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.
As a Chemistry student, you will 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.
You will follow the AQA Chemistry course and do a lot of experimental work that gets you thinking. The emphasis is on being able to handle concepts and problem solving rather than remembering lots of facts. Although you will not need to be A Level Mathematicians to cope, you will need to be able to think logically and carefully. Some Chemists are surprised by the amount of calculations you have to do which typically relate to practical contexts and involve rearranging equations, using ratios and keeping track of units and significant figures.
Many pupils find Chemistry fascinating beyond the lessons themselves and we aim to stretch our students beyond the curriculum. As a Year 12 student, you can take part in the Chemistry Olympiad, the Cambridge Chemistry Challenge, master-classes and make aspirin. You will not be bound to the labs but take trips to Bristol University and attend Sixth Form lecture days.
The teaching style promotes independent learning and the development of study skills which provides an excellent platform from which to go on to University. Each year several of the A grade Chemists gain places at Oxbridge and many read Medicine or Veterinary Science there and elsewhere. Degree courses chosen can be as diverse as Law, Languages and Archaeology as well as those that expect A grade Chemistry such as Medicine, Chemical Engineering or Biochemistry; a comprehensive careers support programme is in place for students wishing to move into medical fields.