Kitchen Chemistry in France

The Kitchen Chemist spent the second week of January putting on shows and workshops in schools in the South of France. The British Council in France arranged a series of events in schools in Avignon and Marseilles as part of their Science in Schools programme.

Having returned to Paris from a trip teaching in South Korea I jumped on the TGV to Avignon and met up with the British Council representative at the station there. We found our quaint hotel after a (very) bracing walk from the station.

We were picked up the next day by the teachers from Collège Jean Brunet, after a quick reshuffle of the pupils to free up the correct classroom we were all set up to start at nine. The sessions for this week were a combination of a Kitchen Chemistry show and the determination of vitamin C in fruit juice that the Royal Society of Chemistry used for their Global Experiment in 2013. Fortunately the sessions were delivered in English.

Kitchen Chemistry in Avignon

Introducing the “little scientist” in Avignon.

Once we cleared up we set off for Collège Roumanille where lunch was provided. I’m sorry to say that I did not have a large appetite that day as my system was feeling a little fragile. The afternoon session was quite crowded but the results we obtained were very good. Then it was on the train to Marseilles where we visited a further seven high schools over the week. These were Collège Massenet, Collège Edgard Quinet, Collège Elsa Triolet, Collège Jacques Prévert, Collège Edmund Rostand, Collège Vallons des Pins and Collège Henri Wallon. These have been added to the Kitchen Chemistry map already.

Kitchen Chemistry in Avignon

Kitchen Chemistry in Marseille

Without exception the pupils were well prepared by both English and Chemistry staff. There were also lots of staff on hand to help out with the workshops and ensure that the pupils understood what was going on. The British Council representatives did a marvellous job of ensuring that I was taken to the relevant place at the relevant time. The public transport system stepped in when a car waiting for me broke down. The box of additional equipment also found its way around faultlessly and quite independently from me.

The official reception at Aix

The official reception at Aix

Wednesday afternoon was not taken up with a presentation so there was an opportunity to wander round and take some photos of Marseilles. In the evening I was hosted at an official reception in the local Department of Education in Aix. There were some short speeches and lovely food (of course), then a very interesting ride back to my hotel next to the Vieux Port in Marseilles.

I had a great time, met some lovely people, and I look forward to being able to work with the British Council in France again.