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Student Volunteers with groups of local Beavers

As we celebrate National Student Volunteering Week, it was great to see a team of Durham University students recently welcome local groups of Beavers, Cubs and Brownies to the Department of Chemistry as part of the ChemSG scheme. Funded by the Royal Society of Chemistry and run on an entirely voluntary basis, ChemSG has been running for many years to promote chemistry to Scouting and Guiding groups and schools across the region.

Working with more than 1,000 young people

Lydia Kitchen and Isabel Dungworth, who led the visit, have been involved with ChemSG since their first year at Durham and have worked with more than 1,000 young people in the past year.

Even during COVID, when it was difficult to bring groups into the labs, they took the scheme on the road and were also part of the science fair at Durham marketplace, attracting huge crowds with an intriguing combination of slime and unpoppable bubbles.

Exciting demonstrations and hands-on experiments

When the young people come into the chemistry department, they’re treated to fun demonstrations using dry ice and liquid nitrogen and then they have the chance to go into the undergraduate labs and do some experiments themselves.

They are rewarded for their efforts with ChemSG’s own Super Scientist badge to proudly display on their uniforms or blankets.

Having completed a 4-year master’s degree in chemistry and now working towards a PGCE to become a chemistry teacher, Izzy explains why she’s always been keen to be part of ChemSG, “having both come from state schools to Durham we think it is really important that local children get the chance to visit the university and get to participate in activities that introduce them to the excitement of science and raise their own aspirations. I love seeing how much the children enjoy it, and they ask wonderful questions too!”

Pictures from the ChemSG visit to Durham

Part of the community

Lydia, who is currently studying for a PhD in biology after completing her undergraduate degree in natural sciences, agrees, “it’s lovely to meet people of all ages and from different backgrounds across the region. When we first arrived at Durham it really made us feel at home and part of the community. It is also wonderful to see how excited the young people are about concepts we might take for granted when in the lab every day.”

Volunteering at Durham

In her role as president of Durham University Student Volunteering and Outreach (DUSVO), Izzy would encourage others to get involved and reap the benefits of being part of such an inspiring community.

Volunteering is clearly in important part of student life, with over 3,000 registered student volunteers and more 90 registered student-led projects, community partners, colleges, and departments providing over 100 opportunities for people to get involved with.

Durham University Classical Theatre are currently offering workshop opportunities for children’s classes as they prepare for their forthcoming production of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, with free tickets available for under-sixteen-year olds.

This follows the visit of pupils from Whitburn Church of England Academy to the Assembly Rooms for a backstage tour to see ‘how the magic works’ ahead of their school production of The Addams Family.

Pupils from three North East Primary schools were welcomed also by staff and students to recorded their own Christmas single in the state-of-the-art recording studio at Durham University’s Collingwood College.

Find out more

Learn more about the volunteering work at Durham University

Get in touch with the volunteering team

Get in touch with ChemSG on social media or email

Read about the visit of Whitburn Church of England Academy to the Assembly Rooms

Book tickets for DUCT’s production of Twelfth Night

Watch the video from the recording of Do They Know It's Christmas at Collingwood College