Spectroscopy in a Suitcase

Spectroscopy in a Suitcase

The RSC's Spectroscopy in a Suitcase scheme is an outreach activity which gives school students the chance to learn about spectroscopy through hands-on experience. As well as covering the principles of spectroscopic techniques, the activities use real-life contexts to demonstrate the applications of the techniques. The kits are hosted by Universities and events are delivered by University staff and students, so have a strong emphasis on encouraging school pupils to consider studying chemistry and the career opportunities available. The scheme is free of charge, with no costs involved for interested schools. Watch the video to learn more: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rKClmvVzgUM

Programme Structure

Spectroscopy in a Suitcase (SIAS) is only available for booking in the UK and Ireland. The project is funded by the Royal Society of Chemistry and Science Foundation Ireland.

SIAS aims to:

  • Promote science as a subject to young people, and to show the excitement of hands-on spectroscopy
  • Provide a simple and versatile equipment to schools for the demonstration of optical spectroscopy
  • Cover a range of experiments to allow coverage of topic for 4th years to 6th years
  • Supply full teacher training and support from University staff

The ATR Infra-red spectrometer and UV spectrometer are co-hosted by UCC in Cork. Combined, we cover the Munster region and deliver these state of the art spectroscopic techniques to your school through pre designed experiments. All you have to do, is Book Us!


WPA Lightwave II UV Spectrometer


  • Split Beam (RBC) UV/Vis Spectrophotometer covering 190-1100nm (3/5nm bandwidth).
  • Compact, and excellent value for money compared to conventional systems.
  • Wavelength scanning, kinetics and concentration functionality with full graphics display.
  • Flexible data export optional accessories include Export to PC (PVC) software and integrated printer.

 Bruker Alpha ATR FTIR


  • ‌About the size of a lab book, the extremely compact FT-IR spectrometer ALPHA will play a big part in your daily routine. Plug & play set-up, easy-to-use software, combined with QuickSnap™ sampling modules assure powerful and reliable FT-IR analysis you expect from Bruker.
  • The ALPHA will save you the much needed bench space in your laboratory. ALPHA's footprint only takes up a 22 cm by 30 cm space (about 8" by 11"). ALPHA is light as well, only weighing about 7 kg (about 13 lbs).
  • The ALPHA makes FT-IR analysis simpler than it has ever been before. With it's plug-and-play operation, easy to set-up and ease of use, ALPHA brings practicality to FT-IR spectroscopy. ALPHA offers all the capabilities you expect to achieve for a routine analysis. The intuitive OPUS/Mentor software interface guides you every step of the way. The software is easy to learn. You will use your time for the FT-IR analysis – not for learning the software.
  • The ALPHA offers full FT-IR sampling flexibility. User exchangeable QuickSnap™ sampling modules allow the analysis of almost any kind of sample (e.g. solids, liquids or gases). Transmission, attenuated total reflection (ATR), external and diffuse reflection FT-IR sampling accessories are available.

Experiments - Solve the Mystery!

Tracy McGhie explains how your students can solve a murder mystery using state-of-the-art equipment such as IR Spectroscopy, UV-VIS Spectroscopy and Mass Spectrometry. Tracy has been a Spectroscopy in a Suitcase coordinator, based at the University of Leicester, since 2008.

Download Tracy McGhie SIAS Report


Coordinator: Dr. Trevor Carey

Ambassadors (36): Rose O'Mahony, Fiona O'Donovan, Melissa McCarthy, Catherine Ryan, Jessica Doherty, Darragh Buckley, Louise Ryan, Sally O'Hanlon, Shane Daly, Niall Clifford, Tricia Hanlon, Rachel Shanahan, Olga Dennehy, Louise Shanahan, Paul Buckley, Conor Horgan, Emma Alcock, Eimear Heffernan, Christine Wyse, Anya Curran, Emma Coleman, Alison Shanahan, Edward Burgoyne, William Daly, Alex Game, Alex Lonergan, Shona Doyle, Jennifer Halpin, Louise Cooney, Anne Gayer, Aisling Foley, Niall O'Sullivan, Uday Khandavilli, Aobha Hickey, Eadaoin Casey, Katie O'Connor.

When is it Available?

Spectroscopy in a Suitcase is available from September 1st to June 1st, at a time/date suitable to both the school and the host institute.

How To Book Us

Spectroscopy in a Suitcase (SIAS) bookings are made through the RSC website and their online booking form. This is a free scheme, so there is no cost involved for the school. Schools visits by our SIAS team commence from March 1st 2015.

Link to RSC Booking Form.

What Happens Next?

Once you have made your booking, we do the rest! A member of our team will be in touch to set a date/time for us to arrive at your school with Spectroscopy in a Suitcase. We will bring everything needed to run the UV and IR experiments.

