Olympiad record for Priestley chemists

STUDENTS from Priestley College have shown they have some of the brightest chemistry minds in the country.

Toby Sharrock, Tailun Sun and Barney Kahn received gold medals and finished in the top 9% in the Chemistry Olympiad, which organisers said was ‘designed to challenge’.

Former Hope Academy pupil Toby enjoyed taking part because of the challenges it posed.

“Another interesting aspect was how current the questions were. We had to answer questions about lateral flow tests and storing the COVID-19 vaccine,” said Toby, who plans to study Physics and Maths at university.

Organisers said 8,668 students from 750 schools sat the olympiad paper with 64% of those who took part receiving awards.

The Royal Society of Chemistry said this year’s olympiad was particularly challenging and this was reflected in the grade boundaries.

Despite this Priestley students achieved a record number of golds and silvers with five. There were also four bronze medals awarded.

Timely scientific contexts were covered in the questions including one about E10 petrol, a grade of petrol which contains up to 10% renewable ethanol (a biofuel).

Other questions covered the quantitative chemistry in lateral flow tests, and explored a technique which allows vaccines to be stored at room temperature.

Students also answered questions about the world’s smallest Chinese knot, cubane and nitrous oxide.

Priestley Chemistry Tutor Wendy Winnard said: “We give students the chance to enter the olympiad every year as a way of challenging themselves beyond the classroom.

“The fact so many choose to take part – and then perform – so well, says a lot about the calibre of students at Priestley.”

RSC Education executive, Chloe Francis, who organises the competition, said: “We are encouraged that so many students and schools were able to take part despite ongoing disruption from Covid-19, and want to thank all the teachers who took the time to facilitate this opportunity for their students.”

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