Science teacher Michael O Connor (pictured above) from Tallaght Community School gave a demonstration at the recent SSPC workshop at the University of Limerick.
The annual workshop for educators, hosted by Synthesis and Solid State Pharmaceutical Centre (SSPC) and the Dept. of Chemical Sciences, is designed to encourage science teachers to become more confident with chemical demonstrations and bring effective learning strategies to the classroom.
The workshop also offers opportunities for teachers to incorporate experiments that will capture students’ imagination like explosions and some of the coolest reactions in chemistry involving a chemical demonstration show, simple physics demonstrations, Spectroscopy in a Suitcase by Royal Society of Chemistry, and covers safety aspects and the use of ICT in demonstration.
The course incorporates inquiry and problem-based learning methodologies, to enable teachers to utilise demonstrations to stimulate curiosity and problem-solving ability on the part of the students.
Teachers work in pairs and are required to research, devise, test and present their own 10-20 minute chemical magic show at the end of the week.
This approach offers many advantages, including the future active engagement of students in chemistry projects and teachers can see the benefits of the workshop as chemistry plays an important role both in our lives today and in our future.
Supporting teachers’ development is vital for the enhancement of the Irish education system, to help educators capitalise on the importance of science in everyday life, creating an active learning environment by integrating demonstrations in the classroom helps expand engagement in learning and develop a repertoire of demonstrations linked to the physical sciences.
SSPC’s Education and Public Engagement Officer, Dr Sarah Hayes said:
“The workshop showcases the relationship between the practicality of the work and the enthusiasm for teaching.
“The Centre has developed the course to give the hands-on experience with various experiments and enhance confidence in teaching methods.
“Every year the feedback we receive shows it is very useful, engaging and offers teachers a real opportunity to present in the classroom with self-assurance.”