Bright young things head to science summer school


11 Jul 2008

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What do you do with a head full of ideas and the Leaving Cert approaching in the next year? Some 70 fifth-year students from 53 schools around Ireland headed off to University College Dublin (UCD) to take part ion the first ever science summer school.

The aim of this summer course was to give second-level students with an interest in science and technology a taster of all the kind of hard and soft sciences they can choose from when the time comes to fill in the CAO forms.

As part of this programme the students paid a visit to the various schools, sampling exciting aspects of each primary discipline: at the school of chemistry and chemical biology students helped formulate and produce Paracetamol, while their visit to the school of physics led to the building of a telescope.

At the school of computer science and informatics, the students had a go at software engineering by scripting some programming languages and then headed on to the school of mathematics to calculate the probability of winning in a draw where I’m sure a few found out the depressingly miniscule chances of ever winning the Lotto. (Best to invest your Lotto money in a college education, eh?)

Possibly the coolest part of the programme was time spent at the school of geological sciences where the school kids learned that the weather this summer is not so volatile when put in perspective: 340 million years ago we were in a tropical paradise here in Ireland, which turned into a desert 100 million years later, followed by the Ice Age.

“The aim of the UCD Science Summer School is to give secondary school students who are going into sixth year next September an opportunity to experience a day in the life of a UCD Science undergraduate student,” said Dr Orla Donoghue, chief programme co-ordinator from the UCD Science Programme Office.

“With this year’s success, plans are already underway for next year’s Summer School,” she added.

By Marie Boran