Classrooms all over Galway will be going ‘crash, bang, wallop’ over the next two weeks – as youngsters learn the joys of science as part of the Galway Science and Technology Festival.
For included in the shows going out to schools starting next Monday, are ones on building your own water-propelled rockets, and a mad science show which promises ice storms, giant smoke rings, and smokey bubbles.
And, that’s before Mr Bug arrives with snakes, stick insects, cockroaches, snails, millipedes, tarantulas, scorpions and lizards – all in the interests of teaching kids about the world around them.
Students at the True Physics Show will form teams to research, design and build the most efficient rockets possible. And then they will get to launch their creations and watch the rockets fly hundreds of feet into the air.
Meanwhile, for those who are more ambitious and want to see what it really might be like to be in space, the Armagh Planetarium is bringing its new Stardome, there will be a special 3D show dealing with interplanetary travel, and there will also be special 3D shows at the NUI, Galway Centre for Astronomy.
The ‘magic’ of science will never be far from the centre of the Science and Technology Festival, which runs from November 7 to 21. Dr Malachy Thompson will be in the Galway Civic Museum with his ‘explosive science laboratory’ and scientist Sue McGrath promises ‘magic moments’ in dealing with forces, energy, sound, heat and light.
Meanwhile, NUI Galway will be throwing open its Zoology and Geology museums, and there will be special tours of the college’s National Centre for Biomedical Engineering Science (NCBES ) and other research areas. The NCBES will present an outline of the links among science, engineering and medicine.
The serious aim behind all the activity is to increase the uptake by students of studies in areas such as maths, science and engineering.
As part of this mission, major industries will also be mentoring students in second level schools, telling them about careers in areas such as medical devices – now one of the west’s key industrial sectors, with thousands of jobs in a number of centres.
The major industrial sponsor of the Festival is Medtronic Inc, the global leader in medical devices, which employs 2,000 in Galway and 44,000 worldwide in over 120 countries. Medtronic will be among the companies sending out mentors to schools during the Festival.
Caroline Healy, Senior Learning Development Manager with Medtronic, said this week that the mentoring process was immensely rewarding for both the students and the mentors from Medtronic who went out into the schools to tell them of careers, opportunities and the challenges of working in the medical device sector.
The mentors, she said, would include research and development engineers, production engineers, quality engineers and chemist/engineers who would be telling students why they chose careers in the science and engineering area, the rewarding careers within the area, and would show them DVDs on key areas of the medical device sector.
She added that the rewards from such visits were ‘both ways’ – the students got a real insight into areas like science and engineering and the mentors found the enthusiasm of the students to be infectious.
The Galway Science and Technology Festival starts on November 7 and continues until November 21 when the festival exhibition will be opened in the Bailey Allen Hall, NUI, Galway by European Commissioner Maire Geoghegan-Quinn.