Science Week 2021 aims to get public involved in creating the future

1 Nov 2021

Children at the launch of Cork Science Festival. Image: Darragh Kane

This year’s Science Week offers a bonanza of events ranging from elephant care to rocket making and beyond.

Science Week, the annual celebration organised by Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), is due to kick off this weekend.

This year’s hybrid Science Week will see hundreds of events taking place around the country, both in-person and virtually, from Sunday 7 November to Sunday 14 November. Most events will be online and will be free to join, but registration may be required.

Future Human

Offerings include a daily online show, Science Week Live, made by Gen Z for Gen Z. The showrunners will receive a little help from well-known scientist Dr Niamh Shaw for this free livestreamed show that will review and discuss all things Science Week. It will be streamed from 5pm to 5:30pm on weekdays.

Elsewhere, the Phil Smyth Quiz on Friday 12 November will test participants’ science knowledge, giving them a chance to win some fantastic prizes.

Dr Naomi Lavelle will also host a rocket-making show called Actually it is Rocket Science. Budding scientists can learn how to make their own rockets in a step-by-step workshop, which will run throughout the week.

Those with an interest in zoology, meanwhile, will get to meet Dublin Zoo’s herd of Asian elephants and hear about how science plays a role in their care.

SFI is working with a number of organisations and individuals to support this year’s Science Week, including RTÉ 2FM’s Doireann Garrihy and Carl Mullan, comedy duo The 2 Johnnies, podcaster and author Blindboy Boatclub, and immunologist Prof Luke O’Neill.

This year, there will also be 14 Science Week festivals taking place across the country, with events in Cork, Galway, Sligo, Kilkenny, Wexford and more.

‘Use your voice’

Science Week 2021 is partnering the Government’s Creating Our Future campaign, which aims to get the public involved in science research. The campaign, which launched in July, is encouraging people to submit their ideas for scientific research for the betterment of society. Submissions are open until the end of this month.

Speaking at the launch of Science Week 2021 today (1 November), Minister for Further and Higher Education, Innovation and Science Simon Harris, TD, appealed for the public to get involved in Creating Our Future.

“We want you to have your say on what we should be focusing on and what your priorities are,” he said. “So get involved, and use your voice and help us overcome the challenges our country and our world faces”.

Harris called Science Week an “opportunity to engage with science in fun, informative and creative ways”.

SFI director general Prof Mark Ferguson, who is the Government’s chief science adviser, echoed Harris’ sentiments and also acknowledged the work done by Irish scientists during the pandemic.

“Covid-19 has been incredibly challenging for everyone, but we have seen the best of what science and research has to offer in providing solutions and creating a better future for us all. I am delighted to say that Irish scientists, doctors and researchers have played a fundamental role throughout the pandemic.”

This is Ferguson’s last Science Week as SFI director general. He will be replaced in 2022 by NPHET chair Prof Philip Nolan. Ferguson said it was particularly important to celebrate science this year as Ireland moves “out of the pandemic” and begins to think about the future.

For a full list of the events, workshops and talks across the country, visit the Science Week website.

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Blathnaid O’Dea is Careers reporter at Silicon Republic