Pharmacy Guest Lecture – Prof. Vitaliy Khutoryanskiy

Professor Vitaliy Khutoryanskiy visited Crosfields School on the 19th of January to meet 35 of their year 7 and 8 students. Professor Khutoryanskiy talked passionately about the use of Maths in Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical sciences and inspired future generations of pharmacists through exciting interactive demonstrations involving effervescent vitamin C tablets!

Some pictures of the event can be found on Crosfield School’s facebook page:

Professor Khutoryanshiy is a renowned expert in formulation science and his research may impact the way we take ocular medicine in the future. For more information visit his staff page at:

Spaceships to paperclips: Polymer workshop at Redlands Primary School

On the 19th of January Dr Ben Littlefield visited Redlands Primary School in Reading to carry out an exciting hands on workshop focused on current research being carried out at the University of Reading into Polymer chemistry. The 30 year 6 students first had some active revision of the three main states of matter, through a combination of role play and exciting dry ice demonstrations. They then produced and created two different polymers and investigated their very different properties. To sum up the students learnt about Professor Howard Colquhoun’s research into self healing polymers.

‘ I just wanted to say what a fantastic time Year 6 (and their adults!) had today during the chemistry session. Lots of mess and fun and a lot of learning!’

– Teacher at Redlands Primary School.

For further information on Professor Colquhoun’s research please follow this link:

Spectroscopy Workshop – 14th January 2015

The first of the Spectroscopy Workshops hosted by the School of Chemistry, Food Sciences and Pharmacy was carried out on the 14th of January. Visiting A-level students from Bedales School (Petersfield) and St Joseph’s Catholic High School (Slough) were welcomed to the department by Dr Ben Littlefield before receiving a comprehensive overview of three pillars of chemical analysis from : Mass spectrometry, Infra-red spectroscopy and Nuclear Magnetic Resonance. The visiting students were then invited into the multi-million pound Chemical Analysis Facility where Dr Geoff Brown and Dr John Mckendrick showcased some of the instrumentation. Students then carried out a complicated  problem-based learning exercise where they had to utilise their new-found knowledge to identify unknown compounds from limited data.

Flames Brains and Nuclear reactors – Demonstration talk at Reading Girls School


(photo from Winchester Science Festival – dry ice subliming rapidly in warm water, one of the demonstrations used in ‘Flames, Brains and Nuclear reactors’, photo credit Dave Hughes)

2015 has started with a bang, flash and a large amount of foam for Reading Girls School as Dr Ben Littlefield visited to deliver his demonstration talk ‘Flames, Brains and Nuclear reactors’.On the 13th of January  90 year 8 students were taken through an eclectic journey of current cutting edge chemistry research into materials at the University of Reading; showcased by often explosive demonstrations. One student said:

‘I found the experiments interesting because the reactions were awesome and didn’t know what was coming’

This visit was to kick off an exciting five year project with Reading Girls school and six other local schools (The Costello School, Cranbourne Business and Enterprise college, Wexham School, Westgate School and the John Madejski Academy) where the University of Reading, partnered with the University of Southampton will be working closely with targeted year groups to try and empower students with awareness of just what studying chemistry can do for their lives and their future.

This is part of a wider, one million pound project funded by the Royal Society of Chemistry to ultimately advise the government and senior management at both schools and Universities as to what is effective practice to widen participation in the chemical sciences. For more information follow this link:


Advanced Chemistry Labs

On the 2nd of September 2014 the department of Chemistry was visited by 25 year 11 students from Reigate Grammar School. The visiting students took part in a nucleophilic substitution reaction where they started with an unknown starting material, had to react it with known reagents, purify their products and then identify the starting material using advanced analytical techniques such as infra-red spectroscopy and melting point analysis. The visitors were also taken on a tour of the wider facilities available in the School of Chemistry, Food and Nutritional Sciences and Pharmacy.

The event worked well, with students sending back feedback saying:

‘Thank you for organising the Chemistry trip to Reading University, I really enjoyed having the chance to use some fabulous and advanced equipment in order to conduct a great experiment in the lab. The tour guide was also really engaging as well as being very willing to explain things and answer questions. All in all it was a good fun and gave me a great insight into the life of a chemistry student at a top University.’

– Year 11 student, Reigate Grammar School

‘I found the Reading trip to be very informative about university life, what equipment we will use and what experiments we can hope to do. All the new technology made me want to go to university even more. The experiment we did was well organised and taught me much about chemistry I hadn’t heard of before, like esters. Getting results to take back was an added bonus.’

– Year 11 student, Reigate Grammar School

Blog is now live!

This blog’s purpose is to highlight outreach activities being carried out across the Faculty of Life Sciences at the University of Reading. It will showcase some of the many events and summarise key points of feedback. It will also be used as a reflective place for the dissemination of good practice regarding Science communication in general.