20,000 turn out for final day of Galway Science and Technology Festival

James and Simon Pereira  with a model of the Celtic Explorer in NUI Galway as part of the Galway Science & Technology Festival.
 Photo: Andrew Downes, Xposure.

James and Simon Pereira with a model of the Celtic Explorer in NUI Galway as part of the Galway Science & Technology Festival. Photo: Andrew Downes, Xposure.

The 19th Galway Science and Technology Festival welcomed another record breaking 20,000 visitors to its annual final day Exhibition at NUI Galway last Sunday, and honoured several people on the day with major science awards. The two-week Festival culminated in the final day Exhibition and also brought 180 STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths ) shows and workshops to 35,000 primary and secondary school students across Galway City and County.

The ‘2016 Science Person of the Year’ was awarded to Tom Hyland, the founding member and Chairman of Galway Science & Technology Forum. Tom founded the Festival in 1998 with Noel Treacy, the then Minister for Science, Technology & Commerce. Tom has been central to growing the festival from its inception to being the biggest free Science Festival in Ireland and Europe.

Under his leadership Tom expanded the scope of the festival outside its two weeks in November to other areas promoting STEM, including the globally regarded CERN Accelerating Science Exhibition brought to Galway in 2012, and TeenTech by Tomorrow’s World presenter Maggie Philbin.

Over 24 primary and secondary schools from Galway City and County demonstrated their innovative science and engineering projects at the Exhibition. Each school project was judged by Conor Clifford, Festival member, Ronan Rogers, Director of Research & Development, Medtronic, Professor Dónal Leech, Dean, College of Science, NUI Galway, Dr Des Foley, Head of the School of Science, GMIT and Dr Michael Cotter from the European Union Science Olympiad.

The overall best primary school project winner was St. John the Apostle N.S., Knocknacarra and the overall best secondary school project was Coláiste Bhaile Chláir, Claregalway. The best ‘Technology Exhibit’ was won by Milltown N.S., the best ‘Physics & Chemistry Exhibit’ was won by Coláiste an Chláir ín, Athenry and the best ‘Lifesciences Exhibit’ was won by Gaelscoil de hÍde, Oranmore.

Dr Jim Browne, President of NUI Galway presented the ‘Outstanding Achievement Award’ to the 2016 BT Young Scientist winners, Maria Louise Fufezan and Diana Bura from Loreto Secondary School, Balbriggan, Dublin. Dr Enda O’Connell from NUI Galway presented the awards to the winning schools of the ReelLIFE SCIENCE video competition where more than 200 fun science videos were produced by 2,000 primary and secondary school students in over 100 schools across Ireland.

The overall ReelLIFE SCIENCE 2016 primary school €1,000 prize went to Gaelscoil Riabhach, Loughrea for their video ‘Life in Space – An Saol sa Spás and the overall secondary school €1,000 prize was awarded to Patrician High School, Carrickmacross, Co. Monaghan for their video ‘How The Sun Works’. The Primary school 2nd place winner went to Coldwood National School, Craughwell for their video ‘We Need Oxygen’ and 3rd place went to Holy Family School for the Deaf, Cabra, Dublin for their video ‘First Astronauts in Space.’ The secondary school winner in 2nd place went to Cloister Lorain, Castle Dermot, Co. Kildare for their video ‘Gravity Explained’ and 3rd place went to Manor House School, Raheny, Dublin for their video ‘Does Urine Relieve the Pain of a Jellyfish Sting?’

Students from Snipe Resource Centre in Liosbain, Galway won the Medtronic ‘Science Rising’ demonstration award’ for their pulse oximeter demonstrations for young visitors to the Exhibition. The Snipe exhibition stand stemmed from an initiative setup by NUI Galway.

The Galway People’s Resource Centre (GPRC ) and Medtronic Galway provide workshops and activities for students at Snipe with intellectual learning disabilities, which allow them to improve their communication skills and apply what they have learned at the Festival’s final day Exhibition. Campus lecture halls and exhibition areas were packed with families immersing their budding young scientists in all things STEM enjoying over 80 interactive exhibitions, science shows and workshops. The new ‘Gaming Zone’, Medtronic’s engaging and immersive exhibition to the Medical Device world, Bug Doctor, Exploration Dome, the Digital Makers Space and Bubbleology with Sue McGrath drew record crowds.

Other exhibition stands that were a huge hit with visitors both young and old alike were NUI Galway’s Galway Energy Efficient Car (GEEC ), GMIT’s Laser Grid Experience and Building Apps; the Marine Institute’s INFOMAR mapping team, using Xbox gaming technology and a sandbox, showing visitors how to forge instant 3D maps in the sand reflecting the depths of the ocean floor.

Chairman of Galway Science & Technology Festival, Tom Hyland said he was delighted with the huge response to Festival 2016, both the record 20,000 visitors who attended the Exhibition and the 35,000 schools who booked shows and workshops. I would like to sincerely thank the Festival for bestowing me with the award of Science Person of the Year 2016. And special thanks to our main sponsor Medtronic, and all of our wonderful sponsors who enable us to bring this Festival and final day Exhibition for free to so many young people and schools. We hope it has sparked a genuine interest in STEM subjects among our very talented young people in Ireland.”

Ronan Rogers, Director of Research & Development, Medtronic Parkmore said this is Medtronic’s 15th year as the Festival’s main sponsor and 19th year exhibiting at the final day Exhibition.

“Our partnership with the Science & Technology Festival is one of collaboration where our energies focus on exciting and engaging the young scientists of the future.”

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