The History of Chemistry at Work

“Chemistry at Work” was started by Phil Smith, who tragically died in a car accident in 2007. Phil was the Chemistry Teacher who began these events in which school students see many different scientific demonstrations delivered by experts in a day. Over the years Phil ran hundreds of “Chemistry at Work” events in schools and local venues in the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Thames Valley Local Section and, as early as 1991, the RSC saw his events as a very effective way of promoting Chemistry in schools nationally and supported his work. Due to the increasing popularity of these events, the RSC employed a “National Organiser” to support and instruct the “Local Organisers” now running registered “Chemistry at Work” events throughout the Country.



“Sharing the surprises of science with the students is fun.”

“Each group is very different; some students have good questions others are just surprised.”

“Now I’ve got over my initial nerves, I really enjoy demonstrating.”


“Chemistry at Work shows that science is all around us.”

“Our children thoroughly enjoyed the day.”

“The students were talking about it all the way home on the bus.”


“Science is exciting and there were lots of surprises.”

“We liked making the gel.”

“I’ve learned a lot.”

Chemistry at Work Events

These events give you the opportunity to bring to students the positives aspects of the Chemical Sciences occurring beyond School.

While the students learn that Chemistry is connected to other scientific disciplines and become motivated to learn and to achieve better grades, you develop your teaching skills and gain more understanding  of  life in “Education”.

Some examples of the demonstrations put on at our Chemistry at Work events:

Alarm Circuits Blood Testing Energy Conservation
Famous Poisonings Fire Testing Toys Flavouring Soft Drinks
Gel Making Hydrogen Fuel Cells Joining Copper Piping
Oil Production Perfumes Designing Space Research

Description of Events

The sheer variety of the demonstrations taking place on each “Chemistry at Work” day combined with the enthusiasm and dedication of the demonstrators is the key to the success of our events and is reflected by their growing popularity with schools and employers.

There are no age limits for demonstrators. To date, our youngest are 16 year old school students from France demonstrating in careful English and our oldest are well into their retirement and they all find working with students rewarding.

Typical organisations involved include:

Council Departments for: Environmental Health, Highways Departments, Planning, Recycling Education, Trading Standards and Museum Services and School Site managers

The Services: Fire and Rescue, Medical, Police, Army, Navy and Air Force

Large companies using specialist technologies in: Animal Feed, Cars, Catering, Flavouring, Gels, Oil, Packing, Perfumes, Pharmaceuticals, Soap and Sports

Small companies:  Builders, Plumbers, Heating Engineers, decorators.

Enthusiast Organisations for: Bee Keepers, Horse Carers, Fishermen.

Secondary School Events

These Royal Society of Chemistry events for schools, show chemistry, and many unexpectedly related disciplines, as diverse, rewarding and wealth-creating activities found in industry, research and everyday life. The students are introduced to new career ideas and shown the professional skills required while the organisations involved find it enhances their staff training, future recruitment and image in the community.

Primary School Events

Our “REAL SCIENCE” days (Junior Chemistry at Work events) are more about general science and they help children see science as exciting, challenging and practical. Their enthusiastic participation in the demonstrations encourages their future interest in the chemical sciences. They also come to realise that science is everywhere and to appreciate that their school work relates to everyday life and their future.

Demonstrator Training

Our termly “Training Morning for Demonstrators” offers guidance on how to deliver these short demonstrations. It attracts new and practiced demonstrators who exchange experiences and is run by Derek Jones (EBA Area Organiser) with Dr. Maria Pack (RSC National Organiser).

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