Monday, 22 November 2010

Girls get greenlight for chemistry!

RSC Belgium got cooking with chemistry for over 200 girls at the Greenlight4Girls event at the International School of Brussels on 20 November. This all-day Saturday event brought together young women aged 11 - 16 from all the language communities in Belgium to get a taste of science, engineering, ICT and above all fun.

The RSC Belgium team held four Culinary Chemistry workshops. Each workshop took around 45 minutes and involved some hands-on experiments incorporating elements of the RSC Culinary Chemistry Resource pack and some 'cheese-based' ideas from the ACS's 'Get Cooking with Chemistry' booklet.

The experiments were described, developed and tested by RSC members Rita Woodward and Carolyn Ribes. Every participant took home their own workbook, RSC stickers and pens plus some tasty recipes for cheesy treats to try out at home. Two workshops were delivered in English, one in French and the fourth in Dutch. In total over 50 girls got cooking with chemistry.

Chemistry is magic
As well as cooking with chemistry, Profs Bob Crichton and Bobbie Ward gave a couple of workshops that combined top magical illusions with some chemical tricks to demonstrate molecular magic featuring liquid nitrogen and solid carbon dioxide.

Chemistry was also well represented in the workshops with contributions from the Belgian Chemical Industry organisation Essenscia and Belgian pharmaceutical giant Janssen Pharmaceutica amongst others. GSK Biologicals provided all the girls (and workshop leaders) with their own labcoats that the girls decorated during the event and took home with a bag full of other goodies at the end of the day.

The full RSC team at Greenlight4Girls were (left to right, below) Rita Woodward, Bobbie Ward, Elodie Sureau, Carolyn Ribes, Bob Crichton, Ian Carson and Amourie Prentice with Tim Reynolds holding the camera.

Greenlight4Girls is an international organisation and social initiative dedicated to promoting science, engineering and all things 'geeky' to girls and young women. Its mission is to encourage young girls of all ages to consider a future in maths, science, engineering and technology by introducing them to the world of science in fun and exciting ways. More events in Belgium (and elsewhere) are on the drawing board and RSC Belgium is planning to remain involved and support this exciting initiative.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Students get reward at BioRef event

A substantial audience turned out for the lecture on 'Concepts for Future Biorefineries' with Prof. Franck Dumeignil from the Université de Lille at the end of October in the Brel Theatre, British School of Brussels (BSB). The event also saw some of the winners of our Chemistry Challenge competition get their prizes.

Prof Dumeignil is project coordinator for the large EuroBioRef Project which is supported by €23 million funding from the EU's 7th Framework Programme. This project, which was launched earlier in 2010, involves 28 partners from 14 countries and intends to develop a new highly integrated concept, moving from the current single feedstock, single product biofuel production to a refinery using multiple, non-edible, feedstocks, multiple processes and making multiple products, such as aviation fuel and chemicals.

The main challenges and approaches to this field of research were outlined by Prof Dumeignil and some specific aspects of the EuroBioRef project, which is part of a matrix of EU-funded projects that are covering pretty much all aspects of the integrated biorefinery concept. The talk inspired a lively debate over drinks and nibbles afterwards.

Student prizes
Prior to the lecture some of the winners of our first Chemistry Challenge/ Olympiad received their prizes. Pictured below (from left to right) are winner Sagar Shah (from BSB), competition organiser Rita Woodward, RSC Belgium Chairman Prof. Bob Crichton, student winners Luca Schopen (from St John’s International School) and Shonit Shah (from BSB).

The Chemistry Challenge was a big hit with a wide range of schools. As it is based around problem-solving involving both chemical knowledge and mental agility it has more potential to easily translate across the language communities in Belgium, unlike, for example an essay competition. Feedback from teachers and students was very positive and we hope to make this an annual event.

Plasma Tech
Don't forget our next lecture with Dr. Laurent Denis from the University of Mons on: Materials for Today - Thin Film Applications of Plasma Technology. The lecture takes place on Thursday, November 18th in the Swoosh Lounge at BSB (19:45 for 20:00 kick-off) with informal discussion with the speaker over drinks and nibbles afterwards.

If you want to come to any RSC Belgium events don't forget to register in advance by emailing the section so we can quantify the drinks and nibbles required.

IYC 2011
Plans are advancing to kick-off our International Year of Chemistry programme with a Café Chimique Climate Change debate in the Espace 53 pod at the Autoworld Museum at the Brussels Cinquantenaire on Thursday January 27th 2011. This will be a very special venue with very special speakers. Doors will open 19:15 and prebooking will be essential. Full details will be circulated early in the New Year.