstration” by Professor Andrea Sella at the Lecture Hall. It was a fun lecture on gases. He did many amazing things including using solid Carbon Dioxide and body heat to inflate flat balloons. The Professor finished by making instant ice cream using Liquid Nitrogen gas to freeze the cream which he then shared with the audience. Needless to say, this was an instant and delicious hit with the pupils and their teachers.

The pupils were then presented with certificates for their excellent efforts and given a few small mementoes to take home.On the train home pupils agreed with me that it had been a very enjoyable and worthwhile day out.
Mr Blake