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Bond chemists win prestigious Royal Society of Chemistry education prize

Chemistry Education Team Headshot

A team of scientists from Bond University has been named winner of the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Horizon Prizes for Education.

The ‘Bond Chemical Education Team’ was chosen by the RSC’s prestigious panel of judges for the development of gamified virtual laboratory experiments that enhance student engagement, laboratory self-efficacy and theoretical understanding.

The group – made up of Dr Stephanie Schweiker, Dr Stephan Levonis and Dr Amanda Tauber – created a website hosting a free, gamified laboratory designed to make science education accessible to all.

‘The Virtual Scientist’ is a web page giving school and university students access to virtual lab experiments, combining 360-degree tours and embedded interactive videos which students can navigate in their own time. The high level of interactivity, gamification, and step-by-step instruction provides a unique and genuine lab-teaching environment, with added accessibility of digital resources. 

The Bond Chemical Education Team have now become winners of the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Horizon Prizes for Education, for their outstanding work to ensure that all pupils are given the opportunity to fully engage with science. 

Upon receiving the prize, Dr Stephan Levonis said: “Overall, we feel elated. This award gives us the acknowledgment that our hard work and dedication has paid off, and also gives us the drive to continue pushing the boundaries of teaching methods used in chemical education.”

Dr Helen Pain, Chief Executive of the Royal Society of Chemistry, said: “It’s of vital importance that we recognise the crucial role educators play in the advancement of the sciences, and that we commend their ability to inspire and nurture the next generation of bright young minds so that they can go on to make new discoveries and innovations.

“Society faces many challenges, and educators give us the tools we need to advance our understanding of the world around us and solve many of the problems we encounter. The Bond Chemical Education Team’s work to reduce barriers to chemistry education demonstrates an outstanding commitment to the industry, and it is our honour to celebrate their considerable contribution.”

Gill Reid, President of the Royal Society of Chemistry, said: “For many of us as chemists our teachers were our inspiration – their influence in driving the next generation of amazing scientists cannot be underestimated. That’s why I’m so proud of the winners of the Horizon Prizes for Education, each of whom demonstrates an infectious passion for learning that sparks young minds to do amazing things.

“This year’s winners set exemplary examples of the impact this can make; it’s no exaggeration to say their successes will be felt for generations to come.”

Celebrating ground-breaking innovations and initiatives that mark a step-change in science education, the Horizon Prizes for Education highlight recent initiatives that are set to make a real impact within the field of education. These could include teaching programmes or techniques, research breakthroughs, innovative technologies and more.

The Royal Society of Chemistry’s prizes have recognised excellence in the chemical sciences for more than 150 years. In 2019, the organisation announced the biggest overhaul of this portfolio in its history, designed to better reflect modern scientific work and culture.

For more information about the RSC’s prizes portfolio, visit rsc.li/prizes.

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