We recently received this review from a pupil who came and took part in a practical we offer, we loved it so much we thought we’d share it with you!
A Level Chemistry students experiment in Swansea University’s labs
Our A Level chemistry class had a recent trip to the new Swansea University Chemistry Labs where we undertook a ‘Two-Step Synthesis’ practical. Year 12 students accompanied us and we worked in pairs to complete this complex procedure.
The aim of the practical was to synthesise 3-nitrobenzenecarboxylic acid, an organic acid, via the nitration of methyl benzenecarboxylate, another organic compound, followed by hydrolysis of the product to obtain the acid. The University’s method as described was outlined as taking 5 hours but to ensure that we completed the procedure in time, we simultaneously did steps of both Part A and Part B, something we wouldn’t have been able to do well without the Year 12 group.
We had to work in fume hoods and wear gloves as we were handling dangerous chemicals such as concentrated Sulfuric and Nitric acids, both of which are extremely corrosive, as well as Methanol which is extremely flammable. It seemed a bit daunting at first but we quickly got used to it, and personally I found it a lot more fun working with something that could have easily gone horribly wrong!
There were long periods of time where we had to wait for products to dry or dissolve and so we spent a lot of time talking to students from the University who were on hand to help us. This was very interesting as the students weren’t much older than ourselves, and talked to us about their courses and Swansea University, as well as other topics like Music.
After making our products, we compared their melting points against the values in data tables to test the purity. This meant we got to use some rather expensive equipment we don’t have access to in school, which was a brilliant experience. Professor Bott commended us as our values were really close to the data tables, indicating our products were very pure, which meant that fortunately our procedure had mostly gone as planned.
As well as the practical, we also received tours of the university’s labs and saw the equipment we may get to use in the future. Overall it was a very worthwhile trip that I wholly recommend to future year groups!
Adan Khan, Year 13
Ffynone House Student- March 2018