Outreach for schools

Sixth Form Activities

As part of our commitment to encouraging students to pursue chemistry, the Chemistry Department at  Sussex run a number of Chemistry Experience Days each year in June. These events have been very popular with over 300 students participating a year for many years now. The work is informative but fun, with the opportunity for students to perform undergraduate level experiments and see spectroscopic methods of characterizing compounds in action.

For the School Experience Day, we would like to target AS students that have not yet decided whether to continue to A2 Chemistry. Availability is limited to 50 students per session for health and safety but we encourage small numbers from two or three schools per session for the chance for students to mix and exchange experiences.

RSC Spectroscopy in a Suitcase

We host the RSC Spectroscopy in a Suitcase which provides schools and colleges with the opportunity to run infrared spectroscopy in the classroom. The IR kit can be used within an activity delivered by members of the Chemistry department or be taken on loan for upto a week with instruction. The activity is forensic in nature with the aim of introducing students to chemical identification and structure elucidation through the analysis of IR spectra of a number of unknown samples that they acquire themselves as well as sample mass spectra. For more information see the RSC SpectraSchool and the SIAS can be booked at SIASBooking.

The Chemistry Experience Day

In organic chemistry a number of preparative procedures are quite general. Although they are taught with a single example at 'A' level, the procedures apply to a range of compounds. The aim of these practicals is to show that these procedures are general and to show how spectroscopy can be used to identify both common structural features in a compound, for example the presence of a functional group and secondly specific structural features that provide the fingerprint of a particular compound, for example how isomers can be distinguished and identified. The experiment we currently use that encompasses many aspect of chemistry including preparative methods, reaction mechanism and the relationship between physical properties structure is the

Geometrical Isomerisation of Dimethyl Maleate

A short example script is provided on request and prior to arrival. Once the samples have been prepared, they are crystallized, the students acquire their infrared spectral data and determine the melting point. They also have the opportunity to visit the mass spectrometry and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy centres where data on their compounds will be provided.

At the end of the day students should be able to determine the typical structural formulae of the compounds that they have prepared. They should know how to carry out simple organic chemistry operations, recrystallization and melting points. They should appreciate the value of mass spectrometry, nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy and infrared spectroscopy in structure-determination.

A practical script including a hazard assessment is provided for the experiments. The timetable for a typical day is as follows:

9.45 - 10.00 am           Arrival Chichester I foyer

10.00 - 10.20 am         Introduction and Safety Talk

10.20 - 12.30 pm         Laboratory work (coffee break 11.20)

12.39 - 1.30 pm           Lunch (opportunity to see the campus)

1.30 - 3.15 pm             Groups run melting points, IR, Mass Spec & NMR

3.15 – 3.45 pm            Talk on Degrees and Careers

3.45 – 4.00 pm            Departure  

Since laboratory work is involved students should bring a laboratory coat and safety glasses where possible and must be accompanied by at least one member of staff. The students will be covered by our insurance (as they are coming onto the University premises at our invitation). Attending students and teachers are requested to bring a pack lunch and refreshment or money to buy lunch and drinks on campus.

Salters' Chemisry Camp













Salters' Chemistry Camp at Sussex 2012. The Landolt Clock Reaction with an accumulative timing error of only 3 seconds around the clock! A testament to the accuracy to which the students prepared their concentrations of potassium iodate and sodium metabisulfite solutions. 

The Salter's Institute have run Chemistry Camps at the University Sussex for many years. The camp ran for a week with a hundred budding chemists from schools all over the UK selected to participate in two residential camps in the first and second halves of the week. We are now planning to run the Salters' Festival, a day long event starting in the Summer 2017

Contact the Salter's Institute for more information

The Salters’ Chemistry Camps at the University of Sussex are sponsored by the Salters’ Institute; the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI); the Institute of Chemical Engineers (IChemE); the Royal Society; the Royal Society of Chemistry; and the University of Sussex.


For further details please contact:

Dr Mark Osborne

Department of Chemistry
School of Life Sciences
University of Sussex
Falmer, Brighton, BN1 9QJ

T: 01273 678328