Young Richmond chemist has winning formula

Betsie Scott Hall.

A sixth form student, who aims to become a research chemist, has been ranked top in the country on the highly-acclaimed Best Choice Chemistry programme.

Betsie Scott Hall, 17, a Year 13 student at Richmond Sixth Form College, uses the programme to consolidate and further her knowledge in topics covered in class and to prepare for subjects that are still to be covered.

Kevin Sandell, Betsie’s chemistry teacher, said: “Betsie is and always has been very enthusiastic about science and is very focussed on understanding the challenges of chemistry, both in school and in her free time.

“She will excel with the challenges and puzzles she is set in higher education and we could very well hear of great things from her.

Best Choice was developed by Dr Sheila Woodgate of Auckland University in New Zealand and is used by many independent and state schools across the UK.

It is a resource for students to learn independently, featuring notes and follow-up questions and is broken down into key parts of the syllabus so students and their teachers can target exactly what they focus their attention on.

Betsie, from Richmond, who is studying A-levels in chemistry, physics, mathematics and classics, is also doing an extended project qualification on the extent of responsibility of the workers on the Manhattan project for making the atom bomb.

Betsie said: “My fascination with the chemistry was catalysed in Year 7 when I first learned about the periodic table.

“Since then it’s been my favourite subject, but it was only at GCSE when I became driven in it.

“Chemistry appeals to me because it’s such a limitless subject, and has the ability to evolve with even the most molecular of discoveries.

“I find it really interesting just how much the subject has developed from its origins in alchemy, and what really fascinates me is the question of the permanence of some of our theories in chemistry. When will new technology overthrow what we thought we knew?”

Betsie currently enjoys organic chemistry the most because it is the area in which the utility of chemistry is best displayed. She finds drawing the diagrams of the molecules and mechanisms rather satisfying!

Betsie is hoping to study chemistry at university and then would love to work as an experimental chemist.

More specifically, she hopes to work in environmental chemistry, perhaps working towards solving the problem of renewable energy. Betsie is also interested in nuclear chemistry, so working on making nuclear fusion power plants a reality would be ideal for her.

On discovering that she was ranked as the highest-achieving student nationally in the Best Choice programme, Betsie said: “I was quite surprised.

“I have been using it quite a lot over lockdown as a more relaxed method of revising previous topics, but I never really took notice of the leaderboard as I didn’t know my own identification code. I suppose I didn’t realise just how much I had completed of it until then.”