Key Information

Year of Project: 18-19

Number of student partners: 3

Number of staff partners: 2

Length of project: Two weeks

Weekly time commitment for student: Full-time engagement.


Department of Chemistry

Staff partners: Dr Luke Delmas and Dr Jakub Radzikowkdi

Student partners:  Charlotte Li, Marvin Alberts, and Solomon Asghar

Project area: Curriculum Development

Background for project

The Chemical Kitchen uses culinary practice as a non-threatening parallel to the chemistry laboratory, allowing Y1 BSc chemistry students to identify, practise and refine essential skills without the danger of being seen by their supervisors and peers to be under-performing in their chosen field of study. As a new and innovative module for all year 1 students, engaging with current students as partners in the key stage of content development was imperative to ensure the module was accessible and as valuable as possible for students to meet the aims of students meeting the learning outcomes.Chemical Kitchen



At the start of the project, the student partners were provided with equipment, materials, and initial ideas for food experiments which they explored with very few limitations. In some cases, together we developed experiments much further than we had planned ourselves. The students highlighted to staff that some of the proposed experiments were either too difficult or repetitive for Y1 students and removed them from the pool of suggestions. Having the students’ perspective in these discussions was extremely useful to ‘calibrate’ the level of the course. It was interesting to discuss with them what they found most exciting about individual experiments, and to work with them on maximizing both enjoyment and teaching value.

The StudentShapers helped us to narrow down a broad range of proposed activities for the module, combining maximum enjoyment and learning"

Luke Delmas

Staff partner

Once the students identified their preferred activities which should be incorporated into the Chemical Kitchen course, we held a focus group session to generate suggestions for creating a clear, student-friendly framework for the 3 day course, highlighting that excellent organization was key to avoiding the incoming students feeling overwhelmed. We spoke about inclusivity and diversity and agreed there should be a wide degree of choice in the activities. The student partners opted to move towards general, open ended recipes which individual students could customise and personalize, and this was reflected in the varied products they isolated.

The project also considered typical student culture at Imperial and the problems of the unequal student load often associated with group work. We agreed on a good balance of group and individual work that gave everyone a chance to both work in a team but also gain experience individually. A useful contribution from the StudentShapers here was to have collaborative segments where, while students worked individually (with some group discussion), their individual elements came together at the end of the activity to make a complete dish such that students were still all working towards a common goal creating a sense of collegiality.

Benefits to student learning and further outcomes 

The Chemical Kitchen will allow students to have a smoother transition between secondary school labs and labs at university"

Student partner


During the project the students engaged with many teaching fellows in the department who visited the kitchen space while they were working, allowing them to showcase their work. The longer-term goal is to rollout this project to other departments at the College so having student input in this pilot stage in the chemistry department is crucial to the project’s success. Overall the contribution of students was invaluable to ensure this innovative course is inclusive, educationally valuable and as fit for purpose as possible for when it is rolled out for the first time.

By the end of the project, the students concluded that ‘the lab was suitable, enjoyable and easy to follow for first year students at Imperial … in addition to the genuinely fun aspect of this lab, the Chemical Kitchen will allow students to have a smoother transition between secondary school labs and labs at university … [and] has the potential to significantly shape the experience of first years at Imperial’.