Leinster School Workshops

Our Trinity College Dublin team have been extremely busy this academic year, with over 30 schools visited all over Leinster and some in Munster too. Here are a collection of photos from some of our most recent school visits to CBA Naas in Co. Kildare, Kilkenny College, Temple Carrig School in Greystones, Co. Wicklow, St. Leo’s in Carlow, Coolmine Community College in west Dublin, Blackrock College in South Dublin and Clongowes College in Co. Kildare.

The CCI workshops provide hands on practical experience, real-world context for the curriculum and tangible role models. Thank you to all of our PhD researchers for giving up their time to inspire the next generation of scientists. Thank you also to all the teachers for partnering with us and inviting us into their school and lab. And finally, thank you to all the support staff in Trinity College Dublin and ATU Sligo for making these workshops possible every week.

Wrapping up for the Academic Year

Our first ever full academic year is now coming to an end with the last few workshops running through the month of May. It’s incredible that this time last year we were running our first pilot workshops in a handful of schools. From those tentative first steps we took on board all the advice provided to us by the great teachers involved in our pilots and improved every part of the workshop before we launched it officially in Sept 2022.

Since then, it has gone from strength to strength. We will be doing a wrap up post about the whole academic year soon, but for now here are some great pictures by the ATU Sligo team of their recent visit to Manorhamilton in lovely Leitrim. Well done to the PhD ambassadors from both institutions for running high quality workshops all over Ireland this year!

UCC Chemistry Collaboration

At the end of April we travelled down south for the first of many collaborations with the University College Cork (UCC) School of Chemistry for the UCC Access Programme. We ran our CCI secondary school workshop with a great bunch of Transition Year students in the science labs in UCC from multiple Cork schools. It was also great to have about a dozen UCC PhD researchers helping us and special thanks to the head of UCC chemistry Prof Anita Maguire for visiting the workshop.

Thanks to UCC staff members Dr Dave Otway and Will Daly for organizing the event and for inviting us down. We also followed up the UCC workshop with a trip to a local school in the afternoon to run another workshop with the Transition Year students of Regina Mundi College. So it was a very successful trip to Cork and it was great to catch up with so many people!

The featured picture is L-R: Dr Dave Otway (UCC), Prof Anita Maguire (UCC), Dr John O’Donoghue (TCD) and Dr Natalia Garcia Domenech (TCD).

ISTA Conference 2023

We made the trip to the Technological University of the Shannon (TUS) in Limerick on the 1st of April for the 2023 Irish Science Teachers Association (ISTA) conference. Teacher support and professional development is a large part of our long term plans for the CCI project. By encouraging, enabling and supporting teachers in their teaching of the chemistry of green energy, we are ensuring that our project will have a long term impact over many many years of students.

The CCI project had a promotional ad in the ISTA conference booklet and we had a stand in the main concourse where we talked about hydrogen fuel cells using our toy cars and we also handed out dozens of our “Green Energy Map of Ireland” posters. We hope these posters will stay on classroom and lab walls for many years, inspiring students as they learn.

It was great to see environmental advocate Duncan Stewart speaking at the conference, and it was also great to see so many battery electric cars charging outside. It really embodied the theme of the conference which was “sustainability”.

SFI Discover Partners Day

Huge thank you to Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) for inviting us to speak at their Discover Awards Partners day about our research into digital feedback methods. From the very beginning of our project we have priortised feedback and evaluation, in particular making it as assessible as possible to ensure that we are gathering an accurate picture of our project.

For our public engagement we have been using a simple 5-point Likert smiley face feedback method using tablets, while we have been using “interactive Digital Clickers” within our workshops to gather feedback from secondary schools students. We are currently in the process of analyzing the data and will have it publishing very soon for everyone to see. Keep an eye on our Research/Resources Section of this website over the next few months.

Spring has Sprung in the North West

The ATU Sligo team have been very busy through the month of March running school workshops all over the West and North West of Ireland. The team of PhD’s have visited Mayo, Galway, Leitrim and Donegal over the course of a few weeks.

