Chemistry

Outreach studentsOur Chemistry outreach programs for VCE students are designed to support and fulfil the requirements of School Assessed Coursework.

These programs allow students to use analytical instruments, explore the chemistry of water and synthesise and analyse substances including gold nanoparticles and Aspirin.

VCE

Instrumental Analysis of Water Soluble Compounds

For: Year 11, VCE Chemistry Unit 2

Available: 28 August to 22 September

Duration: 3 hours

Cost: $26 per student

Maximum: 24 students

Location: Melbourne, Bendigo, Albury-Wodonga

This workshop is aligned to the new VCE chemistry study design. Specific water-soluble compounds are found in a wide range of environments. They can be a significant component in common beverages and/or a major contributor to water pollution.

Techniques such as Atomic Absorption Spectroscopy (AAS), High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) and Ultraviolet-visible Spectrophotometry (UV-VIS) are used to identify and quantitatively determine many water-soluble compounds.

Students participate in experiments using AAS, HPLC and UV-VIS instruments to determine the calcium carbonate content in hard water, water soluble compounds in foods or beverages and natural water sources.

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Introduction to Chemical Processes

Outreach students

For: Year 12, VCE Chemistry Unit 3

Available: 27 March to 21 April

Duration: 3 hours

Cost: $26 per student

Maximum: 24 students

Location: Melbourne

Students study a variety of chemical processes in the revised Unit 3 VCE chemistry. As a practical lead-in to some of these, this workshop offers students the opportunity to try three to four experiments drawn from the following broad areas: fuels and energy; endothermic/exothermic reactions, and reaction kinetics (the effects of catalysts, concentration and equilibrium situations).

The workshop enhances students’ understanding of these processes in a fully equipped chemistry laboratory in a timeframe and environment that may not be possible at school.

Detailed student notes provided include background for each experiment plus revision questions and additional material that reinforces understanding of the concepts presented.

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Chemical Analysis

For: Year 12, VCE Chemistry Unit 4

Available: 17 July to 11 August

Duration: 3 hours

Cost: $26 per student

Maximum: 40 students

Location: Melbourne, Bendigo, Albury-Wodonga

Naturally occurring and synthetic organic compounds are common in many everyday products and especially food. In food, they can be part of the nutritional content e.g. vitamins, or they can be used to enhance appearance and taste, as is the case with food dyes and flavourings, or they can act as antioxidants and preservatives to prolong the quality and lifespan of food and beverages.

In this workshop, students participate in four instrument-based experiments that are used either to classify organic compounds or to identify specific organic compounds in food or beverages. In some instances, quantitative analysis of the compound of interest will be performed.

Students gain experience in the role of Infrared Spectroscopy (IR) in structural analysis by analysing the spectra of esters and their components, and in the use of Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) to differentiate the structural characteristics of classes of organic compounds with the same carbon number. The qualitative and quantitative aspects of High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) are used to identify and determine the concentration of preservative and/or artificial sweeteners in diet soft drinks, while UV-Visible spectroscopy enables the determination of caffeine content in colas and energy drinks.

The workshop includes hands-on preparation of standards and/or samples. Comprehensive student notes are provided, covering instrument characteristics, background information and revision questions.

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Middle years

Cool Nanoscience

For: Year 10, General Science

Available: Term 2 and Term 4

Duration: 2 hours

Cost: $24 per student

Maximum: 24 students

Location: Melbourne, Bendigo, Albury-Wodonga

Nanoscience is the study and understanding of physical materials at the level of atoms and molecules, where structures are so small they are impossible to see with the naked eye. Until recently, such structures were impossible to see even with the most powerful microscope. With the development of new technologies in microscopy, however, scientists can now see how atoms and molecules behave at this level, and even manipulate that behaviour: to create new materials with huge technological potential.

It was this convergence of nanoscience and technology that generated the term Nanotechnology, a phenomenon of the modern world that has only recently morphed into a specialist discipline of mainstream science.

In this workshop students gain a practical understanding of the basic concepts of nanoscience, through guided experiments in the ancient art of chemistry. By synthesising gold nanoparticles in a laboratory, and manipulating the extraordinary properties of the shape memory alloy Nitinol, they see and experience the extraordinary properties of nanomaterials at the nanoscale.

By investigating the hydrophobic or waterproof properties of magic sand, properties that can be used to establish a moisture barrier and to fight oil spills, students can also see for themselves the potential for exploiting nanoscience to fight environmental pollution and enhance agriculture.

The workshop also introduces students to the application of nanomaterials such as gold nanoparticles and diverse other nanotechnologies in medical science, and their potential for revolutionising modern medicine.

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What's in the Shampoo?

For: Year 9-10, General Science

Available: Term 1 and Term 4

Duration: 2 hours

Cost: $24 per student

Maximum: 24 students

Location: Melbourne, Bendigo

We wash our hair for hygiene and appearance, more often than not using shampoos and conditioners. But what’s in the shampoo? Do you know? And why does it work better than soap and water? While the cosmetics industry engages highly paid cosmetic scientists to formulate a diverse range of highly competitive hair care products, few consumers understand the role of the ingredients used. This workshop demystifies that science.

Students are introduced to the science and methodology of formulating shampoos and conditioners. They are shown how a careful selection of ingredients results in stable products that are kind to hair and suitable for use in a variety of different water conditions.

The workshop covers the physiology of hair and skin, an explanation of such concepts as pH and hard water qualities, the major classes of ingredients used, the origin and properties of raw materials used, and the role of preservatives. Students also learn about the manufacturing process from laboratory to commercial sale.

They will go home as smarter consumers, with an informed awareness of the science of hair care, a more discerning awareness of hair care products, and a take-home sample of their own shampoo preparation.

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Making Medicine

For: Year 10, Extension Program

Available: Term 2 and Term 4

Duration: 2 hours

Cost: $24 per student

Maximum: 24 students

Location: Melbourne, Bendigo, Albury-Wodonga

In this workshop students experience the thrill of chemistry as medicine – by making and purifying one of mankind’s most commonly used therapeutic drugs, commonly known as aspirin.

The pain-killing properties of aspirin were originally discovered in the 19th Century by scientists investigating the anti-inflammatory qualities of a bitter powder found in the bark of a willow tree. It was known for thousands of years that this powder, along with the herb meadowsweet, eased pain and reduced fever. Scientists identified the active ingredient responsible as salicin, and then discovered that the human body converts salicin into salicylic acid, a substance that actively helps reduce pain and fever. While doctors once prescribed salicylic acid directly, its acidic effects compromised its therapeutic value. This setback was remedied in 1897 when chemists synthesised a modified version of the compound with fewer side effects: acetylsalicylic acid, or aspirin.

Students are guided through the process of synthesising crystals of aspirin, and then purifying the product using the recrystallisation method. They also learn how to gauge the purity of their product using a spot test and by measuring its Melting Point (MP).

Note: Suitable for students with a strong background and interest in chemistry.

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