Chemistry Workshop

Chemistry lectures provide hands on seminar for Davitt College students

Dr. Fiona McArdle, Senior Lecturer, School of Science, IT, Sligo and Ms. Mary Connolly, Technical Officer, School of Science, IT, Sligo, attended Davitt College, Castlebar to deliver the Spectroscopy in a Suitcase (SIAS) workshop.

The aim of this workshop is to give students an introduction to advanced analytical chemistry equipment, namely FTIR and UV/Vis spectrometry. Spectroscopy in a Suitcase gives school students the chance to learn about spectroscopy through hands-on experience. As well as covering the principles of spectroscopic techniques, the activities use real-life contexts to demonstrate the applications of the techniques.

Such equipment is widely used in local chemical, pharmaceutical, food and environmental laboratories. Hence, this workshop can offer students the opportunity to use equipment that they might one day use routinely in industry in their local communities.

The equipment for the workshop costs about €30,000 and this is beyond the reach of secondary schools hence the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) and Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) have funded the equipment and the Institute of Technology, Sligo is one of six host third level colleges who have been contracted to deliver this service to second level students in the North West of Ireland. The aim is to enhance the profile of chemistry and to encourage more students to choose careers in STEM.

The workshop was tailored to both leaving certificate students 5th and 6th year who are taking chemistry, as spectroscopy is a topic on the Leaving Certificate curriculum and Transition Year students who have not yet chosen their leaving certificate subjects. The workshops can be tailored to suit the knowledge level of the students. The workshops currently use forensic science scenarios, and this is always of interest to students.

The workshops have a strong emphasis on encouraging school pupils to consider studying chemistry and also highlight the career opportunities available with chemistry qualifications.