Year 12 Trip to Oxford University

A Message from the Students of Year 12

Trip to Oxford University 22nd March 2022.

Last week, 32 Year 12 students were given the amazing opportunity to visit University of Oxford’s new Chemistry teaching labs which are used by the undergraduates studying there. As part of the programme, we synthesised esters (a type of organic molecule) from different reactants to produce unique fruity fragrances, such as orange or strawberry; the resulting fragrance depended on the reactants we used. The experience of getting hands-on with new and advanced equipment as well as using techniques we had only previously learnt about in theory was invaluable. This included using vacuum distillation to separate liquids at lower temperatures. We also applied Infrared (IR) Spectroscopy and Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) Spectroscopy to analyse organic molecules in order to determine the molecular structure and purity of the esters. The expertise and friendly support from all the staff there, including our own Mrs Pons and Dr Xu, truly enhanced the experience.

In addition, we listened to a talk about the work of a PhD student and his research team on supramolecular chemistry in the bilayer of membranes, which could lead to developing treatments for diseases like cystic fibrosis. This gave us a true insight into studying Chemistry at university and the real-life applications of it.

After lunch and a walk across Oxford, we visited St. Hugh’s College and were able to question a tutor about the UCAS application process for Oxbridge, and what college life as a student is like. We then toured the college buildings and grounds, taking in the library, junior common room and formal dining hall before returning to school by coach.

By Amber and Ife