SCIENCE and technology joined forces on Wednesday last in UCC when Ireland's first university‑based state‑of‑ the‑art datalogging laboratory was officially opened by UCC President, Professor Gerard T. Wrixon.
The Intel‑sponsored laboratory aims to "bring science alive" for students who can now use computers to generate and conduct science experiments, the findings and results from which are processed for interpretation almost instantaneously. Forty students from nine Cork city‑based secondary schools currently on campus to attend UCC's 2002 Chemistry Summer Camp will be the first users to avail of the Laboratory's facilities.
From October 2002 datalogging will be part of UCCs Chemistry undergraduate programmes.
The Laboratory's launch is just one new approach Irish educationalists are advocating to urgently reverse the worryingly low numbers studying science subjects at second and third level. In 2001 alone, fewer than 15% of Ireland's 40,000 Leaving Certificate Students sat examinations in chemistry and physics. To date, datalogging has not established a place in the Irish education system as we continue to play "catch up" with science educationalists in the US and the UK whereas early as the 1980s, datalogging was so successfully adopted for the teaching of science, that it is now an indispensable part of the school curriculum. "The use of datalogging opens up a whole new dimension for the teaching and learning of science in Ireland. The days of the Bunsen burner are gone ‑ we are now in the wonderful position of being able to use the latest that technology has to offer to teach and learn science in a highly effective, modern and fun way. "Reaction from students on this programme and the students that they in turn have taught using datalogging in the classroom has been extremely positive and very encouraging, and makes the future of science education in Ireland look very bright indeed," said Declan Kennedy, Lecturer in Science Education, Department of Education University College Cork.