Nottingham Potential Summer School
16-19 July 2018
Over the past three years, CDT second year students have had an opportunity to participate in the Sustainable Chemistry strand of the week-long Nottingham Potential Summer School, which took place in July 2018. The students developed and delivered a range of activities aimed at A-level students from Nottinghamshire schools. The event aims to, through a broad range of talks, experiments delivered by academics, alumni and industrial partners, outline the diverse opportunities a career in chemistry can offer.
On the first day, the students were introduced to the meaning of the terms ‘sustainable chemistry’ and ‘green chemistry’. This was followed by an introduction to transesterification and students were able to turn cooking oil into biodiesel. They also learnt how to check their end product for contaminants. In one of the sessions, the students produced their own cleaning fluid from recycled plastic cups which they used to clean dirt from tiles.
The second day focused on ways of storing energy in both batteries and fuels. The students learnt about distillation of limonene from orange peel, to demonstrate how useful compounds can be isolated from the waste streams. The biggest challenge of the day was the aluminium-air battery experiment because the students were encouraged to use their newly acquired knowledge, problem-solving skills and team work.
The hosts were pleasantly surprised by the appetite for information and understanding of the theory behind the experiments demonstrated by these young scientists. It was great to see how aware the participants were of sustainability issues, demonstrating real progress in communication of these issues. Overall the sessions were enjoyable, interesting and gave the participants an insight into what they could expect from chemistry at university and beyond.