A Leicester teacher has been named winner of the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Early Career Prize for Excellence in Secondary and Further Education in recognition of his contributions to chemistry education.
Based at Beauchamp City Sixth Form, Dr Cameron Carpenter-Warren won the prize for demonstrating passion and enthusiasm for chemistry, as well as inspiration in communicating these to students, and supporting them to explore the subject in greater depth. All the winners join a prestigious list of past winners in the RSC’s prize portfolio, 60 of whom have gone on to win Nobel Prizes for their work, including 2022 Nobel Laureate Carolyn Bertozzi and 2019 Nobel laureate John B Goodenough.
Dr Carpenter-Warren also receives £3000, a medal and a certificate.
After receiving the prize, Dr Carpenter-Warren said: “I feel incredibly lucky to have colleagues and students who are thoughtful enough to put me up for such an award and say nice things about me. To have my efforts recognised by the RSC feels great, and it has definitely flooded me with a fresh wave of motivation at this key time when the marking is piling up and the nights are drawing in!”
Cameron teaches A-level chemistry full-time. He has also been tasked with challenging the students at his school above and beyond the A-level curriculum. To do this, he has established ties with local universities to give students the experience of using specialist techniques and equipment not available in school and hear live talks about cutting-edge science from experts in the field.
Cameron has also designed and resourced a custom course, which he delivers in a series of weekly after-school sessions. Each session includes a short talk about some fun and current chemistry, not covered in the national curriculum, and then a problem-solving session based on the topic.
The aim of these sessions is to motivate students by showing them the amazing range of chemistry happening right now, as well as giving them the opportunity to develop valuable lateral thinking skills that will help them succeed in interviews and national Olympiad competitions.
Cameron has written and resourced two interactive murder mysteries, where students must interview suspects and order and interpret analytical tests, over a period of weeks, to identify the murderer(s). As well as making learning fun, these activities emphasise the real-world application of knowledge, showing students how chemistry can be used as a tool to solve complex problems.
Dr Helen Pain, Chief Executive of the Royal Society of Chemistry, said: “The chemical sciences are at the forefront of tackling a range of challenges facing our world. From fundamental chemistry to cutting-edge innovations, the work that chemical scientists do has an important role to play in building our future.
“The inspiration, innovation and dedication of those who work in education is fundamental to the progress of the chemical sciences – shaping the future and setting our young people up to tackle the challenges and the opportunities facing our society and our planet.
“Dr Carpenter-Warren’s work demonstrates an outstanding commitment to chemistry education, and it is our honour to celebrate their considerable contribution.”
The Excellence in Education Prizes celebrate inspirational, innovative, and dedicated people working in primary, secondary, further education and higher education – including teachers, technicians and more. These prizes recognise a wide range of skills – from curriculum design to effective teaching, and from personal development to working culture. This category includes specific prizes for teams and for those in the early stages of their career.