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School of Biological and Chemical Sciences

Chemistry activities

Chemistry staff run a variety of engaging masterclasses and workshops, both at the Mile End campus where the Department of Chemistry is located and in schools across London and the south east.

Below is a list of chemistry outreach activities that target students of various ages.

Chemistry Residential Summer School,  3 days held in July, Y12

The Chemistry Residential Summer School at Queen Mary University of London is a three-day program for Year 12 students from Schools based in the UK who have chosen to study chemistry (A level or IB) and are interested in pursuing a degree in Chemical Sciences.

Attending this school will give participants the opportunity to experience a Russell Group university and gain a real insight into studying chemistry at a research-intensive institution. The three-day residential school will involve workshops, lectures, and laboratory sessions in our new £5.5 million world class teaching laboratory. Internationally leading scientists will contribute to the delivery of the different activities and will also offer multiple opportunities to discuss career options and degree choices.

Spectroscopy in a suitcase workshops

We are a provider of the Royal Society of Chemistry Spectroscopy in a Suitcase program. These are interactive workshops covering the theory as well as the hands on applications of IR, NMR and MS. More information is available here. 

RSC Schools' Analyst Competition, South East Regional Heat, 1-day, Y12-teams of 3 students

School and colleges in the East Anglia Region can send one team of three of Year 12 students to take part in this analytical chemistry-based competition. It is normally held in February each year and lasts one day. Each member of the top three teams receives prizes and the winning team may be selected to attend the National Final held in June each year at a university in the UK. Further information is available from the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC).

Students in the lab

Spectroscopy Masterclasses, ½-day; Y12/Y13; 3-4 events per yearSpectroscopy equipment

Always popular, this session includes a 2-hour theory class, with problem-solving followed by an opportunity to view demonstrations of FTIR (students get hands-on experience to run liquid and solid samples), NMR and GC-MS instrumentation. This class is intended to support and aid an understanding of spectroscopy that forms a part of the AS/A2 chemistry syllabus.  Schools can also borrow the 'Spectroscopy in a Suitcase' kit from the RSC which can be used at the school.

Salters’ Festival of Chemistry, 1-day, Y7/8-teams of 4 students

Each year, around Easter, we host the ever-popular Salters’ Institute Chemistry Festival. Teams of four Y7/8 students compete in a number of chemical exercises for prizes and the day concludes with an exciting and explosive demonstration lecture.

Pupils at the Salters Festival of Chemistry

Chemistry Is Kool – lecture/demonstration, all ages, ~1 hr

This very popular practical and fun talk is aimed for students of all ages (5-18 years) but may be adapted for a non-scientific audience of any age, such as a youth club or society. This session aims to demonstrate the fun and relevance of chemistry in the modern world through a series of bright, loud and often smelly demonstrations using everyday objects and chemicals! The lecture/demonstration can be part of a ½ day visit to QMUL that includes a Campus Tour and a visit to the Department, or can be taken to the school/college.

Other topics on which we can supply speakers include:

  • Why study chemistry?
  • Careers in chemistry/science

For more information please email us on sbcs-admissions@qmul.ac.uk

Staff profiles

Dr Tippu Sheriff

Man carrying conical flasks

I am a Senior Lecturer in Chemistry and Director of outreach and public engagement for chemistry at Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) having previously completed a BSc, PhD and post-doctoral studies in chemistry at Imperial College London, and subsequently taught at the University of Hertfordshire. It was there that I first became involved in the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) Chemistry At Work exhibitions developing demonstrations around the title The Tail of the Beetle and Poisoned Blood.

Chemistry is a truly amazing and fascinating subject that is fundamental to understanding the workings of the natural world and it underpins biology, medicine, materials science, the environment and a host of other areas. I am passionate about chemistry and in coordinating and carrying out outreach activities for the Department of Chemistry at QMUL. I derive enormous pleasure from the wow factor that students get from doing fun experiments using liquid nitrogen and cardice (solid carbon dioxide) and demonstrating the explosive chemistry associated with the defence mechanism of the bombardier beetle and I have developed new themes for these lecture/demonstrations including The Air We Breathe and Chemistry is Kool, which are delivered both at QMUL and in schools.

I participate in a range of other outreach activities for the Department and the college including the Salters’ Festival of Chemistry, the RSC’s Schools’ Analyst Competition, the Festival of Communities and spectroscopy masterclasses where students can see practical infra-red and NMR demonstrated. I am a STEM ambassador and I give research talks in the area of dioxygen (O2) – its discovery by Joseph Priestley, origin and properties, the activation of O2 and its reduction for the in situ generation of hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), and applications in the areas of bleaching, disinfection and selective oxidation.

I also give career talks especially for students who are not sure of their future career plans (and not many are at 18 years!). Chemistry is a good choice because it offers such a wide range of career options – and even allows for a career switch to for example the financial sector e.g. accountancy because in doing a degree in chemistry students are taught a range of soft skills including being numerate, thinking analytically, problem solving, ability to communicate well (both written and oral), and being dexterous through the large number of laboratories undertaken and, perhaps uniquely to chemistry at QMUL, a course in programming and the option of doing a module of computational chemistry in the 3rd year.

I have 12 years of experience in delivering outreach and public engagement events to young people and I am incredibly passionate about promoting science, chemistry and higher education to the general public. Since joining QMUL in January 2017, I have helped to organize several events including the Salters Festival of Chemistry, Laboratory Taster Days and Y12 conferences. I am also the organiser of the Chemistry Residential Summer School. I participate in the annual Festival of Communities event, where alongside Dr Tippu Sheriff and Dr Giorgio Chianello we provide young people and adults from the local community an opportunity to do some hands-on chemistry. Furthermore, I am a STEM ambassador and am very happy to work with schools/science clubs on science projects. Finally, I can provide talks to schools and colleges on a number of topics including; The story of Taxol; Studying Chemistry at University, Career opportunities for Chemistry Graduates as well as more research focused talks based on the projects currently under investigation in my laboratory. For more information about these or any of the above please do not hesitate to get in touch.

Dr Giorgio Chianello

Giorgio Chianello

I am a lecturer in Pharmaceutical and Medicinal Chemistry with over 9 years of experience in delivering outreach and public engagement events. I am very passionate about science dissemination and widening participation at any level (schools, professionals, university, the general public etc.). Since joining QMUL in 2012, initially as a PhD student, I have helped to organise and lead numerous activities including Spectroscopy in a Suitcase (hands on IR and NMR workshops for sixth form students), Laboratory Taster Days (held at QMUL) both sponsored by the Royal Society of chemistry, the International and Residential Chemistry Summer schools, the Salters Festival of Chemistry, the Festival of communities (providing young people and adults from the local community an opportunity to perform some hands on chemistry). Furthermore, I can deliver talks to schools and colleges on various topics including Nanotechnology, Studying Chemistry at University, Careers in Chemistry, Spectroscopy, Pharmaceutical Chemistry and many more. Although my scientific background is based on nanotechnology and drug delivery, I am also involved in educational research focusing on new teaching technologies and enhancement on inclusion and diversity within the scientific community. Please do not hesitate to contact me should you be curious to know more about all of the above.