High school teachers and students enjoy 'Chemistry in Amsterdam'
On Thursday 17 March about fifty high school teachers and their students attended the 'Chemistry in Amsterdam' meeting at the Amsterdam Science Park. Through lectures and experiments they were (re)acquinted with academic chemistry research in Amsterdam and at the same time informed on the bachelor in Chemistry, provided jointly by the University of Amsterdam and the Vrije Universiteit.
In his welcome speech Sape Kinderman, director of the Amsterdam bachelor in Chemistry, underpinned the relevance of the fruitful cooperation of the two universities. Chemistry students in Amsterdam are able to 'tap into' a broad reservoir of chemistry knowledge, ranging from basic principles to relevant themes such as human life sciences and sustainable chemistry.
The latter theme was illustrated by professor Bas de Bruin of the Van 't Hoff Institute for Molecular Sciences, who was elected 2015 Lecturere of the Year by the Student Council and the ASVA Student Union. Bas gave an overview of his work on bio-inspired catalysts and stressed the relevance of chemistry research for a future sustainable society which does not deplete earth's resources and minimizes energy use and waste production.
Paintings as chemical factories
Paintings research scientist Katrien Keune, working both at the Rijksmuseum and the University of Amsterdam, introduced her audience to the concept of "paintings as chemical factories". She presented exiting examples of her research into the chemistry of paint ageing and deterioration.
Finally researcher Eelco Ruijter of the Vrije Universiteit explained new concepts in synthetic organic chemistry, in particular the nature-inspired cascade synthesis for the production of biologically relevant complex chiral polycyclic compounds. His in-depth lecture gave a fascinating outlook on current progress in this field of medicinally relevant chemistry.
The second half of the afternoon was dedicated to hands-on activities. In the educational labs the visiting students and teachers were given ample opportunity to experience synthesis and analysis of exciting chemical compounds such as fragrances and luminescents. The high school students also got to speed date with UvA/VU students to obtain firsthand information on studying and living in Amsterdam. Teachers attended a workshop of the chemistry support team at Its Academy. The day ended with a get-together with chemistry lecturers and staff members of the Van 't Hoff institute for Molecular Sciences while enjoying drinks and snacks.