Science & Tech Fest launched by rugby hero O’Kelly

Students from St Joseph’s Collage Eoin Griffin and Shay O’Malley pictured with former Irish rugby international player Malcolm O’Kelly trying out the Medtronic simulator at the launch of the 18th Galway Science & Technology festival at Medtronic. Also in picture is Medtronic staff member Ronan Wood.
Picture: Hany Marzouk

Students from St Joseph’s Collage Eoin Griffin and Shay O’Malley pictured with former Irish rugby international player Malcolm O’Kelly trying out the Medtronic simulator at the launch of the 18th Galway Science & Technology festival at Medtronic. Also in picture is Medtronic staff member Ronan Wood. Picture: Hany Marzouk

The launch of the 18th Galway Science and Technology Festival, part of National Science Week, was hosted by the main sponsor Medtronic in their Customer Innovation Centre, Parkmore on Monday  The 2015 Festival will see 180 events and 35,000 primary and secondary school students take part in shows and workshops from November 9-22. This year’s Festival will explore and celebrate “Science Week 2.0 - Design Your Future” in this International Year of Light at events in schools, colleges, research institutes, companies and community centres across Galway City and County. 

Students at the launch in Medtronic heard from former Irish international rugby player and qualified engineer Malcolm O’Kelly who said that when in school, while he loved sport, he always had an interest in maths and science.

“After school I was lucky enough to be able to go on and pursue a career in rugby and played for both Leinster and Ireland internationally. While pursuing this career I also qualified in college as a civil engineer.

“It’s that degree that has stood to me since my career in sport ended. I’m now working in the sector and finding it to be a really challenging and rewarding industry to be in. I’d encourage all of you today to pursue your passion. Whether your passion is be in sport, medicine, fashion or art you can be guaranteed you’ll need technology whatever path you take. This is why Festivals like the upcoming one in Galway are so important to ensure you understand all the opportunities available to you,” he said.

Students in primary schools can look forward to the return of the popular Kitchen Chemistry – The Amazing World of Chemical Wonders; Bug Doctor introducing students to insects, bugs and much bigger creatures, Lego Education Workshop will introduce robotics to young children and for junior and senior infants Little Cells is back again, introducing students to the concept of cells that form our body. Learn all about software and app development with visits to the Galway Atlantaquaria to partake in workshops and enjoy a tour of the Aquarium. 

Secondary schools can also avail of many brilliant shows that bring science to life including Dr Ken’s Circus, which reveals the scientific principles used by circus performers using gravity in their stunts, True Physics shows students how to launch rockets and and learn about flight pressure and perform live experiments in Scientific Sue’s Chemistry Show and a Transition Year workshop by WhizzKids. 

Scientists from NUI Galway are participating by offering both school roadshows and on-campus events. School visits include the much sought after Cell Explorers workshop Fantastic DNA, during which children prepare DNA from bananas, and Little Cells, an introduction to cells for the youngest students. New this year are Under the Microscope an introduction to microscopy for primary school students, a Biomaterials Workshop presented by the CÚRAM Centre for Research in Medical Devices, a Scrapheap Challenge in which participants build a model car from everyday materials, and much more. Visitors to the outdoor classroom in the Terryland Forest Park will have opportunities to plant a new wildflower meadow and to learn about local habitats and about conservation and biodiversity. On-campus events include tours of the Geology, Marine Biology and Computer Museums. 

Astronaut visit

ESA Astronaut Paolo Nespoli will visit GMIT on Wednesday November 11 and over 500 secondary school students will get to meet the Italian Astronaut and also attend GMIT’s new Game Zone initiative, which will include Laser Grid, Lego Robots, Photoshop workshop, Smart Car in Action and Wave Phenomena. The GMIT Scientist in Residence will bring mentors to schools and the workshop on Plastic Oceans will also visit schools. 

The Marine Institute in Oranmore will host an Open Day for Transition Year students on Thursday 12th November where students will be invited to meet the scientists and see the work of the Marine Institute through a series of exhibitions including marine environment, fisheries, seafood safety, seabed mapping, research vessel operations and oceanography, as well as getting information and advice on marine careers. 

The Reel Life Science NUIG video competition for primary and secondary schools which aims to promote Science to a wider audience is being judged this year by Canadian Astronaut Cmdr. Chris Hadfield, Trinity College Dublin’s Prof. Aoife McLysaght and BT Young Scientist’s Ian O’Sullivan and Eimear Murphy.. The competition was extended national wide in 2014 to much success and involves making a 1-3 minute video communicating a scientific topic in an engaging and entertaining way. A selection of this year’s videos will be screened in the City Museum on Tuesday 10th and Wednesday 11th November in addition to CURAM’s art exhibition. 

Galway Science and Technology Festival Chairman, Tom Hyland said, “We are looking forward to a wonderful two week celebration learning how to Design Our Future and invite everyone to join us on our final day Exhibition on Sunday 22nd November at NUI Galway. During the two weeks students the length and breadth of the county will be participating in demonstrations, shows and workshops all geared towards inspiring the students to develop an interest in the STEM subjects.” He added “I would like to thank our main sponsor for the last 14 years Medtronic who help bring all the shows and workshops free to the students and also greatly appreciate the support of our partners SFI Discover, Boston Scientific, Cisco, Galway Local Enterprise Board, NUI Galway, GMIT, Avaya, Hewlett Packard, Fidelity Investments, Creganna, Merit Medical, IDA Ireland, Galway County Council, The Marine Institute, Údarás na Gaeltachta and Enterprise Ireland.” 

Tony Neary, Senior Director Site operations, Medtronic said: “This is Medtronic’s 14th year as the competition’s lead sponsor and we’re delighted to be hosting the launch at our premises here in Galway today. Our support underlines the importance we place on promoting science and technology among young people. It helps them to develop a stronger environmental awareness of what shapes their world, and encourages the pursuit of careers in science, technology and engineering. Medtronic is a global leader in medical technology, services and solutions, and we improve the lives and health of millions of people each year. We push the boundaries of innovation to help people live better, longer lives. I’m looking forward to the upcoming Festival and I’d encourage all students, teachers and parents to come along and get involved.” 

Professor Dónal Leech, Dean of Science at NUI Galway said, “NUI Galway research, contributing to designing your future across science, technology, engineering and mathematics, will be presented during the festival to students, parents and the public. Our research-led teaching, delivered by some of the world’s most influential scientific minds inspires students, staff and industry to deepen our knowledge-base, and generate new technologies. This festival is a key event to foster engagement with science and research, for NUI Galway and the nation. The NUI Galway campus is looking forward to hosting once again the final day Exhibition of the festival.” 

Dr Des Foley, Head of School of Science at Galway Mayo Institute of Technology added, “In recent years we have seen unprecedented growth in the number of students on our science and technology courses in GMIT. This festival is a very important part of our year and we look forward to launching new events and workshops in the weeks ahead.” 

Teachers can book a workshop or show for their school by completing the booking form on the website www.galwayscience.ie, all shows and workshops are free to the school. Booking details for events at NUI Galway and GMIT are available on the website. 

The final day Festival Exhibition takes place on Sunday November 22 10am – 6pm. Tickets for the shows and workshops will be available for booking on www.galwayscience.eventbrite.com from Saturday 14th November. Visit www.scienceweek.ie for details of events nationwide or alternatively organise your own event – check out the ‘Get Involved’ guide www.scienceweek.ie/resources/get-involved/ Connect on Twitter @galwaysciencefe and on www.facebook.com/galwayscience and use the hashtag #scienceweek and #GalwayScience to join the conversation.

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