Hydrogen selenide, I decided, was perhaps the worst smell in the world. But hydrogen telluride came close, was also a smell from hell. An up-to-date hell, I decided, would have not just rivers of fiery brimstone, but lakes of boiling selenium and tellurium, too
Oliver Sacks
Uncle Tungsten: Memories of a Chemical Boyhood
Helen Hale - Head of Chemistry
Mrs H. Hale
Head of Chemistry

Chemistry has a fascinating history. From philosophical roots to alchemists trying to turn base metals into gold, to the embarrassing and backwards phlogiston theory, we have travelled through mysterious and illogical symbology to a subject which seems logical. The discovery and naming of 118 elements is complete and with our knowledge of subatomic particles, we can look back and appreciate the genius of Dmitri Mendeleev, who devised our modern periodic table whilst only being aware of around 50 elements and without knowing that protons existed.

Through improving battery life and efficiency, electric vehicles will become more practical and emissions that cause climate change can be reduced. Similar technological systems could enable long term storage of electricity produced from renewable sources such as the wind and waves.

The development of new polymers could mean biodegradable plastics which do not cause long term pollution or use up our finite resources. Chemical industries produce fertilisers, weapons, coolants, cosmetics, medicines, detergents and all of these items contribute to the improved quality of daily life.

In the past two years we have offered access to several online conferences and events with speakers involved in development of medicines, polymers, catalysts or writers of books such as ‘A is for Arsenic’ or ‘Liquid’. We had visitors from the Royal Society of chemistry to run a workshop on Spectroscopy and we took students on a trip to School’s Day at the Babraham research Institute in Cambridge where they took part in a lab-based project with students from other schools, as well as visiting research labs in the hospital.

GCSE Chemistry has several required practical activities and many demonstrations. You will become expert at observing change, separation of mixtures and identification of the components. You will learn about the principles of chemical bonding which determine the properties of matter, as well as learning how chemists use numbers in their calculations. You will learn that labs now contain many analytical tools linked up to computer technology, but that sometimes there is no substitute for analysis by chemical test or titration.

A Level and IB Chemistry expands on GCSE Chemistry to ‘zoom in’ further on electron arrangement, different types of intermolecular forces and breaks reactions down into their composite steps so that you can really see what drives them forward (or backwards).


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