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Engaging New Audiences with Green and Sustainable Chemistry

University of the Third Age (U3A) groups in Nottinghamshire found out more about Green and Sustainable Chemistry and the solutions developed at the University of Nottingham.

The School of Chemistry at the University of Nottingham has an ambitious programme of science outreach activities, focusing in particular on raising awareness of green and sustainable chemistry – a key research focus at the university, in a City which prides itself on leading the green revolution.

Although groups of eager schoolchildren can often be found exploring the hands-on experiments on discovery days, the School also try to invite in a diverse range of visitors to find out more.

Founded in 1982, the UK U3A movement is part of an international organisation which aims to encourage groups of retired and semi-retired people to come together and engage in educational and leisure activities.

Almost 200 U3A members from across Nottinghamshire have visited the GlaxoSmithKline Carbon Neutral Laboratory on Jubilee Campus - the world’s first laboratory designed to be carbon neutral over its lifetime.

The GlaxoSmithKline Carbon Neutral Laboratory on the University of Nottingham’s Jubilee Campus

In addition to hosting researchers addressing challenges including single use plastics and looking into sustainable ways of producing the anti-malarial drug Artemisinin, the Laboratory aims to be a catalyst for new industry collaborations and to act as a regional hub for chemistry education.

The half-day U3A visits included a tour of the building, an overview of Green and Sustainable Chemistry and why it matters, and presentations on their research from world leading experts such as Sir Martyn Poliakoff and Professor Steve Howdle. There is also an opportunity for members to find out about the positive changes they can make in their own lives and communities.

Following fantastic feedback, the School of Chemistry plans to create a regular, more interactive programme including activities and experiments rather than one-off visits.

“My understanding of how chemistry affects our daily lives has increased enormously because of this talk. Thank you.”

U3A group visitor feedback, June 2019.