NUI Galway brings science to school students

14 Jul 2008

Children in Galway are gaining extraordinary insights into science and technology this month through National University of Ireland (NUI), Galway’s Access Summer Camp.

For a fortnight every July, fifth-class students from local schools are given a flavour of life at university and exposed to a wide range of subjects from computers to chemistry.

This year NUI Galway’s Digital Enterprise Research Institute (DERI) is introducing the group of 30 children to the internet via a dedicated portal site and the National Centre for Laser Applications (NCLA) is showing them how invisible lasers can burn their names into a piece of wood.

Brendan Smith, outreach manger at DERI, said his workshop aims to show how the internet can be used as a learning mechanism. “ allows children to access a massive number of educational and fun websites. We’ll be looking at things such as space exploration, climate change and biodiversity, using interactive features on the site.”

Meanwhile, Tony Flaherty, manager of outreach and networking at NCLA, said his workshop allows children to see the practical uses of lasers in industry.

“We show them videos of robots using lasers to weld in car manufacture, as well as giving examples of how lasers are used in really precise drilling in the making of medical devices at companies here in Galway.”

There are also workshops and experiments which look at topics such as chemical reactions, genetics and forensics.

The science aspects of the camp are organised by the Access Office, in partnership with university departments and research institutes. Students and researchers volunteer their time to demonstrate subjects and chaperone the children around campus.

“The hands-on aspect of the science programmes brings the sciences to life for the children. Apart from being huge fun, the workshops have a positive effect on the children’s perception of science as a subject to consider studying in the future,” said Ashla Ward, organiser of the camp.

By Sorcha Corcoran

Pictured at the Access Summer Camp in NUI Galway examining environmental issues were Alex Ryan and David Ahern from 5th class, Scoil Bhríde