Top of the Bench

Fuel your students’ curiosity and excitement with our annual schools’ chemistry competition

With the help of our members, we’ve been organising and running this national competition for more than 20 years. As a result, hundreds of students aged 14–16 have had the opportunity to put their practical and teamwork skills into action.

Cancellation of the Top of the Bench Final 2020

In light of developments with the coronavirus (Covid-19), and after careful consideration of the potential risks, we have unfortunately had to take the decision to cancel the Top of the Bench 2020 final on Saturday 21 March.

This was not an easy decision for us to make, however, we believe it to be the right course of action given the range of areas teams are travelling from and the various modes of transport required to reach the venue. The health and wellbeing – and the protection of schoolchildren and teachers – is our number one priority, along with a collective effort to slow the spread of the virus.

While we appreciate that this is disappointing for all the students participating, we hope that you will understand that we have a duty of care for all of the attendees.

Unfortunately, at present, we will be unable to rearrange this event for a later date, as we do not know how long the current situation will persist. Equally, moving forward, the focus for the Year 11 team members has to be external examinations.

We would like to thank everyone for their hard work in the competition this year. All students will receive certificates to confirm their qualification for the national final.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any further questions

Further information on coronavirus and RSC Education events

Glassware on periodic table

Source: © Shutterstock


About the competition

Regional heats

Run from October to January, our regional heats are organised and funded by our Local Sections. As a result, the format of the heats vary across regions but they are open to all schools.

The heats are accessible to students with additional needs and we encourage teams that are broadly representative of their school’s gender balance.

The winning team from each heat will progress to a national final.

Teams must consist of:

  • two students from year 9 (in Scotland one from S2)
  • one from Year 10 (in Scotland two from S3)
  • one from Year 11 (in Scotland one from S4)

The final

The national final is held in the spring each year and takes place at a UK university.

Activities on the day include:

  • an individual test of factual chemical knowledge
  • a team practical exercise
  • an interactive lecture
  • a prize giving ceremony

There is also a session for teachers to explore resources and ideas for the classroom with one of our Education Coordinators.

First prize is awarded to the best overall school performance, with five teams receiving runners up prizes. The Jacqui Clee Award is given to the student who has demonstrated an outstanding individual contribution to the day.

To find out more or apply to take part please contact your Local Section secretary

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