Johnson Matthey and Generating Genius give students an insight into university and industry level chemistry

generating genius

School students from socially disadvantaged backgrounds often fail to go to university and end up in less fulfilling jobs that deny them career satisfaction and deprive society of a promising pool of talent.

To help reverse this trend, Johnson Matthey joined forces with the 'Generating Genius' programme. The programme assists high achieving children and young people from backgrounds where there has been no tradition of entry to higher education, helping them to win places at top universities. There are two elements to the programme: Junior Genius for children aged 12–16 and Uni Genius, for those aged 16 plus. There is an emphasis on STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and maths).

An Educational Experience at Durham University

In August 2012 Johnson Matthey collaborated with UK charity Generating Genius, to create an educational experience for a group of students and give them insight into what industrial chemistry is all about. Eighteen students travelled to Durham University in the UK where they visited the university science labs over a two day period.

First they were shown a wide range of chemistry experiments to whet their appetite for science; then, on day two, they were charged with conducting a complicated experiment, with guidance from university staff and students. The experiment was far beyond their school chemistry level and gave them the thrill of clearing a bar that was raised much higher than they had expected. All of them managed it without problems and got the feel of what studying science is like.

As part of the experience, the school students visited Johnson Matthey's site in Billingham where there were more experiments, presentations and a site tour – so they could understand the progression from a university degree to working in the industry as a chemical engineer or scientist.

What did the Students Learn?

Jaevan Burrell, one of the students commented " Our stay at Durham University was rewarding in the sense that we had the opportunity experience science in a way which is applicable in the wider world. Not only did we enjoy the learning aspects of the stay, but we engaged in practical demonstrations based around real life industrial problems which cannot be achieved in a school setting. The university experience and insights into applications of the knowledge we were taught, courtesy of Johnson Matthey, were both excellent".

The visit included a walking tour of Durham in the evening and a night in college accommodation which provided a flavour of what it would be like to attend Durham University. Feedback from the group was positive, with the school students saying that the experience had given them valuable insight into what chemistry entails at both university and industry level – an indication that Generating Genius, with a little help from Johnson Matthey, was achieving its aims. Watch a video of the event here!