The Spectroscopy in a Suitcase project continues to expand and improve

Students get hands on experience of using cutting edge research equipment

Students get hands on experience of using cutting edge research equipment

Through the RSC's Spectroscopy in a Suitcase (SIAS) scheme, school students gain hands-on experience of spectroscopic techniques and their applications. From small beginnings, over the last 5 years SIAS has become increasingly popular and well travelled. In 2011 alone, over 9000 students participated in SIAS events. The number of universities involved in delivering SIAS has increased from 7 in 2010 to 19 at the beginning of 2012.

Delivered by postgraduate students and outreach experts, these events have a strong emphasis on encouraging school pupils to consider studying chemistry at university and the possible career opportunities which are available. In addition, the direct contact with postgraduates gives A level students the opportunity to ask questions about life at university.

SIAS events are popular and always attract positive feedback:

  • 'Loved the spectroscopy activities, being a smaller group made it easier to participate in activities. Liked printouts:)'
  • 'The activity was interesting and fun, students were helpful and fun to talk to'
  • 'I liked the fact that we were allowed to use high-spec, university equipment with a very hands on approach'

In July, two sets of equipment were set up in Wales in partnership with the universities of Cardiff and Bangor, and to support this expansion, the accompanying resource packs were also translated into Welsh. The SIAS programme has also now been rolled out in Scotland (University of Edinburgh) and Northern Ireland (Queen's University Belfast) thanks to funding from the RSC and the Wolfson Foundation. Now SIAS reaches every part of the UK. 

As of January 2012 due to the huge demand for SIAS events, Imperial College London, the University of Plymouth and the University of Bradford have all joined the SIAS programme. It is hoped that these new members will be running SIAS events by the end of February 2012.


As part of the SIAS programme a SpectraSchool website that has been produced. This provides an online database of IR, NMR and mass spectra for a range of organic compounds, and information about spectroscopy in general. This online spectroscopy resource is currently being redeveloped for release in July 2012, when it will include further detail on a multitude of spectroscopic methods and include animations, videos and an interactive spectra tool. 

The new SpectraSchool website

The new SpectraSchool website

Full details of the scheme and the locations of the equipment can be obtained from the Spectroscopy in a Suitcase website. SIAS is supported by the HE STEM programme.