Despite the challenges and restrictions due to COVID, RSC Belgium successfully organised and ran its annual 'international eliminator' for the Royal Society of Chemistry's Top of the Bench (TOTB) competition in 2020 - and the results are now in. This year, the competition was run remotely during late November and early December with the results evaluated over the Christmas holiday period. The winning team, who will now represent Belgium in the TOTB grand final in March, is Team Phosphorus from St. Georges International School in Luxembourg. The school therefore retains the Keith Price Cup as their Team Sulfur was Belgium's TOTB winners in 2019.
Our 2020 TOTB eliminator retained the usual elements of the competition: a written test component for individual team members and a practical group exercise. Also as usual the questions were set by RSC committee member Rita Woodward.
TOTB teams need to be composed of four students with two students from Year 9 (UK equivalent to 3rd year or Grade 8), one student from Year 10 UK (4th year or Grade 9) and one student from Year 11 (5th year or Grade 10). With COVID restrictions/ bubbles this added an extra complication to the event.
The competition itself was managed remotely by the participating schools and consisted of a Multiple-Choice ‘Written’ Section, with questions and marking schemes tailored to the three age groups that was delivered in an appropriate 'timed' manner at the schools and a practical element with input from all four team members. The practical task for 2020 was to construct a calibration graph and use it to determine the percentage of baking soda (bicarbonate of soda) present in a commercially produced baking powder. Practical kits were sent to participating schools.