Home > Media > Winning formula for Top of the Bench young scientists

Sixty young scientists from across the region were invited to the Top of the Bench Science Investigation Day, at Briar Chemicals, where they were tasked with chemistry conundrums around the theme of the Olympics.

The main aim of the event, which has been hosted at Briar Chemicals for over 15 years, was to challenge budding young scientists to undertake experiments they had not witnessed before, and draw clear conclusions from their results.

Briar Chemicals hosts Top of the Bench chemistry competition from Sprowston Community High School
Winners of the Top of the Bench  competition – Sprowston High School

A team of Harrison Death, Year 11, Michael Walker, Year 10, Elita Tmava, Year 9, and Charlotte Smith, Year 9 from Sprowston Community High School were victorious at the Top of the Bench East Anglian heats and will go on to compete in the national finals next year.

Headteacher Andrew John said:

I am absolutely delighted with the success of our students being the regional winners in the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Top of the Bench Competition. We have one of the best science faculties in the county, and I am so proud of their latest achievement. A superb team effort.

Dr Sean Thurston, an education coordinator of the East Anglia section of the Royal Society of Chemistry, said: “The Top of the Bench regional heats were a fantastic event that brought together schools from across the region to compete in a range of chemical challenges. It’s been a while since East Anglia had a national winner… so fingers crossed for this year!”

The winning team of four from Sprowston Community High School will go on to compete in London at Easter 2017, and the pupils are very much looking forward to the challenge. 15 schools took part in the event, with Bury St Edmunds County Upper in second place and Gresham’s School in third.

Briar Chemicals hosts Top of the Bench chemistry competition from Bury County Upper
Bury County Upper celebrating 2nd place

Tim Green, site manager at Briar Chemicals, said: “It’s a pleasure for us to host this event again this year. It’s a great way to challenge these young chemistry students and the tasks are not easy. It’s always an interesting morning which often throws up surprises.”

Whilst the panel of judges marked the experiments, the young scientists were given a tour of the Briar Chemicals site so they could see the chemistry working on an industrial scale.

Briar Chemicals hosts Top of the Bench chemistry competition from Greshams School
3rd place team from Gresham School

The national Top of the Bench competition is for 14 –16 year old students studying chemistry. Royal Society of Chemistry Local Sections run heats during the autumn term to select a team to represent the section in the UK final the following year.

The Royal Society of Chemistry organise the finals to take place in the following spring which includes a short test of factual chemical knowledge and a practical chemical problem solving team exercise.

First prize is awarded to the best overall school performance, with five teams receiving runners up prizes. The Jacqui Clee Award is given to the student who has demonstrated an outstanding individual contribution to the day.

To find out more and apply to take part please contact your nearest Local Section Secretary.