Crack chemists prove their salt

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Pupils who took part in a festival of chemistry at the ‘Tech’ have impressed event organisers.

Audrey Strong from the Salters Institute said the Salters Festival of Chemistry at the North West Regional College’s (NWRC) Strand Road campus

set a precedent for similar festival events to take place across Further Education Colleges in Northern Ireland.

“Involving young competitors from a range of secondary schools, the Salters’ Festivals of Chemistry are an initiative of the Salters’ Institute, whose aim is to promote the appreciation of chemistry and related sciences amongst the young,” she said.

“We have been mightily impressed with this College, both in terms of its course provision and learning environment, and also it’s partnerships with stakeholders across the industry,” she added.

“We wish to congratulate all of the young pupils who took part in the events, and hope that their experiences have enabled them to consider a career in this industry for the future,” said Ms Strong.

“We now intend to roll-out this festival across more FE Colleges in Northern Ireland based on the template which has been established by NWRC,” she said.

Event Co-Ordinator, Dr Terry McIvor, Curriculum Manager at NWRC, highlighted the significance of the festival to the College and the region.

“To have hosted the prestigious Salters festival of Chemistry has been a real honour for our College.,” he said.

“It not only has reinforced our position as being one of the top providers of science education in Northern Ireland, but has underpinned this region as one which strives to provide opportunity and incentive for young people who are hoping to forge a career in science and chemistry.,” he added.

“We are extremely grateful for the support we received from our partners who helped us co-ordinate the event, but especially our colleagues in the secondary schools who enabled their pupils to avail of the opportunities that were on offer.

“We also believe the event highlighted the strength of our outreach learning programmes to pupils in secondary education,” said Mr McIvor.

More than 60 pupils from a range of secondary schools across the North West took part in a fun-filled day which saw NWRC being selected as the first ever further education college in the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland to host this celebrated festival of chemistry.

Partnered by W5 and the Royal Society of Chemistry, and sponsored by Randox Technologies, the events began with the Salters Challenge which required the competitors to experiment with various chemical substances and liquids in order to solve a criminal investigation.

A panel of Judges from industry and academia, which included Dr Joanne Stuart, Ms Nadine Cutliffe, Mrs Aideen Johnston, Dr Fergal Tuffy and Dr Danny Laverty, were on hand to marvel at the competence and skills that were displayed.

Indeed, they were particularly impressed with the team-working attributes of all of the pupils.

The NWRC Challenge was the second event and this assessed the pupil’s ability to establish the rate of a chemical reaction.

The winners of the Salters Challenge were as follows: 1st place: Foyle College; 2nd place: Loreto Letterkenny; 3rd place: St Cecilia’s College

The winners of the NWRC Challenge were as follows: 1st place: Omagh Academy; 2nd Place: St Mary’s, Ballymena; 3rd Place: North Coast Integrated College.

The Salters’ Institute plays a major role in the support of chemistry teaching, the encouragement of young people to pursue careers in the UK chemical industries, and the promotion of chemical education including the whole area of curriculum development.

The Salters’ Chemistry Club encourages schools to set up Chemistry Clubs and then to take part in Salters’ Festivals of Chemistry.

During the last fifteen years over 44,200 students have experienced the fun of practical chemistry through the Salters’ Festivals of Chemistry which have been hosted by more than 45 universities in the UK and Ireland.