On Thursday the 19th of November 2019, year 12 chemists, along with one year 13 student took a trip to Birmingham University to attend another lecture, aimed at sixth form students. We always find these lectures interesting and fun, as they help to broaden our knowledge and give us exciting topics to talk about and share with others. For example, we recently attended a lecture called ‘Smack, Crack, Speed and Weed’ where we learned about the chemistry behind drugs and how chemical analysis can be used to identify different drugs.
Even though all of our previous lectures have been enjoyable, we were all especially excited about this particular lecture: ‘Mendeleev’s Gift To Everyone’, led by Martyn Poliakoff (a science legend). Martyn is well known from his successful YouTube channel, where he made ‘The Periodic Table of Videos’, talking about each element in depth. He has also been knighted and has lectured all over the world, but he is mainly based in Nottingham University.
During the lecture, he showed us all of his different styles of periodic tables that he keeps in his office – including clocks, blankets and ties! He also shared his interesting theory that the periodic table should be flipped and read upside down in order to explain how electrons fill and empty orbitals and make it easier to understand. He conducted a study with the help of his daughter (who is a qualified psychologist) and published the results that proved that people looked more at the elements at the bottom of the periodic table when it was flipped upside down, as opposed to when the periodic table was the right way around.
Overall, these lectures have made us enjoy chemistry even more, and have given us understanding of wider concepts that could help us in our final exams or if we decide to pursue chemistry further.