A warm welcome for NRC Summer Science School

Students have given the ‘thumbs up’ to Northern Regional College’s Summer Science School at its Coleraine campus saying it was an ideal opportunity to refresh their chemistry skills before starting into the new academic year.

The two-day programme filled with practical lab activities and learning, delivered in collaboration with Queen’s University, Belfast, was designed to give students a chance to make up for lost time and get valuable ‘hands-on’ experience.

Endorsed by the Royal Society of Chemistry, the Summer School was as an excellent opportunity to address the gap in Year 14 A-Level and Level 3 BTEC students’ laboratory-based learning and skills development.

Among those attending the two-day programme were students from Dalriada School, Lumen Christi College, Dominican College, Cross and Passion College, Northern Regional College and North West Regional College.

Dalriada Karen McLaughlin and Sophie Fox

Sophie Fox and Karen McLaughlin, who did their A levels at Dalriada and former Lumen Christi pupils, Oran McMenamin and Connie O’Brien have all been accepted by Queen’s to study Medicine.

“We missed so much because of Covid so the summer school was a great opportunity for us to get some practical experience before going to university. It helped to refresh my memory and I feel a lot more confident about going to Queen’s university now. It was also good to get to know some the others who will be in the same class at university,” said Connie.

Áine McKendry, Caitlin Heggarty and Cara Casey did A levels at Cross and Passion College. They are all going to Queen’s to study Biological Sciences and were unanimous in their verdict about the summer school.

“The practical sessions were really useful and enjoyable. We’d no practical experience because of Covid so would’ve been thrown in at the deep end if it wasn’t for the summer school,” said Áine.

Bradley George, who is half-way through his Level 3 Applied Science Diploma at Northern Regional College in Ballymena said the summer school was “exactly what he needed”.

“I felt my brain was ready to melt from doing nothing for so long! I enjoyed getting back into the lab and doing some practical work and am looking forward to starting the second year of my course.”

The practical sessions were supervised by two of the College’s Science lecturers, Dr Johanne Brolly and Dr Patricia Smyth.

Dr Brolly explained: “The Summer Science School was designed to bridge the gap in lab skills and knowledge to boost confidence, so students get off to a good start at university. It’s a great example of how FE Colleges and universities can work together to support their students.”

The Summer Science School initiative was a collaborative project between three of the FE colleges – Northern Regional College, Belfast Metropolitan College and South West Regional College and local universities.

Northern Regional College offers two Level 3 courses in Applied Science, (Biomedical and Analytical and Forensic Science) and a Foundation Degree in Applied and Medical Science.

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