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Health & Science Outreach at DkIT

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Health & Science Outreach at DkIT

DkIT Share Passion for Chemistry and Biology with Local Secondary School Students 

Dundalk Institute of Technology (DkIT) are delighted to report that Dr Orla Sherlock and Dr Chiara Hanlon recently hosted Ardee Community College and Breifne College, Cavan at the newly combined Germ Lab & Pharma Lab one day workshops on Campus. These two workshops combined both biology and chemistry labs for Leaving cert students.


This was the Pharma Labs first one day workshop and it was a huge hit with the secondary school students. Funded by the Royal Society of Chemistry, the Pharma Lab offers students an opportunity to try chemistry at third level with an emphasis on pharmaceutical chemistry.  Dr Hanlon said, “These workshops help address the common misconception that Chemistry is a tough subject, students not only learnt how to apply a variety of chemistry laboratory skills and techniques to the synthesis of aspirin but also applied the technique of 3D molecule models to visualise the actual structure of the aspirin they had just synthesised in the laboratory during the workshop”.


In the Germ Lab, funded by the Society of Microbiology, students learned all about their microbiomes, a very hot topic in human health just now. Completing several hands-on experiments, students looked at their own microbiomes and most importantly learnt how to nourish their microbiomes for better health and wellbeing. Students competed fiercely to design a playdoh microbiome friendly meal with a “microbiome food hamper” being presented to the winners. Dr Sherlock commented “Our goal is simple, through school engagement we aim to foster awareness, interest and participation in Science”.


The secondary school students also got to experience a fun day in the life of third level students and were given the opportunity to directly interact and ask questions of the current undergraduate students.


Claire Collins, a teacher from Breifne College Cavan said “I have nothing but praise for the considered and meaningful outreach programme designed by Dr Sherlock and Dr Hanlon. The programmes utilised active teaching methodologies to inspire students and use higher order thinking skills to complete their practical elements. I cannot recommend this outreach programme enough I was thoroughly impressed from start to finish and would gladly bring groups again to take part”.  


When surveyed 100% of students who participated at the labs reported they enjoyed the day, with comments including “Great experience, really made me love biology a lot more, I learned a lot more about microbiomes that I never knew before, the student assistants that helped in the lab were really great too” and “it was very interesting”, “I enjoyed picturing in my head the bonds taking place as we synthesised the aspirin using the theory I learnt in school, the teacher was brilliant”.

Dr Sherlock noted that DkIT’s recently launched School of Health and Science Outreach website was extremely busy in 2023, with workshops booked out for 2024 and waiting lists in place. School talks remain available where schools can request a talk with a scientist from a specific discipline that is of interest to their student group. Dr Sherlock added “Our ‘Talking Scientists’ can tell you about our Programmes here in DkIT, discuss studying Science, working in Science, their research and answer questions such as, What skills are needed? What are the career paths?  And what subjects should I study?”.


DkIT Science Outreach is available year-round and recently kicked off 2024 with the “DkIT Loves STEM” roadshow which visited 5 schools in the Northeast Region and met approximately 1000 TY students.

For More schools outreach information check out School of Health & Science Outreach DkIT

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