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RSC Top of the Bench Competition

On Wednesday 12 December, Freddie Ward, Bradley Sleeman, Tegan Wade and Amy Vickery took part in the regional Top of the Bench competition. This prestigious event is run by the RSC (Royal Society of Chemistry), and was hosted by the University of Exeter. The team’s first task was to determine the acidity of different drinks and rank them from most acidic to least. They did this by titrating the drinks against sodium hydroxide, using phenolphthalein as an indicator. They then took a chemistry test, with 20 multiple choice questions to answer.

Next was lunch, during which Dr Lancaster gave the students a brief tour of the campus, taking in the sports complex, the library and the guild of students in particular. The students really appreciated that this campus university is really a village attached to the city of Exeter.

After lunch, the team were challenged to find out which antacid tablet was best value for money. They had no instructions, simply a box of equipment and chemicals. They only had one of each tablet, so there was no opportunity to do a test experiment or to check for anomalies. They had to devise a method and then carry it out, showing their problem solving abilities and applying what they had learned in the morning. The team worked incredibly well together, with each member playing a full part. They listened to each other’s ideas and worked really well in their problem solving. They were excellent ambassadors for the College.