Using the university’s regular newsletter to all Career Teachers in Northern Ireland, the invitation to avail of our program was extended to all secondary school careers and chemistry teachers in Northern Ireland. We also used social media and professional networks for promotion which of course gives a global reach.
The RSC Outreach Fund has been of great benefit for this project and it will allow us to prepare and distribute information packs about chemistry and careers in the chemical sciences to all schools in Northern Ireland.
This year we have had 2,500 visits to our website from more than 1,100 individuals while we have managed to connect with some schools who have been unable to visit in person in recent years.
Ms L Thompson, Head of Science/Chemistry at Dominican College, said: "It has actually been great to have them online. As a school we have been able to attend a few of the sessions and we never get the opportunity to normally attend so thank you for all the hard work that has gone in to putting the programme together."
The return of extensive remote schooling post-Christmas provided us with a great opportunity to extend our offered program into 2021. When we scheduled events for the month of January, we saw a huge surge in interest. The demand for events remained high, so much so that we subsequently extended the program and we are now planning to hold more events up until Easter.
We have had more than 900 registrations (some of which were single registrations for entire classes) for the live events and there were numerous questions about careers but also about further study in chemistry.
All of this would not have been possible without the team effort in our department, the enthusiasm of our exhibitors, the receptivity of local teachers and pupils and the generous support of the RSC.
This has been a wonderful and memorable experience – each event was different, and we never knew what questions pupils would ask! The legacy of the 2020 Chemistry at Work programme is that our school intends to embed the virtual aspects into our ongoing outreach programme, retaining and maintaining the existing website content and hosting regular online events throughout the year, with the prospect of also running an in-person exhibition akin to our traditional event when it is safe to do so. My message to others is that we are still able to reach schools to promote Chemistry at Work and in fact we have been able to reach even more schools than before. It has been one of the few advantages paradoxically thrust upon us during the current pandemic.