Chemistry Clinic - June 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. 

Farewell from the 2018-19 Chemistry Clinic Team

And so, we have reached the end of our ten-month placement at the Chemistry Clinic. Collectively, we have learned so much from each of the tasks and projects we have undertaken and owe a lot to Dr. Sharon Ingram, Dr. Brian McMillan and Dr. John Liggat for the endless amount of time and effort they have put into making the Chemistry Clinic a platform for useful learning. While we could go on for pages about everything we have gained during our time here, we best move on to summarising the events that have taken place in our final month…

Stonehouse Primary School: What is a Scientist?

Our outreach work continued right to the end, where we set off to our final school visit in the 2018-19 academic calendar. We visited Stonehouse Primary School, where we posed the question of “What is a Scientist?” to a class of Prrimary 5 pupils. After a number of extravagant answers, including the phrase “a genius”, being thrown around we then moved on to demonstrating some fun lab experiments linked to the theme of ‘Solids, Liquids and Gases’. The Team have loved attending these events, as the weird and wonderful ideas the pupils burst out with and the wide-eyed, marvelling facial expressions make even the most basic of scientific displays exciting!

Research and Development Projects

This month has been busy as we try to finalise work on all our outstanding projects. Peter and Cirsty are now experts in sample analysis using gas chromatography and have moved ship from the Chemistry Clinic HQ to the Mass Spec room for the month. Despite falling victims to some unavoidable errors, they are keen to complete as much of this analysis before the end of the month arrives.

Ben and Jonny have been working away in order to meet the objectives for their commercial cleaning product project before their time is up. They have been testing new formulas for a self-cleaning surface cleaner. As progress has been made over the past few weeks, the boys have chosen to take a more observational approach to their testing, as numbers don’t fully show the self-cleaning functionality that their formulations provide. Along with this, they have had a follow-up meeting with their client to gain a greater insight to what he envisions for the future of his product.

As a group, we have been working alongside Steven, who is on placement for the summer and has been assisting in the development of a new product suitable for use on your pearly whites. We are splitting up the projects aims between the five of us, in order to get as much work done in the short space of time that we have, and we can assure you that all avenues are being explored – from the sea to the farm!

Circular Economy Workshop

This month the Team was faced with a new challenge of presenting to Secondary School pupils about ‘Circular Economy’. Having little background knowledge on this topic, we spent a few days brainstorming ideas which would motivate the pupils to get creative during the Chemistry @ Work event. We compiled ideas and made up scenarios, which we felt would be relatable to the pupils. Some of these included Glastonbury Festival and to think of different ways in which we could help to reduce, reuse and recycle the amount of plastic used at music events. Another scenario, which was well received, involved thinking of different ways we could reuse or recycle the nation’s favourite Irn Bru can.

Dr Alan Kennedy’s Fun Labs Are Back In Town

Having assisted at the Christmas Fun Lab sessions back in December, Cirsty and Ben were well equipped to support Jonny and Peter for their first time demonstrating. For almost 2 weeks the University of Strathclyde opened their laboratory doors to a host of schools, in order to promote science and give the students a glance at life inside a more advanced lab. The usual slime-making, stalagmite-growing and dry-ice-bubbling fun was had. However, some of the school students were returning for their second round of chemical madness and so we tested their abilities a bit more by presenting them with the challenge of preparing vanadyl acetylacetonate - a current experiment incorporated in second year Organic/Inorganic Chemistry lab manual. It was great to see so many young students inspired by science and all in the name of fun!

Chemistry Clinic 2018-19 Retirement Season

That brings us to the end of our placement and the end of our final blog! We would like to wish the best of luck to the Chemistry Clinic of 2019-20 and hope they enjoy their time here as much as we have.



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

Chemistry Clinic Team