RSC Top of the Bench Competition

Back in November, Pate’s was invited to enter the preliminary round of the annual Royal Society of Chemistry ‘Top of the Bench’ competition. With just one week to organise the teams, and following some arm twisting and bribery, we ended up with two teams of enthusiastic students willing to give up a Saturday for their love of chemistry.

Team 1:  Josh (Yr 9), Parth (Yr 9), Maria (Yr 10) and Janya (Yr 11.
Team 2: Vaanya (Yr 9), Daisy (Yr 9), Tanish (Yr 10) and Aleksei (Yr 11).

The competition was held on 18 November at the new Collaborative Teaching Laboratory at Birmingham University. This involved nine rounds of challenging chemistry questions, completed in pairs, followed by a final ‘team’ round. Both teams performed admirably – especially given the lack of any preparation – placing well within the top half of the scoreboard. Sadly, only one team from each school was allowed to progress – and it was Team 2 who came out on top (5th out of 25 teams).

The second round of the competition (the Regional Finals) was held at Birmingham University on the 13th January. This time, the competition involved a practical investigation in the undergraduate teaching labs as well as the written rounds. The four Pate’s students worked brilliantly together, and several teachers from other schools commented on their focus and efficiency in the lab. In fact, the Pate’s team were so fast that they finished early – meaning that Mr Day and I were first in the lunch queue and got out pick of the vol-au-vents and sandwiches. A very successful result indeed!

After lunch, and with the scores tallied, all 30 teams headed to the Haworth Lecture Theatre to hear the results. Surrounded by more experienced entries, we were hoping for a top half finish – so imagine our surprise when the team was called up for a 3rd place podium finish! A fantastic result, and a reflection of the hard work, enthusiasm and teamworking skills demonstrated by each student.

Huge thanks to all eight students, Dr Mark Read (who organised the competitions), the RSC, Mr Day, and Felicity Harrison (who organised both trips at extremely short notice). We can’t wait for next year!

Dr Nickson
Head of Science