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Making music with chemistry

Published: Thur 4 April 2019

Chemists from the University of Bradford will join students from Ilkley Grammar School to present their project at the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition.

Led by Dr Nicolas Barry and Dr William Martin from the University's School of Chemistry and Biosciences, the group will showcase their interactive activities around 'molecular music: the sound of chemistry' at the prestigious event in London.

The Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition showcases 22 exhibitions, with one every year reserved for a partnership project. The project with Ilkley Grammar was awarded a Partnership Grant from the Royal Society in 2017.

The students at Ilkley Grammar School carried out some classic chemical reactions under the guidance of their chemistry teacher Dr Neil Garrido and of University of Bradford senior lecturers Dr William Martin and Dr Nicolas Barry. 

The project involved using chemical reactions to make musical scales, these scales were then played by students with musical instruments and a recording was made.

Their experiments were recorded following laboratory best practice guidelines. They then analysed their samples at the University using various techniques, such as NMR and infrared (IR) spectroscopies. 

Dr Nicolas Barry, Senior Lecturer in Inorganic Chemistry and Royal Society University Research Fellow, said: "This project demonstrates how chemistry can be fun and exciting, while providing a novel method to understand science. By interpreting data in a more sensorial way we can learn about how Nature works at the molecular level and help chemistry appeal to a non-specialist audience."

Dr Neil Garrido, Teacher in Chemistry at Ilkley Grammar School, said: "It's been a wonderful opportunity for my students to be involved in such an ambitious project , working alongside university academics carrying out advanced chemical reactions has allowed them to take their learning way beyond what is normally taught at school. The fact they have been able to use the state-of-the-art facilities at the university has also really helped embed the learning we do in the classroom and make what we teach more relevant. It has given them a glimpse into the world of academic research and hopefully will inspire the next generation of scientists"

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