Skip to main navigationSkip to main content
The University of Southampton

Bringing the excitement of science to young people in developing countries

Published: 5 June 2014
Science and Technology Aid

Visiting Professor in Chemistry Tony Rest is celebrating ten years helping to enthuse schoolgirls and schoolboys in developing countries about science. The initiative has enabled thousands of young people enjoy practical experiments and many go on to careers in science and technology.

"Chemistry and the other science subjects are not popular in developing countries because it's very difficult for pupils to carry out experiments for themselves," he explains. "Chemicals are expensive and difficult to obtain, laboratory equipment is scarce and many schools do not have electricity."

The project started in 2004 when Tony founded Chemistry Aid (now Science and Technology Aid) with the Royal Society of Chemistry and colleagues in Kenya, Uganda and Zambia. The science education programme he launched is now also running in more than a dozen other countries around the world.

Tony and his colleagues came up with many ingenuous ways of bringing Chemistry into the classroom including experiments in plastic bags with cheap local ‘kitchen' chemicals and minerals, solar energy generators and low energy data projectors. A ‘Chemistry Bus' helps volunteers to explain more about the benefits of learning science to teachers, parents and children. A further initiative links science with sport as an enjoyable way for young people to understand how the sciences are important in all aspects of life.

Students in Uganda

"As countries develop, they need to educate young people to become scientists," he adds. "I'm pleased Science and Technology Aid is helping to make a difference."

For Tony, the project developed out of an early interest in developing educational resources at the University of Southampton. His Chemistry Video Consortium first made and distributed films to illustrate important experiments in the 1990s. Tony is grateful to University colleagues including Professor Andrea Russell, for encouraging and supporting the initiative.


Privacy Settings