Well done to everyone at ATU Sligo for their huge commitment and time to the CCI project. We really hope these rural schools enjoyed our visit to learn about the chemistry of energy storage, but more importantly learn about the current researched happening in our Higher Education Intuitions and about the career possibilities in STEM.

We had a Blast!!

A whopping 26 PhD and early career researchers from both Trinity College Dublin and the Atlantic Technological University Sligo, sparked conversations with over 800 primary students at our stand in the RDS for the ESB Science Blast! It was our biggest event to date in terms of the number of days, researchers and engagement.

Primary students from all over Leinster sat down with us for 5-10mins to talk about green energy, making batteries from coins and discussing hydrogen fuel cells with our researchers. We also took part as gaeilge on the Irish Language day where our Gaeilgeoir Niamh O’Shea from Trinity Chemistry engaged with gaelscoileanna as gaeilge all day!

The feedback we gathered from the event was also hugely positive with 78% of attendees to our stand rating it the highest possible rating on our 5-point “smiley scale”, and a further 16% rating it the second highest on our scale. The remaining 6% were a mixture of neutral and negative, which we will now learn from for future improvements.

A lot of thanks is due to many people. First of all to Rob Conway from the RDS for inviting us to take part. Rob is a Trinity Chemistry graduate so it was great to connect with him again. Thanks also to all of our leaders, which took charge of the stand each day; Susie Calvert, Ellen Fay, Lucy Fitzsimmons, and Inigo Iribarren. Finally, thanks to our ATU Sligo researchers who travelled all the way from Sligo to join their Trinity colleagues.

We’re back for 2023!

The Trinity College Dublin team have kicked off the new calendar year with workshops in Coolmine Community School in west Dublin, Clongowes in Kildare and Templecarrig in Wicklow. They have battled the wet and cold weather to get back on the road again with our battery investigation workshop. Our secondary school workshops are aimed at TY, 5th and 6th year chemistry students. We know from research that over a third of leaving cert chemistry students never do science again after they finish school. We want to encourage more students to remain in science, especially chemistry, by sparking their interest in the hugely important and rapidly expanding area of energy storage.

We need new and more efficient batteries for everything from electric cars, to tablets, to phones to backup storage for the electricity grid. At the moment lithium-ion batteries are the best we have but new technologies are emerging and we need more scientists in the future to continue this expansion in the use of green energy storage.

Thank you to all the PhD students in the School of Chemistry in Trinity College Dublin for giving up their time to visit schools all over Leinster!

School Workshops in the North West

The ATU Sligo team have been very busy throughout the months of November and December especially, with workshops running every week. The team of staff and PhD researchers have had numerous schools on campus during Science Week and have also visited schools all around the North West of Ireland. Over the past few weeks, the ATU Sligo team have ran multiple workshops with Coola Post-Primary, Castlerea Community School, Jesus and Mary College in Enniscrone, St. Mary’s in Ballisadare, Drumshambo Vocational School and Sligo Grammar just to name a few. Thank you to the teachers, students and schools for getting involved in the project and we hope everyone enjoyed our workshops. The ATU Sligo team will now take a well deserved rest for the Christmas break and return to even more schools in the spring time.

Teacher CPD at the ChemEd-Ireland Conference

Electrochemistry is currently the least popular and worst answered question on the Leaving Cert Chemistry exam paper. But this is not hugely surprising, since it is only a small component of the main course and is mainly part of an optional section. But we need to spark a greater interest in this hugely important area if we are to make better use of green energy in Ireland. To reduce our dependence on fossil fuels for energy, we are going to need more researchers and projects to solve our current and future energy demands.

In addition to student school workshops and public engagement, our project also has a small Teacher Continuous Professional Development (CPD) component. The aim of this is to help teachers to teach this important area with new accessible resources and ideas. This will provide our project with longevity and a much larger impact since each teacher has dozens of students.

Huge thanks to David O’Connell, who we partnered with to provide a new electrochemistry workshop at the recent ChemEd-Ireland conference at the Technological University of the Shannon in Limerick. David is a teacher at Christian Brothers College in Cork with a great passion for this area of chemistry. His workshop was a huge success with a full house on both occasions on the day.

Well done David and thank you!