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The University of Southampton

Science at Twilight

Published: 17 February 2012

Hundreds of A level students from schools and colleges across Dorset and Hampshire have been learning about Chemistry at university through special Twilight sessions in the laboratory.

Under careful supervision, groups of pupils have been extracting organic material from the common spice nutmeg, purifying it, and finally carrying out an analysis to see how successful they have been.

School Teacher Fellow Dr David Read says many of the teenagers attending the sessions go on to study Chemistry at university. "This is an opportunity for them to see what is involved in degree-level science; they can use equipment that's often not available to them at schools and colleges," he says. "We also have up to eight postgraduate demonstrators assisting with the experiments who talk to the pupils about what it's like to be a student here."

Lower sixth pupils at Talbot Heath School in Bournemouth took part in one of the evenings and wrote an enthusiastic account of their visit on the school's webpage. They conclude: "Overall the experiment proved extremely relevant to the subjects we are studying in AS Chemistry. The techniques used presented a challenge which everyone enjoyed, and we all returned to Talbot Heath feeling that we had a better idea of whether we might wish to continue studying chemistry once we leave school."
 At present 17 schools are involved in the initiative; six evenings of Twilight sessions are scheduled through the year but there are plans to extend the programme so more teenagers can take part.

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