Location Map

A map view of schools and events SIAS has visited.


2017/18 School Year Statistics

Schools Visited: 46
Sessions: 56
Student Reach: 860

2016/17 School Year Statistics

Schools Visited: 53
Sessions: 60
Student Reach: 972

2015/16 School Year Statistics

Schools Visited: 57
Sessions: 74
Student Reach: 1488

2014/15 School Year Statistics

Schools Visited: 34
Sessions: 49
Student Reach: 961


Marie Lawlor - St. Brendan's College, Killarney, Co. Kerry.

"The senior Chemistry students at St. Brendan’s College, Killarney, Co. Kerry, took part in a Spectroscopy in a Suitcase workshop on Friday, March 6th 2015. UCC’s Dr. Carey, accompanied by his two assistants, Fiona & Rose, arrived early (despite the distance) and they were ready for our timetabled class at 10.20am. This was particularly timely for the 6th Year students as we had just studied that section of the Leaving Cert course. The students were on task for two hours and they commented that the workshop was enjoyable and insightful. As well as appreciating the monetary value of the spectrometers, the students gained a valuable insight into the concept of Spectroscopy as a tool for qualitative and quantitative analysis of an unknown substance.

The application of the workshop was interesting because of students’ interest in CSI. The class was divided into small efficient groups that were able to carry out the tasks as required and the graphs obtained were well explained. The quality of the equipment that we used was much appreciated by everybody as was the competitive nature of the task. The students enjoyed participating in acting out the molecular collisions, the inevitable result of which is a strong bond!"

 Ailís Ní Ríordáin - Coláiste Ghobnatan, Ballyvourney, Co. Cork.

"On March 20th fifth year students in Coláiste Ghobnatan took part in the RSC ‘Spectroscopy in a Suitcase’ workshop facilitated by staff from the Chemistry Department in University College Cork. The facilitators arrived and set up the equipment they had brought with them in the school’s laboratory. It was very handy that they brought all the apparatus with them especially for schools who may have limited facilities. It was incredible to see the size of the portable UV Spectrometer and IR Spectrometer. The workshop began with a brief talk from Dr. Trevor Carey where he outlined the basics of UV and IR Spectroscopy for the students. Following this he spoke about how the workshop would run and what the students would be doing during it. The class was split up into three groups, each one being supervised by one of the facilitators. The groups worked in rotation around lab and each was kept occupied with difference tasks which ranged from running UV spectra, preparing solutions etc. It was good to see the students on task at all times. The students themselves were allowed to run UV and IR spectrum which is an exceptional opportunity for second level students. From feedback I received from my own students, they realised and appreciated this opportunity greatly.

The tasks were explained well to students yet giving the students an adequate challenge. Personally I felt that the workshop was pitched perfectly for 4th/5th/6th year students. The students worked well during the workshop and I feel they gained a lot from it. ‘Spectroscopy in a Suitcase’ is good for making students enthusiastic about chemistry and for developing their interest in the subject, particularly those who may like to study chemistry at third level. It is also very complementary to the leaving certificate course. Students spoke about their enjoyment.

From a teacher’s point of view I would have to commend the staff from UCC for their professionalism. The workshop was very well planned and run. One of the great advantages of the workshop was that the facilitators and all the equipment come to the school. This can be very important for 5th and 6th year students as it might not be visible to have students in these years missing from school for the day. Also as the staff travel to your school it allows schools who may not be near Cork and unable to travel the distance to benefit from the workshop which is very important. I am looking forward to booking ‘Spectroscopy in a Suitcase’ next year for 4th and 5th year students!"

Therese Cahill - St. Joseph's College, Borrisoleigh, Co. Tipperary.

"The content and information was pitched exactly right at the cohort you and your team addressed. This brought a new and interesting topic to the classroom. I would have no hesitation on recommending this workshop and would welcome this or similiar workshops in the future."

Margaret Cotter - Ballincollig Community School, Co. Cork.

"A wonderful, fun-filled education session. The pupils were always engaged. It's a very encouraging and worthwhile practical experience for all."

In the Media

The Kerryman, 01/04/2015

John the Baptist Website News 22/04/2015

Spectroscopy in a Suitcase - CSI JBCS!

‌Pobailscoil na Tríonóide Website News 08/05/2015

Forensic Science

Science (ISTA Official Journal) Volume 50, Number 3 (May 2015).

Chemistry in Action, Issue Number 104 (May 2015)

The Waterford News and Star - 18/05/2015

Contact Us

UCC SIAS: sias@ucc.ie

Twitter: @sias_ucc

UCC SIAS Co-ordinator

Name: Dr. Trevor Carey
Email: t.carey@ucc.ie
Tel: 021 - 4902150

School of Chemistry


University College Cork, College Rd, Cork, Ireland