The Schools’ Analyst Competition is a national competition run by the RSC’s Analytical Division.

Teams are required to undertake various practical analytical determinations based on problems relevant to industrial or social needs. These are judged for skill, understanding and accuracy and are intended to promote team work and safety in the laboratory. Each competition aims to provide some tasks which are relatively familiar to the students, such as titrations, and others which are likely to be unfamiliar, such as chromatographic separations or atomic and molecular spectroscopy. In this way, it is hoped that the competitors will learn new skills, as well as demonstrate their existing knowledge, skills and aptitude for analytical science.

The Loreto heat of the competition took place in the Chemistry Dept. for three weekly sessions after college during March and involved six teams each consisting of four lower sixth students. The winning team comprised Fergal Hanna, Kara Mohamed, James Sweeney and Kathryn Jones; Fergal, Kara and James went on to represent the college in the Manchester heat of the competition, held at Manchester Metropolitan University’s Division of Chemistry and Environmental Science.

At the Manchester heat students had to perform both familiar and unfamiliar analytical techniques. They were asked to:

  • Identify an unknown powder using Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR).
  • Use titration to determine the concentration of Acetylsalicylic Acid in Over-the-counter Aspirin packs.
  • Perform quantitative analysis of Aspirin using High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC).

Throughout the day assessors observed the students work and assessed their attitude in such areas as safety, housekeeping, organisation and experimental technique, as well as the accuracy and reliability of their results.

The team from Loreto came second (our best result ever) out of 12, with a score of 88 out of 105. The winning team, from Altrincham Grammar School for Boys, went on to represent the North West Analytical Division at the National Finals.