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‘Top of the Bench’


Trent College students, Connor Robinson (Year11), James Cusick (Year 10),  Robyn Oleshko and Poppy Fisher (both Year 9) were finalists joining 32 teams from across the UK taking part in the national final of the Royal Society of Chemistry's prestigious annual schools' competition (April).

‘Top of the Bench’ showdown took place at Loughborough University and is aimed to increase the participation of young people in chemistry and inspire the next generation of scientists.  The competition has been running for over twenty years and, each year, teams of four 13 to 16 year olds compete for the ‘Top of the Bench’ trophy.

James Cusick writes “The test was in two sections, the first quarter was general chemistry knowledge, and the remaining portion was applied knowledge with an “Energy” theme. The questions were quite challenging. After lunch we did a practical challenge, this consisted of: using titrations to identify the concentration of zinc sulphate, testing the use of different concentrations of copper sulphate for use with the zinc sulphate in a galvanic cell to create the most voltage and performing tests to determine the effect of temperature on a galvanic cell. This activity lasted for two hours.
Next we had an interactive lecture on the subject of “choosing the future”.  This involved a number of PHD students talking us through their fields and methods of research, we then voted for the one who we deemed to be the most worthwhile of funding and after a number of rounds a winner was chosen. After this was the award ceremony where the names of the top 6 schools were announced and also the top student.

Charlotte Alston, Teacher of Chemistry at Trent College, accompanied the students to the final. She said: “Trent came out 11th overall position. This is the first time Trent College has qualified for the national ‘Top of the Bench’ final so we are very proud of Connor, Robyn, Poppy and James for their achievement”. 

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