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Molecular Modeller of the Year 2019

A national chemistry competition for secondary school and sixth form students

The competition involves students building their own unique molecular model of the organic compound ethyl butanoate (a naturally occurring ester, which has a pineapple-like aroma). To build their model, students should use readily available materials that could be found around the house or which could be easily bought at the supermarket. We are looking for creativity, but we would want the model to be a true representation – for example, for it to have the correct 3D shape with bond angles that look accurate.

Students could make their model at their science club, during a class or at home, although we need a ‘lead’ teacher to administer the applications (see below).

The prize

We are looking for the most original, striking, imaginative and scientifically accurate model. The competition will be judged by our Admissions Tutor and a panel of undergraduate chemists at York, with the prizes as follows:

1st prize
For the student: A bespoke trophy (made by our glassblower Abby) and a molecular model set (of value around £100)
For the school/college: A bespoke trophy (made by our glassblower Abby) and three teacher demonstration molecular model kits (of total value around £240)

The student winner, together with the lead teacher, will be invited to the Department of Chemistry (we will cover travel costs up to £250), where they will have a tour of our teaching and research facilities, and chat to members of staff (including a free lunch). If possible, we envisage that the winning entry will be prominently displayed within the Department of Chemistry.

2nd prize
For the student: A molecular model set (of value around £75)
For the school/college: Two teacher demonstration molecular model kits (around £80 each)

3rd prize
For the student: A molecular model set (of value around £25)
For the school/college: One teacher demonstration molecular model kits (around £80)

Submitting an application

Students can submit their entry (one per student) by completing a short application form (below) and sending this through their lead teacher to our chemistry undergraduate admissions office.

As part of the application, the student is required to submit up to three photos of their model. We also encourage applicants to post their photos on social media (e.g. via their school Twitter/Instagram account), and we will post all of the entries on social media (e.g. using Padlet).

When uploading images please use the hashtag #chemcomp2019

The deadline for submitting an application is Friday 10 May 2019

Applying for a grant

  • A school or college can apply for a grant of £150 to purchase the items required for the student models. 
  • Up to 25 grants will be awarded on a first-come first-served basis to schools and colleges who currently work with the University of York Widening Participation Team, or those who are based in a neighbourhood with low participation to higher education (as evidenced by the school postcode – the number in the POLAR3 young participation quintile column must be 1 or 2 for you to qualify). 
  • All that is required is for the lead teacher (who will administer the applications) to confirm that the school wishes to participate in the competition and agrees to submit a minimum of 10 entries by the deadline.

We currently have grants available, so we welcome applications. Please contact Katrina Sayer,, noting the name of the lead teacher and the contact details of the school/college.

The deadline for applying for a grant is: 5pm on Friday 1 March 2019

Download an application form

Application Form Molecular Modelling Competition (MS Word , 13kb)