Shropshire students place third in prestigious competition

A group of four Shropshire students have been placed third in the Royal Society of Chemistry’s prestigious Top of the Bench annual competition.

It’s the second year in a row that Concord College students between the ages of 13 and 16 have achieved a third placement.

John Zhao, 16, Linda Garziera, 14, Jackie Gui, 13, and Noah Murray, 13, competed amongst 120 students from 30 different regions in the UK and Belgium.

And they were delighted to receive congratulatory messages from the Royal Society of Chemistry through director of education and professional practice Sarah Robertson.

She added: “Whilst the last year has been difficult for so many, it’s also been a time where chemical scientists have played a critical part in vaccine development, highlighting our message that a career in the chemical sciences really can help to tackle a global problem and change the world for the better.

“I hope that many who took part in this year’s Top of the Bench competition will consider this as they make their choices for their future study and career.”

She described the numbers competing as ‘fantastic’ due to school closures, disruptions and lockdowns with this year’s event, based on the theme of the periodic table, focusing on data and analysis.

After winning their regional round, the Concord College group progressed to the final which consisted of 30 teams, one from each region, and a challenging test paper.

It was the first time that the competition had taken place remotely online.

Linda, from form four, said: “In the regional round we communicated as a team via Microsoft Teams and used One Note as our shared collaboration space.

“The final consisted of us splitting up and completing a paper individually online.

"The test had three sections which offered challenging but year-appropriate questions and we had to try and finish them in just 30 minutes.”

She added: “It brings pride to tell my family and friends that I took part in this very acclaimed competition and not only to win the regional round, but to compete and be placed in the final round too.”

Concord College chemistry teacher Roger McBain said: “With this year’s different format, I had discussed with a number of people about the possibility of assisting our students where permitted.

“However, they did not want my help which made their success all the more laudable. It’s well done to all four.”

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