Chemistry Clinic - February 2019

The Chemistry Clinic is a student led consultancy in the University of Strathclyde. Working with entrepreneurs with brand new ideas right through to supporting school students, they deal with a wide range of enquiries. 

This placement opportunity during their Chemistry degree gives students the chance to implement the knowledge they have gathered so far during their three years of studying and fine-tune their practical laboratory skills. They also have the chance to grow on a personal basis in various forms of communication and organisation skills that are tested throughout the year. The team also partake in various school events and tasks both within the University of Strathclyde and around the country - as STEM Ambassadors - to further the development of the scientific world. 

The Do’s And Dough-Nots of Life As A Chemistry Undergraduate

Though February may be the shortest month on the calendar, the team have been kept on their toes with the various projects and school’s outreach events they are involved in. With no day having been the same, read on to find out about this month’s antics…

The first event of the month set the tone for what was to follow. The Annual Chemistry Department Alumni Event is an opportunity to hear from various students on their personal experiences at university. The five speakers this year formed a step-by-step guide, in steady progression, from undergraduate to career based advice, following the running order of: Ben Clark leading the 4th year in-house placement talk; Neil Judge a final year student with advice on foreign placements; Fiona Barclay a final year student on the ACCE stream showing the importance of work experience; Grant Cameron a 2nd year PhD student on what to take into account when considering a PhD and finally Victoria Henderson of CHASE as an alternative to the industrial chemistry career path. It was an excellent afternoon and we hope that the students found the presentations beneficial to shaping the decisions they have to make in the coming months and years. 

Advanced Higher Project Analysis

We have had a host of school students visiting the university to carryout analysis on their project samples. Though this is primarily an opportunity for them to use advanced techniques for discussion in their project reports, it also gives them a chance to get a tour of the university and give them a head start on grasping some of the complex analytical techniques used at university level. They also have the chance to ask some more “real-life” questions on course content, work/life balance and what is generally expected of them post-secondary education.

Glasgow Science Centre: The Chemistry of Colour

This month we had a throwback to our childhood with a visit to Glasgow’s beloved science centre for their Chemistry of Colour event aimed at Advanced Higher pupils. The students and demonstrators appeared to be on the same wavelength when it came to the enjoyment of the experiments. The event looked at the synthesis and characterisation of common dyes that are used within the industrial sector. This was yet another opportunity to showcase the University of Strathclyde’s facilities and provide help with Advanced Higher analysis. Peter of the Chemistry Clinic provided a presentation to all pupils in attendance, which gave them and idea of what life in university may hold for them in future. The presentation was proved to be a successful one with many students showing interest in the chemistry courses available at the University of Strathclyde.

World of Work STEM Event

Our travels took us to Wishaw at the end of the month, where we gave a presentation on the World of Science to Primary 5 and 6 classes at Calderbridge Primary School. Following the presentation, we demonstrated five reactions with the help of some trusty volunteers in the class. The aim of the practical segment was to introduce the students to the idea of solids, liquids and gases and the concept of surface tension. It was an enjoyable and interactive session where the pupils were able to get involved and give their thoughts on the various reactions that were taking place. We were very encouraged by the response we received and the interest the pupils showed in science.

Research and Development Projects

As our gel and wax projects draw to an end, the quadruplet of chemists are focussed on collating all their findings to produce a final report for their respective clients. The progress made over the past few months has helped build a solid foundation in analytical techniques and we look on to building on this with the new project opportunities that are on the horizon. The laboratory work has not come to a halt there though, as Peter and Cirsty have teamed together for another commercial project – involving the analysis of wood samples under simulated weather conditions.

What’s Next? 

March is set to be a research and development project-based month after the STEM events boom of February. We will be looking to conclude work on our 2018 projects and present final reports to our clients - summarising our findings. With this, March should see the dawn of some new projects and a final surge of the Advanced Higher project sample analysis leading us up to the Easter break.


Written by Ben Clark, Jonny Clark, Cirsty Gillies & Peter MacDonald

Chemistry Clinic Team