Developing a Junior Scientist Badge with a local youth service (community based learning with chemistry undergraduates)


Developing a Junior Scientist Badge with a local youth service (community based learning with chemistry undergraduates)

Project synopsis

A Junior Scientist badge has been developed and implemented in collaboration with Core Youth Service in Inchicore. It was designed for young people (aged 8-12) with an interest in science. Second Year science students from DIT are involved in this community-based learning activity and it was launched in 2016 with the assistance of the DIT Widening Participation Annual Fund.

Core Youth Service, Inchicore, Dublin 7;

A syllabus for a Junior Scientist badge for 8 to 12 year olds was developed in collaboration with Breda Murphy from Core Youth Service in Inchicore in 2016. The project involves interaction over three weeks between 12 to 16 2nd year undergraduate students and about 10 young people who participate in Core Youth Service’s activities and who had expressed an interest.

Once they had planned the activities, DIT students travelled to the Core Youth Service facilities for two sessions there and, in the final week, the Junior Scientists came in to DIT. Each session involved interactive hands-on activities and related recording of findings/ observations.

Participation in this type of community-based Learning project by DIT Chemistry students has been previously shown to assist development of a range of key skills. It also develops their sense of identity and confidence as a professional scientist, their awareness of civic engagement and of how they can contribute to society as a professional scientist. To ensure that the badge project is more than a once-off interaction, participants are encouraged to mentor others in following years and to exhibit a project in the annual DIT Scifest Science fair. There is potential also for implementation of the Junior Science Badge with guide/ scout units and other community youth groups.

This is one of a series of community-based learning projects implemented as the ‘laboratory’ component of a 2nd year Professional Skills module for chemistry at Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT).

Skills developed:

  • Effective communication
  • Leadership
  • Analytical and interpersonal
  • Problem solving
  • Organisation
  • Digital literacy
  • Team-work
  • Reflective skills
  • Confidence.

Students should be able to:

  • Demonstrate their understanding of the course content by developing suitable hands-on activities to demonstrate scientific principles to children of school-going age.
  • Reflect on the effectiveness of the interactive sessions and their community-based learning project.
  • Develop the transferable skills, as well as their understanding of the role of professional scientists in society.

The module aimed to give 8-12 year olds an opportunity to learn more about science and build on an initial curiosity. It was also hoped that they would come to view higher education as an achievable goal because of their interaction with DIT students (some of whom have similar backgrounds) and by visiting a third level campus. Breda Murphy, the community youth worker who collaborated on this project, reflected that ‘the programme was well designed and interesting. The DIT students interacted very well on the young people’s level, engaging them in the activities and keeping them interested.’


School of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Dublin Institute of Technology

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