Galway’s budding young scientists entertained at festival

Four-years-old Sophie Foley gets scientific at the Galway Science and Technology exhibition at the weekend. Photo: Carmel Marzouk

Four-years-old Sophie Foley gets scientific at the Galway Science and Technology exhibition at the weekend. Photo: Carmel Marzouk

Some 24,000 visitors thronged NUIG on Sunday to enjoy the 2011 Galway Science and Technology Festival Exhibition.

Part of Discover Science’s National Science Week, the event attracted both young and old to hundreds of displays and shows.

One of the most popular for youngsters was the Lego competition sponsored by Smyth’s Toys Superstore which accommodated more than 300 eager Technic Lego builders, while the 5ft tall Buzz Light Year made of Lego was a huge hit with hundreds of children.

Sue McGrath’s Chemistry Show was seen by 1,000 people, the Mad Scientist entertained and excited young children about science, while Robert Hill explained the Outerworld in his own amazing and engaging way. Magic Mathworks demonstrated a great way of engaging with maths, while Kitchen Chemistry educated visitors on how to conduct experiments in the kitchen using regular household products. Another big hit with the youngsters was Bubble Magic which created huge bubbles filled with smoke.

Eighty interactive exhibition stands, including 18 from primary and secondary schools, were involved at the event which was run by 100 volunteers, including students from the Dominican College Secondary School, NUI Galway, and members of the public. Among the companies involved were Boston Scientific with a large stent for children to examine, SAP, which provided a first Lego League, Hewlett Packard, which, with the help of sixth class students from Briarhill School, explained Cloud Computing, while other stands were hosted by CISCO, Covidien Avaya and Lake Region.

The event was officially opened by the European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, who said the foundation and nurtuing of the festival was a result of the vision and dedication of Noel Treacey.

“His work, and that of strong supporters like Dr Jim Browne and Tom Hyland, as well as many of the companies, educational institutes and researchers, have made this a festival of which to be very proud. For the past two weeks over thousands of young people have taken part in the festival and engaged with scientists and researchers, asking questions and really getting in touch with science and technology. These young people are the scientists and innovators of tomorrow, and events like this festival are very important in stimulating their curiousity.”

Festival chairman Tom Hyland said special thanks must go to the volunteers, main sponsor Medtronic, and the multi-national companies which had agreed to take part in the mentoring programme. Eleven companies participating in this initiative will visit schools over the next few months and talk to the students about their subject choices, give practical career advice and share their work experience.

Brother Niall of the Patrician Brothers was presented with the 2011 Galway Science & Technology Person of the Year Award for his commitment to the festival over the 14 years, while 12-year old sixth class whizz kid Harry Moran fromWestport became the world’s youngest app developer of Pizzabot based on a pizza shooting red sauce at slices of salami which he developed in one month.

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