Aoife was voted the winner of the New Materials Zone in November 2016. Here she writes about using her £500 prize money to purchase a renewable energy demonstration kit and a renewable energy monitor for demonstrations and events.
If you’d like the chance to win funding for your own public engagement work, apply for the next I’m a Scientist, Get me out of here: imascientist.ie/scientist-apply.
I chose to use my winnings from the New Materials Zone (2016) to purchase a renewable energy demonstration kit and a renewable energy monitor. This was used by me over the past year and will be used by my group and the School of Chemistry for future demonstrations and events. The kit allows energy to be converted (and measured) from mechanical, chemical and solar sources to electrical energy.
I’ve been lucky enough to carry out demonstrations for two groups of secondary school students at two events at my university. The two groups came to about 100 students in total. I first gave them a short lecture on the university research experience and followed this with a discussion on the practicalities and importance of renewable energies. The sessions were ended with a demonstration and mini lab using the kit where the students got to generate electricity using a fuel cell, electrolysis cell and water (which is what my research actually focuses on!) and a wind turbine and solar cell. It was possible also for the students to measure the energy being generated by these sources.
The students gave great feedback and really enjoyed the hands on aspects of the demonstrations and I plan to run similar events throughout the coming year.
Winning the competition also encouraged me to get involved with more outreach activities with the RSC and the School of Chemistry here in Trinity, including volunteering at the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition for the last two years which I’ve thoroughly enjoyed. Overall, my experience has been fantastic and I would recommend taking part in “I’m a Scientist” to anyone considering it!
I spent € 450 on a Horizon renewable energy kit and energy monitor and €50 on travel for other outreach.