Education coordinator John O’Donoghue and his team of members brought interactive chemistry experiments to an eager crowd at Ireland’s National Ploughing Championships.
The National Ploughing Championships, held at the end of September, is a three-day event like nothing else. Now in its 85th year it has become one of the largest outdoor events in Europe with over 1700 exhibitors, nearly 300,000 attendees and an economic impact of €35 million.
Millions are spent on trade purchases, food and personal shopping with exhibitors pulling out all the stops to welcome visitors from all over Ireland and abroad.
One of those exhibitors is Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), the national funding agency for scientific research and national promoter of STEM. SFI has a number of programmes that support education and public engagement, one of which has funded the RSC Spectroscopy in a Suitcase (SIAS) programme in Ireland for the past two years.
The SFI exhibition this year included a wide range of activities from Physics Busking to Science Shows and hands on demonstrations from all of Ireland’s main research centres.
The RSC Ireland Regions team were delighted to be invited back again for one of the three days to chat with attendees about UV-light, spectroscopy and biodiesel!
Using the Infra-red (IR) spectrometer, we explained the difference between fossil fuel Diesel and Biodiesel. We also explained how the UV beads from our Mission Starlight Global Experiment could be used to tell farmers to protect themselves from the sun when working outside.
As well as recording nearly 1000 interactions on the first day of the exhibition, our RSC members also had the pleasure of numerous government officials visiting the stand from the President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins to the Tánaiste (Deputy Prime Minister) Frances Fitzgerald.
They also had the fantastic opportunity to explain Spectroscopy in a Suitcase in depth to one of the only members of the Irish Government (Dáil Éireann) with a scientific background. Kate O’Connell is a pharmacist and TD (MP) for Dublin Bay South and was hugely interested in the demonstration and our members.