Trinity College Dublin

Skip to main content.

Top Level TCD Links

Senior Freshman Chemistry Broad Curriculum

Senior Freshman Broad Curriculum Coordinators:
Shelley Stafford and Oscar Ronan (sfchembc@tcd.ie)

BC cupThe senior freshman broad curriculum course is held over two semesters relating to the two chemistry modules that are taught during Semester 1 (CH2201) and Semester 2 (CH2202), respectively with second year students split into groups and assigned topics that they have to research in detail. The topics can have a connection with recent news or be thought provoking, with each group mentored by an academic member of staff in the School of Chemistry and all groups receive the support of a team of three postgraduates who coordinate activities and steer the process.

The first semester is designated to writing a group report and individual subtopic reports on the main topic. This allows the students to develop their writing and research skills to a university standard. The second semester is aimed at communicating the research material gathered in semester 1 through a group presentation. Some of the presentations incorporate a demonstration component to further show the practical and creative aspects of chemistry. An internal competition among groups is then held in a heats/finale format and all of the presentations are judged by a panel. The finalists of this first round then move on to present their topics to a large audience mainly consisting of second level students but also fellow university students and a scientific panel which decides on an overall winner. The panel consists of members of staff, industrial representatives and external judges with expertise in communication or science/technology.

The course and the competition aim at promoting the chemical sciences through recognition of their importance in our everyday life. This is not only among university students, but also among younger students in second level whom might be at a critical stage in their academic career, and are receptive to the possibility of considering chemistry and science in general as a potential career choice.


Broad Curriculum Finals

Friday, 4th March, 2016

broadcurriculum

The School of Chemistry TCD holds an annual broad curriculum module which culminates in one of the biggest events on the school’s calendar. A selected number of presentations are given by the Senior Freshman (second year) undergraduates to a large audience of 300 secondary level students, academics and friends, in a novel and creative way. These presentations attempt to convey unusual and thought provoking chemistry in a format suitable for any audience.

This year’s presentation final was held on the 4th of March in the Tercentenary Hall of the Trinity Biomedical Science Institute (TBSI) in TCD where the following five teams competed for first place.

Presentation Title
Staff Mentor
The Chemistry of Sleep Prof. Dónall Mac Dónaill
The Chemistry of Superfoods Dr. Niamh McGoldrick
The Chemistry of Mental Illness Prof. Mathias Senge
The Chemistry of Life on Mars Prof. Yurii Gun'ko
The History of Chemistry Prof. Aidan McDonald

This year’s judging panel consisted of three esteemed judges from various backgrounds of chemistry; Ms. Patricia Duffy (Secondary School Teacher, St. Mary’s Baldoyle), Dr. Hugh Fay (Henkel Ireland) and Dr. Sarah-Louise Ball (Science Communicator). All judges had the unenviable task of choosing their top three teams from five great presentations.

First up, The Chemistry of Superfoods demonstrated the power of food as fuel in special chemistry edition of the popular gameshow, Family Fortunes. Two family teams, the McKale’s and the McDonald’s, eating very different diets, attempted to compete against each other for the grand prize in the final. The McKale’s stormed ahead with their cleaner diet. However, in an unscheduled plot twist, each family switched diets mid-show, resulting in the McDonald’s equalising close to the final gong. Realising the beneficial chemistry that could be provided by a cleaner diet rich in superfoods, the nail biting tie was decided with a “smoothie-off” of goji berries and kale!

Next up, The Chemistry of Mental Illness opened their annual conference on mental illness and disorders, by welcoming three experts in their medical fields to discuss current and past treatment. Disorders discussed included Schizophrenia, ADHD and other non-chemical forms of therapy. Whilst in-depth discussion of pharmaceutical and chemical treatment of these illnesses and disorders was undertaken, unearthed historical footage of past treatment was also shown. In a twist, the conference was ended with some new information heralding the old and somewhat “barbaric” electroconvulsive therapy treatment as rivalling and surpassing that of novel drug treatments. Delegates at the conference were left to question the future of mental illness treatment worldwide.

Following on, The Chemistry of Sleep welcomed the audience to an exclusive live broadcast of the beloved series, University Challenge. With the infamous Jeremy Paxman on annual leave, producers of the show decided to hold specialist episodes on the sciences, with this current episode focusing on all things related to sleep and neurochemistry. With fingers on buzzers, contestants battled it out for the correct naming of neurotransmitters and the effect of drugs on sleep. Both teams must have felt they were lucid dreaming, as neither team answered a single question wrong, in what proved to be one of the best episodes of the series to date!

Leaving earth for fifteen minutes, The Chemistry of Life on Mars welcomed the audience to a special press conference to announce the successful colonisation of Mars by Trinity’s own “Nassau Space Agency”. After a number of questions from the press in the audience relating to engine specifications and the chemistry of space travel, the audience were surprised by a live video feed from some of the Nassautronauts on Mars. Despite having lost Matt Damon once more, the Nassautronauts discussed their plans for farming and terraforming Mars in the near and distant future.

Concluding the event, The History of Chemistry provided some much needed comic relief with a gameshow focusing on the history of chemistry. With centuries of material to test the eager contestants and the show’s dual hosts had the near impossible task of making the periodic table funny, and yet succeeded!

Whilst the judges left to deliberate their top three choices, the audience was given an informative talk on the benefits of joining the Royal Society of Chemistry by Dr. John O'Donoghue. Following this talk, some much needed sugar was found in the inaugural “30-Question Creme Egg Quiz” with audience members battling it out to show their chemistry knowledge.

 

The judges returned and announced their choice for the top three places in this year’s final;

1st Place - The Chemistry of Life on Mars
2nd Place - The Chemistry of Mental Illness
3rd Place – The Chemistry of Superfoods



1st Place Winning Team and Judges


2nd Place

3rd Place

First place received the BC trophy along with a 100 euro voucher (sponsored by Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) and the School of Chemistry), second place received a 60 euro voucher from Boojum Burritos and third place received a 50 euro voucher from Lemon Crepe Company. Individual prizes for best speaker and best answered question were also awarded to students who excelled at the event.

RSC We would like to give a special thanks to the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) for supporting the final this year and we would also like to thank the following for their support:


sponsors

Last but not least, we would like to thank all the academics who mentored a group this year and who acted as semi-final judges.

Michelle Browne and Robert Conway-Kenny
2016 BC Co-ordinators sfchembc@tcd.ie


 



This year's Broad Curriculum Final was held on 28th February, 2014.

This year’s final was sponsored by the RSC

Previous Topics include:

  • Venomous/poisonous/
    toxic animals
  • Caffeine’s chemical
    kick
  • Smart materials and
    metamaterials
  • DNA sequencing
  • Dopamine
  • Chemical Warfare
  • The Chemistry of
    Transmutation
  • The Chemistry of
    the Rainforest’
  • The Chemistry of
    Bees’
   


Last updated 4 October 2017 by School of Chemistry (Email).