A-level students visit for Analytics Day

Posted on: 12 April 2023 by Jill Madine in April 2023 posts

A female A-Level pupil from Range High carrying out an experiment

Earlier this year seven Chemistry A-Level students from Range High School visited the Institute for their annual Analytics Day.

The visit was an annual event for several years but this was the first time it had taken place since 2019 due to COVID restrictions. The aim was for the students to gain enhanced understanding of NMR to help with their A-level courses and also provide an opportunity to chat with PhD students about what is involved in University life and academic research.

The event was held in the High Field NMR Shared Research Facility and was organised by Dr Jill Madine and Dr Marie Phelan. PhD student Lucy Gill assisted on the day providing NMR expertise and career advice to the students.

Dr Marie Phelan explained how we use NMR for research into the toxicology effects of new drug treatments and regularly analyse samples with high resolution NMR to identify the effects on proteins. Students were able to see how these techniques apply to medicine, veterinary science and pharmacy.

This was followed by practical workshops where the students carried out chromatography and learnt to prepare and run NMR samples along with how to interpret the data.

As part of a school practical prior to their visit, the students had made salicylic acid – a precursor for aspirin. We obtained these samples and collected NMR spectra of their products ready for analysis on the day. This enabled them to establish how successful their synthesis had been and compare their results across the class and to the teacher! This year they discovered that heating is an essential step in the separation and purification as the group with a broken Bunsen Burner had the highest level of impurity. Feedback from the pupils at the end of the day was that seeing NMR ‘in action’ made the complicated theory they had previously been taught in school finally make sense!

Students in the NMR facility