The Royal Society of Chemistry Schools Analyst competition is an annual event that challenges students in Year 12 to a series of unfamiliar practicals, aiming to test the ability to carry out experiments accurately and exhibit strong teamwork skills. We participated in the regional round in Bristol last Wednesday and were very happy to have come away with 2nd place.
The competition primarily comprised of a practical determining the percentage of paracetamol in paracetamol tablets, whereby we had to accurately make up multiple solutions, learning and using infra-red absorption to determine concentrations and extrapolating a graph to find specific values. This was definitely the most challenging task, perhaps because it was most unfamiliar, but it was interesting to learn and use new equipment and techniques. We also had to complete a titration and a theoretical task; all these tasks together proved to be challenging to complete in the time given, resulting in the frantic rush of calculations and cleaning up in the last five minutes! Nonetheless, we utilised all the time allocated and made our team as efficient as possible, which improved our teamwork skills hugely.
The day ended with engaging lecture complete with numerous exciting experiments which were fascinating to learn about. Finally, the results were announced and we were delighted to learn that our team came 2nd, but perhaps more amused by the news that Dr Smith was doing cartwheels because of the result!
In addition to the success the competition equipped us with a multitude of skills, most notably teamwork and working under pressure in an unfamiliar environment which will aid us throughout our A-Levels and further education. It was also very enjoyable to participate, despite the stress in the final few minutes, and was overall a fantastic experience.