Last Monday a group of Science students were lucky enough to visit the University of Oxford’s Chemistry Department and have a sneak peek at what it is like to study at one of the most prestigious educational institutes in the world.
Here first year IB student, Rosemary Lane, tells us about the experience:
‘As a student of Chemistry who only really found her skill in it this year, the trip to the Chemistry Department of Oxford was fascinating for a plethora of reasons. After a brisk walk, we arrived at the Department with our chaperone, Nick Moulder, Physics and Chemistry extraordinaire. We first went to a world-class lab where we, along with another group of A-Level students from another school, got to work on a practical to make an ester. We got to learn about the practicality of NMR and IR machines and interpreting the information to see what compound we had made. The environment in the lab was jovial and you could really sense the cohesion that exists between those who inhabit that space regularly. Everyone I spoke with was open to banter while being considerate to our lower skill level and explaining concepts with passion. It was the kind of environment you could have fun in while pursuing a fascinating line of research.
After a quick-lunch, where I took advantage of the close proximity to the Natural History Museum, we went across the street of the lab, to another building where we observed various kinds of technology designed for chemical problem solving. Here the atmosphere was more direct and instructive, compared to getting a feel for the lab environment at Oxford. We learned about NMR spectrometry, x-ray crystallography, and mass spectrometry. I found this part to be particularly stimulating as we learnt all the applications of this technology in the field of medicine and biochemistry as well. At this point in the day many of us were exhausted from our laboratory shenanigans and being kept on our feet and our minds on call that we might’ve fallen asleep at the first sign of a place to rest our chins, but observing their machinery was enough to stimulate us who are intrigued by the inner workings of the mysterious and magical processes within science.
In short I felt the trip was informative, inspiring and fun. The continued standing and onslaught of new chemistry material left us physically and mentally tired by the end of the day but it was well worth it as we got to visit a world-class lab and learn about the processes and applications of the technology in place that has substantial meaning to the development of humanity.’