Students from North Halifax Grammar School win this year's Top of the Bench competition

A gold trophy

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A team of students from North Halifax Grammar School has won this year's Top of the Bench national final, held at the University of Loughborough, in March. Peter Richardson, Hannah Speed, James Nevison and Emily Whettlock took on 24 teams from around the country, overtaking teams from Northgate Grammar school, Derham in Norfolk (runners up) and Ffynone House School, Swansea (third place) to claim the coveted Frank Halliwell Trophy. The trophy was presented by head of chemistry at Loughborough, Professor Peter Warwick. The winning team also collected gift tokens and a £500 cheque for their school to spend on scientific equipment.

Aimed at 14-16-year olds, the competition is organised by the Royal Society of Chemistry's (RSC) education department. To reach the finals the teams, comprising four students (two from year 9, one from year 10 and one from year 11 - or equivalent) had to compete in regional heats, run by the RSC's local sections. In the final, the teams had to compete in a quiz designed to assess their knowledge of chemistry and do a practical activity against the clock. For her most outstanding contribution to the competition, Kimberley Spoors from Egglescliffe School was presented with the Jacqui Clee award.

In addition to the competitive events, the teams were treated to a lecture by Professor Stephen Fletcher on the origins of the universe and the chemistry of the planets and stars which have resulted from the Big Bang.