Millais pupils visited Collyer’s chemistry department for two afternoons of organic synthesis.
The girls worked superbly, using specialist equipment to synthesise their own pear flavouring from scratch.
Organic chemistry is the chemistry of drug synthesis. The vast majority of therapeutic agents used in the treatment of disease are synthesised using organic techniques.
Organic chemistry is a wonderfully creative field of chemistry! Molecules are literally manipulated atom by atom. In many respects it is similar to cooking: students learn a number of key techniques that then allow for a whole range of possible compounds to be synthesised.
Collyer’s chemistry teacher Angela Cash said: “These sessions are a fantastic opportunity for Millais students to develop their skills in chemistry at the next level, using equipment that they would not normally encounter until advanced and degree level study”.
The girls from Millais synthesised a compound belonging to the family of organic compounds known as Esters. Esters are used as flavourings in food and drink and scent in perfumes. The lab at Collyer’s was certainly pungent by the end of each session!
Dr Rob Hussey, Subject Leader for chemistry, was very impressed with the Millais pupils: “We are in the third year of our collaboration with Millais. Every year we have been bowled over by how proficient Millais girls are in practical terms and how highly knowledgeable they are of the underlying chemistry”.
Following synthesis and purification of their pear flavouring, the Millais students analysed their sample for purity, using Collyer’s cutting edge analytical infrared spectrometer. Analysis proved that every single pair of girls, across both afternoons, managed to synthesise a highly pure product!
Collyer’s Vice Principal, Steve Nicholls was delighted: “Well done to the Millais pupils for impressing our chemistry team! Now they have a flavour of Collyer’s we very much look forward to seeing these students at our college in the future! Huge thanks must go to Collyer’s Dr Rob Hussey, Angela Cash, Senior Technician Sally Ponton and Millais chemistry teacher Sandra MacCaoilte for making the sessions possible.”
Report and picture contributed by Collyer’s.