Chemistry Clinic - Winter 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. 

December has been a busy time at the Chemistry Clinic with commercial development projects, business meetings, reviewing research papers and school engagement activities.

Student Outreach

During our placement year, we are involved in a number of outreach activities both in and out of the Department of Pure and Applied Chemistry. Alongside STEM Ambassador training, we endeavour to promote science and inspire young people. It’s a great opportunity to share our enthusiasm for Chemistry and bring to life how Chemistry can be involved in learning, life and job opportunities. Since the start of the academic year, we have travelled to Bishopbriggs, Dumfries and Glasgow Science Centre, alongside supporting Departmental based events.

We attended Turnbull High School’s STEM day. We constructed a forensic crime scene workshop for the pupils who were then shown how to electrostatically lift a footprint, carry out a ‘presumptive test’ for blood and capture their own fingerprints. This gave us the opportunity to speak with the pupils about science and enhance their interest in STEM-based subjects.

We brought to life the ‘Theft on the USS Alba’ workshop at Glasgow Science Centre for STEM Glasgow’s annual STEMfest event. School pupils who attended the workshop worked in groups to solve the ‘crime’, examining a mysterious powder, identifying the type of blood and lifting fingerprints left behind at the scene. With teamwork from the pupils, they managed to determine who the thief was.
We travelled to Dumfries for St Joseph’s College STEM day event. The event was set up as a ‘speed-dating’ networking event, where small groups of senior school pupils rotated around stations and asked us and the other attendees questions for five minutes each. The students were very engaged and asked lots of questions, such as what we do in the Chemistry Clinic a daily basis and they were all interested to discover more about life as a student at the University of Strathclyde.

Dr Alan Kennedy hosts Fun Lab sessions in the Department of Pure & Applied Chemistry for high school pupils and they are designed so that the pupils attending the sessions have fun with chemistry through colour changes, stalagmites and slime! We had the opportunity to act as demonstrators, assisting the pupils and giving them advice. Overall, it was a great experience for us and the pupils.

We have been working hard on the Advanced Higher Chemistry Projects and we now have a robust method for generating carbon quantum dots. There is just some fine-tuning required now before the big reveal at the West of Scotland Meeting for Teachers of Chemistry in January 2020. We have continued to improve the synthesis of copper nanoparticles, the seaweed works! We can’t wait to show the teachers how simple yet effective this is and we hope the pupils who complete this experiment at school will enjoy it!

Commercial Projects

As well as our outreach activities this semester, we have been collaborating on a variety of commercially-linked projects. These include developing a cleaner and formulating a coating that can safely be applied to a variety of surfaces to keep commercial locations hygienic. We are also making great progress in our partnership with an inventor. We have been able to evaluate changes in his product and make recommendations to optimise the patented concept. All these projects have been done in parallel with reviewing published research. Exploring existing research not only helps guide these commercial projects but enhances our technical and report writing skills as growing scientists.

Alumni Event

In February 2020 we are hosting an event for undergraduate chemistry students – this will relay first-hand experiences of undergrad life and postgraduate opportunities to our students. We are looking for speakers at different stages of their careers in chemistry. If you are interested in being a speaker, please do contact us.

The event will highlight how the first few years at University unravel as well as placement experiences and final year projects. There will also be short talks sharing experiences about jobs in industry after graduation and what a Chemistry PhD student does day to day. Come along. All are welcome and there will be free food too!

Merry Christmas to all – we will be back in touch in 2020!

Chemistry Clinic Team, 2019

Written by

Jack Peggie, Lucy Tappin, Hayley Ryan and Zoe McKinnon

A bubbling mess created during a Fun Lab.

A bubbling mess created during a Fun Lab.

Chemistry Clinic Team 2019 at St Josephs College

Chemistry Clinic Team at St Joseph's College.