Twilight test for science students as they take part in university chemistry session

A level chemistry students at Richard Taunton Sixth Form College got a taste of what life would be like as an undergraduate when they were invited to take part in Southampton University’s Twilight Chemistry session.

Fifteen students from the Hill Lane college in Southampton were given a glimpse of what studying would entail at the university when they put their science skills to the test.

Students from the university were on hand to help them with the experiments, including extracting the natural chemical trimyristin from nutmeg, purifying it and analysing it using specialised equipment and answer questions about life on campus.

Richard Taunton chemistry teacher Rachel Powell said the evening was aimed at pupils who may want to go on to university to study chemistry. “It gave them really good hands-on experience of what it’s like to study there and was a chance for them to work in a university lab with some more specialised equipment,” she said.

“They were doing the sort of practical experiments they would be doing at university and it ties in very usefully with the second year of the A level course where they are doing some work on their own.”

She said the window on student life will have been a first for some of the pupils. “A lot of our students will be the first generation in their family to go to university so to have the chance to talk to students informally about life there was really useful,” she said.

“As they begin their second year here they will be working on their personal statements and UCAS applications so it’s a key time for them to start getting a clear idea of what they want to do next.”

She said she was proud of the application the students showed during the evening. “I think they got a lot out of it and they certainly did us proud,” she said. “They followed instructions carefully and showed a keen interest in what they were doing so they were a credit to the college.”

As well as spending time working in the Chemistry laboratory,  students were offered a tour of the Chemical Engineering laboratory, so it really broadened their awareness of the different courses available to them after they complete their Chemistry A level.