Peter Childs reports on the success of the recent European Variety in Chemistry Education conference

The Analog Devices Building at the University of Limerick, Ireland

Source: Lukemcurley

The Analog Devices Building at the University of Limerick, Ireland

The 5th European Variety in Chemistry Education conference was held at the University of Limerick (UL) from 3-5 July 2013. Nearly 80 people attended from around Europe and further afield. They were mostly university chemistry lecturers or science education lecturers (who teach secondary level chemistry teachers). It was encouraging to see a number of postgraduate students.

The programme consisted of five plenary lectures, four workshops, 41 oral papers and eight posters. There was a lively discussion at the poster reception and then at each coffee break. It was encouraging to see how many people stayed right to the end of the conference and the timing was designed to allow many people to arrive on the first day and leave after the final session.

The conference was opened with welcome addresses from Don Barry (president, UL), Pat Hobbs (president, Institute of Chemistry of Ireland), Ilka Parchmann (chair, EuCheMS division of chemical education) and Kieran Hodnett (dean, faculty of science and engineering, UL).

The organisers were grateful for the sponsors who helped to underwrite the costs of the conference and keep the registration fee low (which included registration, meals and accommodation as a package). The major sponsors were: the Institute of Chemistry of Ireland; the Royal Society of Chemistry's Tertiary Education Group, Chemistry Education Research Group and Education Division Ireland Region; Merck Sharp and Dohme; and Aughinish Rusal. There were also a number of other industrial sponsors.

Plenary lectures

  • 'Teaching college chemistry: context, collaboration and communication' Reiner Glaser (US)
  • 'Enhancing the student experience in undergraduate chemistry' David McGarvey (UK)
  • 'Translating university chemistry for the classroom' Sabine Streller (Germany)
  • 'Learning chemistry through inquiry' Natalie Rowley (UK)
  • 'The more we do, the less they do..? Effective use of technology in chemistry education' Michael Seery (Ireland)


  • 'Wikis - what they are and how they are used to facilitate and assess group assignment' Claire McDonnel
  • 'Getting started in pedagogic research' Tina Overton
  • 'Publishing in chemical education - research and popular' Karen J Ogilvie and Michael Seery
  • 'Promotion and outreach activities' Sylvia Draper and Tim Harrison

The program was very full (and is available on the website), as the conference only lasted for two full days (spread over three days). However, everything went smoothly and the proximity of the rooms made it easy for participants to move from one session to another. The number and quality of the talks was very encouraging and there were a good number of first time attendees at EuroVariety. There was some very positive feedback after the conference and the organisers hope that everyone took back something useful to their home institutions. The next EuroVariety conference will be held in Estonia in 2015.