Exams giving you a headache? Kensington student Milan has the solution…

In a quiet corner of our school’s chemistry lab, a remarkable synthesis unfolded as our A-Level Chemistry student Milan successfully created aspirin, marking a significant educational achievement and his final organic synthesis at Kensington School. This feat not only demonstrates the practical application of chemistry but also links back to a rich history of one of the world's most widely used medications.

The goal was to synthesise aspirin from salicylic acid and acetic anhydride, demonstrating both chemical synthesis and purification techniques. The process began with the mixing of salicylic acid with acetic anhydride, a reaction catalysed by the addition of a few drops of concentrated phosphoric acid. This reaction forms acetylsalicylic acid and acetic acid. Milan meticulously monitored the reaction, ensuring the conditions were just right for the transformation. After the reaction mixture was prepared, the next critical step was purification, which was achieved through recrystallisation. The final touch was confirming the purity of the product through melting point analysis, which closely matched the literature values for pure aspirin. The successful synthesis and purification of aspirin in a school lab setting are highly commendable. It highlights not only Milan’s technical skills but also his ability to engage with complex scientific concepts and historical contexts. Milan’s success is a testament to his dedication and tenacity with which he approaches his studies in chemistry.

This project goes beyond the lab bench. It offers a profound understanding of how chemistry touches lives—turning simple ingredients into a product that millions depend on for pain relief and heart health. As the Head of Science, Ms Barnes pointed out “This is a classic example of how historical knowledge and modern techniques converge in education to inspire the next generation of scientists.” As we continue to celebrate such achievements across the Science Department and the wider school community, we are reminded of the potent mix of curiosity, dedication, and education that drives our students to explore and excel.

Congratulations to Milan on this scientific endeavor, proving once again that Kensington School is a hub of budding innovation and intellectual growth.