Pupils score high at University of Oxford Chemistry competition

January 30, 2024


Earlier this term four of our young scientists visited the University of Oxford to take part in an inter-schools competition run by the Royal Society of Chemistry. Here, one of the team members shares her experiences from a day of experiments, career insights and competitive Chemistry.


The Royal Society of Chemistry’s Top of the Bench competition was a whole new experience. The Bradfield team of four Shell pupils were all wowed, and a little intimidated, by the sight of Oxford and its historic College buildings. The Department of Chemistry was bursting with similar groups from different schools all eager to find out what was next. Each school was given an element as their team name – we were team ‘Neon’!

There were a series of lab challenges, the first to separate and guess the substances mixed together, the second to do a series of ion tests and the third to dilute different concentrations of an unknown compound into sulphuric acid before drawing a graph on their concentration to absorption.

We had to think on our feet as a few concepts were on topics we had not yet covered in class, but as a team we applied what we did know as best as we could with a little help here and there. Keeping an eye on us, in case we blew up the place, were post-graduates who were on hand to give us pointers during the challenges. We all learnt many different techniques and were introduced to new types of equipment that helped with more accurate and precise results and the experience of being surrounded by all these substances and equipment was incredible.

After listening to a speaker who provided insights into lots of potential science career options, the winners were announced and we were all very pleased and surprised to come away with third place!

Flo (J)