Last week, Ariana Jones and Hannah Levene set out to tour high schools in the Scottish Highlands in a car full of high-tech kit (value several times more than the car)!
Funded by the RSC Spectroscopy in A Suitcase programme and supported by the loan of a benchtop NMR by the School of Chemistry, they brought with them FT-IR, UV and benchtop NMR spectrometers to inspire high school students and to show them the wonders of spectroscopy.
In a demanding schedule they travelled to Fort William on Monday to start their 4 day tour in Lochaber High school only to set on the road in the afternoon to travel to Portree, Ullapool and Dingwall in the following days. They were all relieved that the weather settled and the icy weather forecast did not materialise!
During the classes they introduced basics of IR, UV, MS and NMR with examples of how these techniques are used in "real scientific life". This was followed by solving a mystery murder by analysing samples found at the crime scene.
Four shoe samples were measured and compared to the IR sample from the crime scene. A separate group was making up solutions for calibration curves and testing a sample from the crime scene using UV spectroscopy. Informal discussions on NMR helped to bridge the knowledge gap and the spectrum of ethanol was interpreted helping to solve the murder mystery.
Students were also interested in discussing university applications and advanced higher projects. More than 40 students from six high schools participated in the workshops and we hope to see some of them in Edinburgh Chemistry in the forthcoming years.
Tired but spirited, Ariana and Hannah arrived back in Edinburgh Friday evening.