Sixth Form PharmacistsOver the last three weeks I have been working with sixteen of Mr Flage’s Sixth Form students on the laboratory synthesis of Aspirin. This was one of the first drugs to come into common usage and is still one of the most researched drugs in the world today.
Two thousand four hundred years ago, on the Greek island of Kos, Hippocrates brewed the bark of the willow tree and administered it for pain relief. It was not until the nineteenth century that the substance that gave this pain relief was extracted and identified. The Latin name for Willow is Salix and from this the substance was named salicylic acid. It is this chemical that the Sixth Form worked with, when they made aspirin crystals.
Making and analysing aspirin involves a wide range of complex technical procedures, such as an esterification reaction using very hazardous chemicals, recrystallisation, titration, colour analysis and determining melting point. All of the students displayed exceptional practical skills and ability throughout every procedure. Here are some of their comments:
Kyla Niedzielski: ‘The practicals we do, are incredibly useful and give us a greater understanding. We can go into depth about what we are using.’
Jamie Nias: ‘The practicals were very easy to follow, despite seeming hard at first.’
Ryan Gilmore: ‘Another fun, engaging science lesson!’ Tanya Cook: ‘Out of all the experiments, making aspirin was the best by far. Each stage was interesting and informative and the methods of testing the purity were accurate. All in all it was both fun and educational!’