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Kerry man leads efforts to cultivate a new generation of climate-engaged scientists

Trinity College scientist and Listowel native, Dr John O’Donoghue, appointed lead on new project helping the Government encourage STEM subjects among the young 

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Dr John O'Donoghue, RSC Education Coordinator, Trinity College Dublin, Áine Coogan, PhD student, Trinity College Dublin, Minister for Education Norma Foley, Minister for Further and Higher Education Simon Harris and Dr Natalia Garcia Domenech, Schools Coordinator, Trinity College Dublin.

Dr John O'Donoghue, RSC Education Coordinator, Trinity College Dublin, Áine Coogan, PhD student, Trinity College Dublin, Minister for Education Norma Foley, Minister for Further and Higher Education Simon Harris and Dr Natalia Garcia Domenech, Schools Coordinator, Trinity College Dublin.

Dr John O'Donoghue, RSC Education Coordinator, Trinity College Dublin, Áine Coogan, PhD student, Trinity College Dublin, Minister for Education Norma Foley, Minister for Further and Higher Education Simon Harris and Dr Natalia Garcia Domenech, Schools Coordinator, Trinity College Dublin.

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A KERRY man is leading national efforts to encourage the study of scientific subjects among the young – in an effort to get more brains focused on cracking some of our greatest climate problems.

Listowel native Dr John O’Donoghue, RSC Co-ordinator at Trinity College, Dublin, has been appointed the lead on a new project called Current Chemistry Investigators; charged with getting more and more students to engage with science specifically to investigate the field of energy storage.

It was one of a number of projects Dr O’Donoghue helped Minister for Education Norma Foley and Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris launch recently to further public understanding and involvement in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).

Dr O’Donoghue will be leading efforts to get more and more working on energy storage – one of the biggest conundrums facing a planet rocketing towards disastrous global warming.

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Unfortunately right now renewable energy generation has nothing on fossil fuels when it comes to storing power. Wind and solar power flows only when the wind is blowing and the sun is shining, Dr O’Donoghue explained:

"This new project will provide students, teachers and the public with a unique opportunity to meet science researchers and take part in activities based around the science of energy storage,” Dr O’Donoghue said, adding: 

"One of the reasons it has been so difficult to move away from fossil fuels is because they can be easily stored for a long time and they provide energy when we need it i.e. when they are burned they release heat immediately. Renewable energy sources like wind and solar power only provide energy when the wind is blowing and when the sun is shining respectively, which of course doesn't always happen in our changeable weather! So we need a way to store the energy from renewables to use when we need it.”

His project will see students, teachers and the public provided with more and more opportunities to meet science researchers and take part in activities based around the science of energy storage.

‘Electro-chemistry’ is the buzz phrase to this end, he said: “One way we can store energy is batteries, which we all have in our phones, laptops and tablets. [The] project aims to encourage conversations between researchers and the public about 'electro-chemistry'.

"This will provide an opportunity for everyone to contribute to the conversation about how we will move away from fossil fuels. This area of science has already given us many life-changing applications like hydrogen production, batteries, touchscreens, cardiac defibrillators, glucose sensors, alcohol breath testers and gel electrophoresis for COVID-19 testing.”

Along with his fellow team members, John will be visiting secondary schools all over Ireland from September on; with the team also running science activities for the young at the Cork Carnival of Science on June 11 and 12 in Fitzgerald's Park in Cork city, and at the Dublin Maker Festival in Merrion Square on July 23.


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