BEES Transition Programme 2019

Once again, the School of BEES ran its popular TY programme earlier in the year to give second-level students an opportunity to explore life at BEES. The following are just some of the comments from this year’s participants.

Ava Lawton, Presentation Secondary School Mitchelstown.

This week I attended the Bees TY 2019 Programme in UCC. It was a week full of unexpected surprises and was far from what I was expecting.  The experience of being on campus and participating in lectures was insightful and beneficial but what made my week was the uniqueness of this course. In Transition Year I have been to many college courses but this week will always stand out when I look back on transition year. The point that sums up my week here was on the very first day when we got a tour of BEES private museum.

From start to finish of this tour I was both fascinated and in complete awe. We were surrounded by massive presses filled with stuffed animals which we were able to open and discover what lay within. Any animal or insect you can imagine was in this room. Some of the original specimens collected by Charles Darwin during his voyage aboard the Beagle were even on display. I got to see a kitten with two heads, an elephants tooth, quadruplet armadillos and so much more. It was like entering the movie A Night At The Museum!

Our guide explained what many of the specimen were and it was a wonderful opportunity to ask questions. I learned so much in this one room, for example how animals are preserved than I have in nearly all my year so far in TY! This tour was an amazing start to the week and perfectly set up the rest of the programme. I really appreciated how the programme was designed. It was aimed directly at Transition Years and all the information was conveyed effectively. Everyone was so friendly and I just wish I could come back again!


I found my week in BEES highly enjoyable and informative about the areas of Zoology, Geology, Ecology, Environmental Science and Biology.  What really surprised me about the week was how much I loved the practicals in all the different subject areas of BEES. I normally find the practical side of science dull in comparison to the theory but the experiments we got to do during the week were so innovative and exciting that I was really engaged and interested throughout. My favourite practicals  included “Finding the DNA in strawberries” and “Identifying animal hairs under a microscope”.

My favourite part of the week in general were the lectures and practicals centred around animals. I specifically loved learning about bird ringing and I found it so fascinating to see the different breeds of birds up close and to note the differences in their colour, size and feathers.  I also really enjoyed the Zoology and Ecology lecture we had on wild cats.

Another amazing feature of the week was having the opportunity to have a guided tour of the UCC campus and to see the Eureka Centre and the Boole Library in depth. It was really interesting to learn about the history of UCC and I loved seeing how eco-friendly the campus was. Thank you so much to everyone involved in organising this week for us especially Dr Tom Quirke it was amazing !

Jake Coffey- Bandon Grammar School

This week in the school of bees was great. I thought that the lectures were all very interesting and the professors were passionate about what they did. Some of my favourite lectures were the Marine biology lecture, the ERI tour and the bird practical and lecture. My favourite part overall though was the DNA practical. Prof. Wingler explained very well about plant genes and how humans have mutated them to be better crops. Then when we did the practical- extracting DNA from strawberries, it was cool to see what she was talking about in real life. It was much more simple than is was expecting as well. The experiment only used common household items like washing-up liquid and salt. The experiment involved mashing up the strawberry in a plastic bag and then straining out the juice. We added the juice to a specific amount of the washing up liquid, salt and water solution and stirred for about five minutes. Then two teaspoons of isopropyl alcohol were added carefully to the top. After about five minutes white strands were forming in the layer of alcohol. We were able to pick these up with the forceps and take a look. Right there was strawberry DNA. I thought it was really cool to be able extract something myself, that is too small to see normally and be able to look at it. I really recommend this program to any Transition Years who are interested in science. There is something for everyone!

Busy BEES at Work in UCC

By Hannah Fenton

Loreto Secondary School, Fermoy

A group of 29 lucky students from all around Ireland had the unbeelievable opportunity to spend a week studying at the School of Biological Earth and Environmental Sciences in University College Cork. I was fortunate enough to count myself among these students and I spent an incredible week at the university learning all about the BEES degree itself and all the different doors it could open for me. I would love to become a Marine Biologist when I grow up and this week I got to learn how to get where I want to be! UCC offers an excellent degree in Zoology and then if I’m still determined to become a Marine Biologist, UCC even has a Masters course in Marine Biology. After our tour of UCC and its campus, where we got to learn all about the rich history of the college and all the amazing resources available to students like the Boole Library, I couldn’t think of a more perfect place for me to study and grow as a person and aspiring scientist! Definitely the highlight of the week for me was getting the opportunity to talk to Dr. Mark Jessop. Dr. Jessop told us about his travels to the Artic, Antarctic and he even spent 2.5 years in Bird Island, South Georgia! He told us all about his daily life on the island, studying the seals and wildlife on the island. And I have to say it sounds absolutely fascinating, especially as that is what I would love to do that when I’m older!

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