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.

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

Find my local section

Past papers

Use these previous Top of the Bench questions to prepare your students for the competition.

recycling materials

Top of the bench 2019: materials practical challenge

Test students’ understanding of materials chemistry and recycling using this practical activity from our Top of the bench competition

material swatches

Top of the bench 2019: materials (younger paper)

Test students’ understanding of materials chemistry using these questions from our Top of the bench competition

cardboard materials

Top of the bench 2019: materials (older paper)

Test students’ understanding of materials chemistry using these questions from our Top of the bench competition

Image

Top of the bench quiz: energy (younger paper)

Test students’ understanding of concepts in energy using these questions from our Top of the bench competition. Use the papers as a whole, or take the parts relevant to the topic you’re teaching. We’ve also included some questions on general chemistry knowledge.

More past papers