Chemistry at Queen’s is a vibrant mix of ‘hands on’ experiments, state-of-the-art technology and experienced and enthusiastic teaching. The Head of Department, Tim Joliff, is the author of the Royal Society of Chemistry book Chemistry for the Gifted and Talented written when he was the RSC School Teacher Fellow. All the dedicated staff in the department work hard to make Chemistry exciting and rewarding by using a great variety of stimulating activities in teaching and learning.
Chemistry pupils undertake significant experimental work. Test tubes and Bunsen burners, colours, smells, bangs and bubbles are part of Chemistry as much now as ever. These activities are enhanced by regular use of specialist computer software (both in the lab and in the computer room), data logging equipment, LCD projectors, an interactive whiteboard, the Internet and molecular models.
The Chemistry Department is housed on the ground floor of the newly refurbished Callard Laboratories. There are three spacious and well-equipped ‘state-of-the-art’ teaching labs, all connected to a central preparation room. Also on the ground floor alongside the laboratories is a computer room linked to the school network with 24 workstations.
Many pupils find Chemistry fascinating outside the lessons themselves and we aim to stretch our students beyond the curriculum. Our Year 8 pupils are involved with Bristol University’s Salter’s Festival competition and many of our younger pupils in Years 7-9 take part in regular Salter’s A Pinch of Salt competitions. Older pupils are involved in the RSC Top of the Bench competition for Years 9, 10 and 11 as well as national Olympiads, the Cambridge Chemistry Challenge and masterclasses. We encourage our pupils to read industry publications such as Chemistry Review, run trips to Cardiff University, County Hall (scientific services), Techniquest, the hands-on Science museum At-Bristol, as well as holding lecture days in school.
Pupils are taught Chemistry as a separate science in Years 7, 8 and 9. They follow a course designed to cover Key Stage 3 in Years 7 and 8 and start the GCSE course in Year 9. We get to grips with acids and alkalis, metals and their extraction, oxidation and separation techniques. Higher order thinking skills are developed through ‘Lets think’ lessons. These thinking skills are an important foundation which we build at GCSE and A Level.
At GCSE, all pupils take Chemistry as a separate subject or as part of the two GCSE Sciences - the Double Award. We follow the AQA GCSE Chemistry and Double award (combined science: Trilogy) specifications and the course covers conceptual understanding built from particle theory and atomic structure to bonding and the periodic table. This is a linear course with no modules or coursework and serves as a great foundation in science and good preparation for A level study.