Capturing chemical creativity

McGoldrick, Niamh, Bartosz, Marzec, Scully, Noelle and Draper, Sylvia M. (2011) Capturing chemical creativity. [Conference Proceedings]


The teaching of Chemistry can descend to the dry delivery of chemical facts without student engagement. A new exercise was devised in 2002 to help alleviate this problem. The objectives were to improve the Senior Freshman teaching programme (260 students) and despite the disparate backgrounds and career goals of the students, strengthen their motivation for the subject of Chemistry. Since its introduction the programme has undergone iterative improvement. It is now compulsory warranting 5% of the students' end of year grade. Unexpected benefits include the delivery of team working skills and the instigation of a sense of joint purpose and comradery in the student body. Pre-assigned teams of 10-12 students are invited to select a topic, not specifically covered by the course, and to explore the Chemistry behind it. Memorable examples include The Chemistry of Superheroes and The Chemistry of Bees. Two course co-ordinators (selected from the Chemistry postgraduate body and funded by the School) provide weekly support to the teams, giving tutorials on report writing, presentation skills and accessing scientific resources. A staff mentor also interacts on a face-to-face basis with 'their' team. The student assessment has two components. The first requires the students to work in pairs to submit a scientific report on an agreed aspect of their topic. The second uses the accumulated reports as source material for a final group presentation. Marks are awarded at this stage to the innovative delivery of the information (slides, scripts, props, costumes and creative design). The 20 minute talks are marked by academic staff and the best are presented before the entire class in a highly competitive and entertaining final. The winning team as determined by a panel of external judges (e.g. Jonathan McCrea (Newstalk, Spin 103.8) and Mary Mulvihill (Irish Times)), are awarded the perpetual silver trophy, before an audience of students with an invigorated interest and appreciation for Chemistry.

[thumbnail of NAIRTL 5th Annual Conference.pdf]
NAIRTL 5th Annual Conference.pdf

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