Current Chemistry Investigators (CCI) is an informal education project about the science of energy storage and chemical analysis. The 2019 Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded for the discovery of the Lithium-Ion battery, a technology that has revolutionized modern society! These batteries are now in our phones, cars, laptops and houses. However, modern batteries need chemical elements from all over the world to store energy. We are also in the middle of an energy crisis and we need to find more efficient ways to store and transport energy to make better use of renewable energy.

Current Chemistry Investigators (CCI) provides students, teachers and the public with hands-on activities based on simple electrochemistry and electroanalytical concepts through tangible scientific role models. It also provides Irish researchers with valuable and beneficial experience in science communication, to help them develop skills to share their research to wider audiences. Using an Irish context, this project will create an appreciation for the role of chemistry research in everyday life, increasing interest in this vital area for the benefit of everyone’s future.

Meet the Team

Project Manager and Training

Dr. John O’Donoghue, TCD and RSC

Technical Officer

Mary Connolly, ATU Sligo

Graphic Designer

Inigo Iribarren, TCD

Conor Harford

Photographer, Freelance. Find here on Instagram

Project Coordinator

Dr. Fiona McArdle, ATU Sligo

Schools Coordinator

Dr. Natalia Garcia Domenech, TCD

Development and Promotion

Dr. Michelle Browne, Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin

Education and Ethics

Dr. Niamh McGoldrick, TCD

Schools and Development

Dr. Yvonne Lang, ATU Sligo

Postgraduate Support

Áine Coogan, TCD

School Workshops

Electrochemistry is a relatively small section on the Leaving Cert Chemistry course and doesn’t really feature on the Junior Cycle Science course or at primary level. But as the world becomes ever more reliant on energy storage technology and rapid analytical techniques, we need more electrochemists to match the rising demand for these technologies. We know from research that electrochemistry is one of the most difficult topics for students to grasp.

We also know that it is one of the least answered questions on both the Leaving Cert chemistry exam and the Chemistry Olympiad Ireland entrance exam, and those who do attempt electrochemistry questions score very poorly. In fact, it is one of the worst answered topics across the entire Leaving Cert Chemistry exam. As a result, we may be drifting towards a potentially huge problem for our future energy and analytical demands.

We have designed our CCI workshop around “Electro-Analytical Chemistry” where the topic or electrochemistry is subtly introduced through familiar chemical analysis techniques. TY/LC students will need to figure out what happened to a fictional battery powered car that went on fire by analyzing the electrolyte with a conductivity meter. It contains plenty of lab skills like making standards, using pipettes, drawing a calibration graph, figuring out an unknown as well as theory like qualitative and quantitative analysis, ions in solution, electrolytes, ion-exchange etc. We will bring everything with us, including 10 conductivity meters so students can work in small groups. We have designed the workshop for a 1 hour timetable but we can extend it for a 80 min slot if needed.

This workshop is a great opportunity for students to use professional lab equipment and learn about the chemistry of batteries as well as chemical analysis. We hope these workshops will make electrochemistry a more interesting and engaging topic, as well as encourage more students into this area of research to benefit everyone’s future. Workshops are run by trained PhD Researchers who will happily talk to your students about their research and day-to-day activities. This interaction provides your students with locally based and tangible role models as well as providing them with context for different parts of the curriculum depending on the research areas being discussed.