Lower Sixth Chemists developed their organic synthesis and practical skills this week by synthesising Aspirin. Originally made from oil of wintergreen, an extract from willow tree bark, pupils followed the synthesis pathway and then purified it. Their product will be analysed further over the coming weeks and will face the ultimate test next term when it goes into an Infrared Spectroscopy machine for analysis.

It was a busy but thoroughly enjoyable morning in the Lab, giving pupils an insight into the complex multi-stage pathways required to produce pure samples of a drug. With modern equipment the process was relatively straightforward, however, pupils also gained a much greater appreciation for those who managed to synthesise the drug over one hundred years ago.