Saturday, 30 November 2013

RSC holds 'International' TOTB Qualifier!

RSC Belgium held its first ever ‘international’ eliminator heat for the annual RSC Top of the Bench (TOTB) competition on Saturday 23 November at the British School of Brussels (BSB). As ever it was a hard-fought struggle between a total of 12 teams from eight schools including three schools competing for the very first time. In a very close finish the ‘Bromine’ team from the British School of Brussels claimed the Keith Price Cup and the right to represent RSC Belgium in the 2014 final!

This was the third time that the RSC Belgium's TOTB eliminator has been held as an actual 'head-to-head' competition with a practical element and the popularity of this format is clearly growing. In addition to welcoming three new schools to the competition – including one from Luxembourg – the section also welcomed RSC coordinator for the Top of the Bench competition Sue Thompson, who came over from the UK to help with the judging and see how we ran our eliminator.

The full team line up was as follows:
For the SHAPE International School, the International School of Flanders and St George’s International School this year was the first time they had competed in our eliminator.

Foaming conkers
The twelve teams of budding chemists had to complete a short written test on their individual chemical knowledge and data interpretation skills and then show teamwork and problem-solving abilities in a practical chemical exercise.

This year the test involved the use of conkers! The teams were set the task of preparing a detergent from saponin – a component of conkers – and then produce a certain volume of chemical foam using a detergent mixture, bicarbonate of soda and a minimum volume of lemon juice.

Teams were judged on their approach to the problem, teamwork, the quality of the recording of their work and the accuracy and precision of their observations.

This format closely reflects the format of the competition that the winners will face in the actual RSC–run final. As usual Rita Woodward devised this cunning competition and set the questions.

Close competition
All twelve teams consisted of four students aged 14 - 16 and were accompanied by teachers. When teams had worked out their own solution, their efforts were timed by judges Prof. Bob Crichton, Dr. Ian Carson, Dr Becki Scott, Sue Thompson and Gavin Brown.

The overall winners were determined by their team placing in both written and practical parts of the 'eliminator'.

The final result was very tight with the winners being the Bromine team from BSB, followed by the Argon team also from BSB and in third place Nitrogen from newcomers St Georges International School in Luxembourg. The winning teams are pictured above having been presented with the Keith Price Cup by branch chairman Prof Bob Crichton. The team will now represent Belgium in the (inter)national final in the UK in 2014.

In addition the Nitrogen team (above) from St. George’s received RSC tee-shirts as they came top in the written part of the competition. All the students who took part in the competition will also receive certificates.

Clearly everyone who took part in the competition had a very enjoyable time with both students and teachers very enthusiastic about this competitive format. RSC Belgium looks forward to an even bigger and better Belgian TOTB eliminator next year.

Our thanks to all the teachers and students (see below) who took part in a really fun afternoon of chemistry!

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