Date of release: Friday, May 30, 2014

Samantha Booth leads Harry Potter-style experiments and explosions at the Medway CampusTalented young scientists analysed ink used on handwritten notes to solve a crime as part of the Salters’ Festival at the University of Greenwich’s Medway Campus.

Teams from eight secondary schools in Kent, Essex and London were put through their paces in the annual event, alongside a team of children educated at home (Mid Kent Home Educators).

They also had to demonstrate their scientific creativity in the labs before being treated to a taste of Harry Potter magic with dry ice experiments and explosions on the university lawns.

Dr Raj Hanarasinghe of the University of Greenwich’s Faculty of Engineering & Science declared Rochester Grammar School the winners of the Salters’ detective challenge.

Mid Kent Home Educators led the field in the university’s challenge, making a chemical clock to synchronise with the rousing beats of rock music and Tchaikovsky’s 1812 overture.

The day of experiments was organised by Dr Samantha Booth, who has staged several previous Salters’ Festivals in Medway as part of the university’s Chemistry outreach programme. The festival is backed by the Royal Society of Chemistry.

Dr Booth says: “It is tremendous fun and I really enjoy the excitement as the young students react to their first hands-on experience of a fully-equipped university science laboratory.

“These are students aged between 12 and 13 years who are already inspired by science and are regular attendees of after-school clubs and activities. The Salters’ Festival challenges are not easy – they cover topics, such as chromatography, that the students have not studied before, and call for creative team-working to solve the puzzles.

“It is rewarding to see how inspired and innovative the teams can be. I know that many of this year’s competitors, like those in previous years, will go on to study science at A-level and beyond,” Dr Booth adds.

The university was joined for the event by Dr Vicki Symington, of the Royal Society of Chemistry, and Susan Woodhead, of the Salters’ Company, which has its origins in the salt trade of medieval London. The Salters’ Company is one of the 12 City of London Livery Companies.

Teams competing in the University of Greenwich Salters’ Festival 2014 were: Borden Grammar School, Sittingbourne; Invicta Grammar School, Maidstone; Rainham Mark Grammar School, Gillingham; The Rochester Grammar School; Mid Kent Home Educators; Brentwood Ursuline Convent High School; LSU The Grays Convent High School; Eltham College, Mottingham; and Prendergast Vale College, London.

Story by Public Relations

Picture: Samantha Booth leads Harry Potter-style experiments and explosions at the Medway Campus.