There were chemistry experiments and talks about light on the agenda when upper secondary classes came together for Marie Curie Day.
“We’ll find out a little more about what studying chemistry at university involves,” says Frida Backman, who is currently in the second year of the natural sciences programme at Mikael Elias Upper Secondary School in Gothenburg.
Twice each semester, the University of Gothenburg and Chalmers University of Technology invite upper secondary classes to Marie Curie Day, and this year’s first such day was held on Thursday 19 March. During the day, talks are interspersed with practical chemistry experiments. Camilla Forsman is a research engineer at the University of Gothenburg’s Department of Chemistry and Molecular Biology, and is responsible for the experiments. A dozen or so pupils are seated around the large, rectangular table in the laboratory room. In front of them are conical flasks, beakers, pipettes and titration equipment.
CAMILLA GOES THROUGH the experiment on the board, draws the equilibrium reactions and explains levels and concentrations. This particular experiment aims to determine the oxygen content of water. The pupils listen attentively.
“Chemistry is interesting, but a little abstract,” says Emmi Olsson, who hopes to become a maths teacher and is in the second year of the natural sciences programme at Mikael Elias Upper Secondary School. “So it’s fun to come here and see what you can do with it and what it’s like in reality.”
Her classmate Frida Backman thinks the experiments are fun, but is actually more interested in sociology and economics.
“But on days like these, I’m inspired to study sciences,” she admits.
ARIA TARKESHI, WHO is also studying the same programme, sits next to the girls. He is working with his classmate Linus Linderoth. They both recognise the method for calculating equilibrium reactions from their chemistry lessons at school.
“The calculations aren’t that hard, because we recognise them,” says Aria. “And experiments like these are fun.”
He hasn’t decided what he wants to study after school yet, but is leaning towards the sciences. Linus also plans to study science.
“Maths and physics are more my thing, but this is interesting too,” he adds.
MARIE SKLODOWSKA CURIE
1867 Born in Warsaw, Poland.
1891 Moved to Paris, where she studied and carried out research.
1903 Won the Nobel Prize in Physics together with Henri Becquerel and her husband Pierre Curie for their research into radioactivity. She was the first female Nobel Laureate.
1911 Received her second Nobel Prize, this time in chemistry for discovering the elements radium and polonium. She was the first person to receive a second Nobel Prize. To this day, she is the only woman to have won two Nobel Prizes.
1934 Died from leukaemia, probably caused by the ionising radiation to which she was exposed in her work.