Letterkenny woman leads new iBooks design team

Carolyn Farrar

Reporter:

Carolyn Farrar

A Letterkenny woman was a leader of the design team behind a new Apple iBook resource for science teachers and secondary school students.

A Letterkenny woman was a leader of the design team behind a new Apple iBook resource for science teachers and secondary school students.

“We were trying to develop resources for free that teachers would be able to use in the classroom,” said Dr. Veronica McCauley, science education lecturer at the National University of Ireland Galway School of Education. She and fellow lecturer Seán Ó Grádaigh led the project design team of student science teachers in the creation of the Sci-Hook series.

The series features a series of more than 30 short video clips designed to grab Junior Certificate students’ attention at the start of each new science topic. “We thought, ‘What fun thing can we do at the beginning of class?’ and then, ‘Let’s video ourselves doing it,’” Veronica explained.

For example, in a segment on vitamins and minerals, the teachers sought to find out how much iron there is in a bowl of cornflakes. Turns out, a very strong magnet will attract cornflakes to it. A data sheet that explains the science in the demonstration accompanies each video.

The team created a set of three iBooks in physics, biology and chemistry, and the books are available for free online at the iBookstore. The resources, which are translated into Irish, are also available for free at the bilingual web site, www.sciencehooks.scoilnet.ie.

Originally from Letterkenny, Veronica attended secondary school at Loreto Letterkenny, and trained as a science teacher at the University of Limerick, where she also earned her PhD in science education. Veronica worked as a postdoc at Harvard University in Massachusetts for two years before joining the faculty at NUI Galway, and she has lived in Galway for about eight years.

The resource is already proving popular -- there have been almost 1,000 downloads from around the world in the two months since it became available.

“It is being downloaded quite rapidly in the states,” Veronica said.