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Science Success

Chemists from St John’s lost no time in getting back to work at the start of the Spring Term when they entered the regional heats in the prestigious “Top of the Bench” competition run by the Royal Society of Chemistry. The venue this year was the Sir William Perkins’s School in Chertsey. 

Taking part for the second year running were George Fish (Upper Fifth, North House) and Ben Somner-Bogard (Lower Fifth, Surrey House). They were complemented by two pupils in the youngest year group of the School, Saskia Hawkins (Hazelwood House) and Alexander Taylor (North House), both thrilled with the subject having completed just one term of Chemistry at St John’s. 

There are two parts to the competition. In the first part, each participant attempts a practical task and then answers related questions. While George handled the burettes and carried out various redox-titration reactions, Ben investigated rates of reaction with some sodium thiosulfate and acid. Meanwhile, Saskia and Alex became engrossed in studying a variety of exothermic and endothermic reactions. In the second part of the competition, participants sit a multiple-choice paper and then await the results.

With 10 teams in their heat (heat three of four) alone and a high score of 128 to beat from Ardingly College in heat two, the pressure to perform could not have been greater. St John’s finished second in the heat with 125 points, just overtaken by Charterhouse (127 points), winners of last year’s regional competition. Each entrant was rewarded with a certificate and a £10 Amazon voucher for their efforts.

All the pupils who took part found the activities very stimulating. Dr Leonard, accompanying the team, heaped special praise on George Fish, who achieved the top score of all the competitors on the demanding practical section. The “Top of the Bench Competition” has now become a regular annual event for the Chemistry Department, who will no doubt enter another team next year.

Published on 21/01/2015

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