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Chemistry

Materials, medicines, and energy; flashes and bangs; the structure of nature 鈥 its beauty on the surface and elegance underneath; how to know these things, and how to tame them.

Chemistry is a physical science that introduces a toolkit for investigating and understanding the world around us.

If you want to understand and maybe even fix today’s major problems, you need some chemistry. The challenges posed by climate change, energy storage and pandemics affect us all, but people who can understand and practise chemistry can do something about them. There is also deep satisfaction in simply finding out how the physical world works.

The department goes a long way towards promoting enrichment within the subject, through wide-ranging digressions from examined material, the inclusion of extensive and rigorous practical work, and perhaps most importantly for preparing pupils for later study in many fields, through regular, high-level problem solving. The effectiveness of the last point is emphasised by the Eighth Formers鈥 (Year 12 and 13) exceptional results in the RSC Olympiad (Lower and Upper Eighth) and the Cambridge Chemistry Challenge (Lower Eighth only) competitions. Both competitions expose pupils to the type of problem-based work that is the mainstay of any kind of science degree. Pupils are pushed well beyond the familiar, and often beyond where their base of knowledge can help them, to a place where grit and clear thought are the keys to success.

GCSE

All pupils study Chemistry with a view to sitting IGCSE Chemistry (Edexcel 4CH1). The course covers a wide range of Chemistry, with plenty of opportunity for practical work, and provides a very solid foundation from which to transfer to further study with confidence.

A Level

Nearly half the year group studies chemistry at A Level, following the OCR A syllabus.

Co-curricular

The Chemistry Projects Club runs weekly in the autumn and spring terms. Senior pupils undertake a course of undergraduate-level synthetic organic chemistry. This not only gives them a flavour of what university lab work would be like, but also enhances their practical skills beyond recognition. Some pupils from the club also go on to become demonstrators for the Year 12 outreach programme that we run during the spring term, helping pupils from state schools from all over London to undertake chemical projects.

Our Junior Projects Club runs weekly throughout the year for all three year groups. Pupils from the club enter the annual RSC Top of the Bench competition, a set of practical challenges against the clock and other schools. In 2023, our team finished 3rd in the National Finals of this competition. We also enter the National Scientific Thinking Challenge each year, winning 15 awards in 2023.

The RSC Chemistry Olympiad and Cambridge Chemistry Challenge figure prominently in what we do and help greatly to normalise the tackling of difficult problems: once you start looking at tough stuff in this way, it becomes less intimidating and much more of an open opportunity. In the last year, Paulines have won 234 awards, including 81 golds, in these competitions. The Chemistry Problem Solving Club is a pupil-led society, which tackles Olympiad-style problems in the spring and summer terms. We also enter the Chemistry Race each year where pupils work as a team to solve a set of theoretical problems against the clock and other schools.

Cole Hunt 3D reaction-diffusion

Gallery

Zinc displacement reaction
Thermite
Hydrogen
Hydrogen
Gas chromatography - sample injected
Gas chromatography - awaiting results
Crystal Garden
Crystal Garden
Chemistree
Chemistree
Cambridge Chemistry Challenge trophy
Cambridge Chemistry Challenge trophy
Pupils making deductions about reactivity
Explosives talk
Explosives talk
Explosives talk
Pupil watches liquid oxygen clinging to magnet
Interactive Periodic Table
Chemistry Olympiad Certificates

Halley Society

The Halley Research Community is named after the Old Pauline scientist, Edmond Halley.

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Scanning Electron Microscope

At St Paul鈥檚 we are lucky to have our own scanning electron microscope (SEM) as part of our microscopy research suite.

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