Page 13 - PERIODIC 2016
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T
                         heoretical Chemistry


                         Made Easy, Through Golf



             Tim Naginey and Dan Tracey from the DPhil training   successful reaction.
             programme in Theory and Modelling in Chemical Sciences,   This proved to be a
             explain how they increase understanding of their field of work.  long process, with many
                                                                 complications, but we
             The inaugural (2014-15) cohort of the EPSRC  Centre for
             Doctoral Training in Theory and Modelling in Chemical   succeeded in the end!
             Sciences (TMCS) have worked hard in preparing an exciting   For added interactivity,
             new outreach activity aimed at a wider audience. Theoretical   players used a Nintendo
             and Computational Chemistry sometimes has a low profile   Wii remote as a golf club
             even among university students. It is difficult to explain our   can see their putt on a
             research and its usefulness to others, let alone children, so we   big screen.
             saw this as a worthwhile challenge to overcome!     We took the game to the
                                                                 Cheltenham Science Festival in June 2016, where we engaged
             Beginning at a workshop on science outreach from colleagues   with many people of all ages, with some or no understanding
             at the University of Southampton, led by Dr Steve Dorney,   of science. When members of the public played our game,
             we brainstormed ideas in our field that we could present to   we explained the theoretical concept of PESs, how chemists
             the public. The winning idea was to represent potential energy   use computers to perform PES calculations and simulations,
             surfaces (PESs) as putting greens in a game of putt putt golf.   and how this is useful for ‘real’ laboratory experiments. This
             The position of the golf ball on the surface corresponds to a   discussion naturally flowed into a broader discussion of the
             certain configuration of atoms. By putting the ball along the   usefulness of Theoretical and Computational Chemistry in
             green to the golf hole, we represent a reaction path to a stable   everyday life, drawing on concrete examples.
             minimum on the PES – that is, a chemical reaction that forms a
                                      favourable molecule.       A highlight of the festival for us was when a group of school
                                                                 teachers expressed great interest in using our game as a
                                      Since the workshop, we have   classroom teaching aid. We have also been encouraged ourselves
                                      been developing this concept   to dream big – applying for grants and awards, setting up a
                                      as a computer game in which   website, and taking the game to further stages.
                                      a successful putt signifies a


                G        reen Labs for a Sustainable Future





             The Department of Chemistry has an award-winning team of   temperature of freezers and recycling non-hazardous waste, all
             staff and researchers dedicated to promoting sustainability   add up and help to reduce the impact of our actions.
             through the Green Impact Scheme, a national initiative   We should all be working towards sustainability in laboratories,
             established by the National Union of Students.  Team   guiding future generations of chemists to respect their
             members Sue Henderson and Jean-Charles Buffet explain.
                                                                environment and improve their way of life.
             Sustainability in laboratories is much more than a concept;
             it should be our way of life. As chemists (inorganic, organic   L-R: Green Impact Team members Sue Henderson, Jean-Charles
             or physical), we should always strive towards precision and   Buffet, Theresa Scharbert and Siyu Chen with Professor Donal
             perfection. However, nowadays this should always go hand in   Bradley, Head of Oxford University MPLS Division.
             hand with sustainability.
             The Chemistry Department has a large carbon and
             environmental footprint, with high energy consumption.
             There is a need to target sustainability; to encourage a change
             in behaviour. In 2016 the Chemistry Department Green
             Impact team was awarded Gold awards both overall and for
             laboratories. A small team is working hard to make small
             changes that add up to make a big difference. However,
             everybody can help: students, staff; we are all in it together.
             Small actions like closing fume hood sashes, switching off
             equipment, lights etc when not needed, increasing the


                                                                                                                13
                                                                                                 Periodic
                                                            The Magazine of the Department of Chemistry
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