November 26, 2007
Chemistry works during Science Week 2007

During national Science Week 2007, which ran from November 12-16, CSCB scientists helped over 1000 primary and secondary school pupils discover the magic of chemistry.

10 schools and over 200 students attended ScienceWorks at UCD Conway Institute. Participants on the half-day workshops got the opportunity to tour the facilities and meet researchers, learning that for a scientist the most important thing is to be passionate about your work and enjoy being part of a team. The lab session featured, in addition to chemistry, neuroscience, bioinformatics and DNA.

Mick Dunne, UCD School of Chemistry and Chemical Biology,
with students from St. Macartan's College, Co. Monaghan

15 postgraduates from the CSCB brought some magic to ScienceWorks by performing a series of "chemistry illusions" for the visiting students. The students witnessed a volcanic reaction of ammonium dichromate, the oscillating colour changes of an equilibrium reaction and the preparation of "elephant's toothpaste". The highlight for many was the ever-popular liquid nitrogen experiments when they learned a little about the properties of liquids and gases as well as venting their frustration on some frozen bananas!

Over 700 primary and secondary school students from across Ireland visited UCD for the Science Festival hosted by UCD Science on November 13 and 14 to explore the history of planet earth and to discover how science is part of our everyday lives. At this year’s festival - themed “Surrounded by Science” - each UCD school involved in the area of science set up an interactive pod for the students visiting the festival.

At the colourful UCD School of Chemistry and Chemical Biology pod organised by Dr Xiangming Zhu, CSCB postgraduates Niamh Murphy and Sam Maguire Boyle amazed the eager visitors by turning copper coins into "gold".

Niamh Murphy and Sam Maguire Boyle at the UCD School of Chemistry
and Chemical Biology pod at the UCD Science Festival

At other pods, the aspiring young scientists solved mathematical puzzles and tested their mental agility at video games, examined fossil plants and dinosaur parts which were between 65 million and 200 million years old, and observed zebrafish in motion.

Discover Science and Engineering provided two interactive science shows on each day of the festival - the Wonders Show from Estonia and Sue McGrath's amazing Science2Life show. “It was absolutely fantastic, a brilliant learning experience, very engaging and lots of fun for the students and us teachers,” said Emer Whyte, a teacher from St Peter’s Boys School in Bray, who escorted a group of students to the event.

On November 20, UCD School of Chemistry and Chemical Biology hosted the Royal Society of Chemistry schools lecture by Professor David Smith, University of York. Professor Smith won a Royal Society of Chemistry Higher Education Teaching Award in 2005 and estimates that he has lectured to over 25,000 school students.

His lecture in the Astra Hall in UCD which was entitled "Nanochemistry - Delivering new medicines?" was attended by over 350 Dublin secondary school pupils. Bringing the students into the nanoworld with innovative demonstrations and video clips, he explained how future materials and applications in medicine will depend on the new structures which chemists can generate. To listen to a podcast by Professor Smith on Nanotechnology in Medicine you can visit


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