Top Cambridge honour for RGS chemistry students

SIXTH form students at Ripon Grammar School are celebrating their best results ever in a national chemistry challenge set by University of Cambridge academics.

One student won the highly coveted Roentgenium award, which places him in the top 0.59% of over 10,000 students from more than 600 schools throughout the country who entered.

His fellow sixth formers won six gold, eight silver and nine copper awards in the prestigious competition this year, securing the highest success rate the chemistry department has seen.

Sam Mulligan’s score places him among the most elite chemistry students in the country, with only 60 out of the 10,130 students who entered achieving the level above gold.

As a result, the 17-year-old, from Ripon, has been invited to a summer chemistry camp at the University of Cambridge, where he will attend advanced lectures and perform experiments in the university laboratories.

Studying maths, further maths, physics and chemistry at A-level, with ambitions to study maths at university, he says he enjoyed the challenge of the competition: “I was delighted to win the top award as I knew it was very competitive.”

The competition involved a two-hour paper with fiendishly difficult chemistry problems, designed to stretch and challenge students, taking them significantly beyond the A-level syllabus and encouraging them to think about science in the way they would at university.

Just over 1,000 students nationally gained gold, putting them in the top 10% in the country. Those who gained silver were in the top 20%, with copper in the top 34%.

RGS head of chemistry Chris Shortman said he was very proud of all the students who took part: “These are our best results ever, and a particular well done to Sam on winning theRoentgenium Award*.

“The Cambridge Chemistry Challenge is formidable, and so to receive an award reflects the resilience and genuine interest our students have in chemistry.”

*A chemistry joke, as Roentgenium is a newly discovered element in the periodic table that follows gold in the sequence down Group 11: copper, silver, gold.