REMEDI's Schools' Science Essay Competition was launched in 2005 to stimulate discussion among students on the ethical and societal implications of advances in biomedical research. The aim is to generate interest in science among second level students and encourage more to go on to study science at third level.
Last year's competition generated a lot of interest in science issues among students, with an increase of over double the number of entries since 2005. The eventual winner was Paul Kelliher from Killorglin, Co. Kerry.
Professor Tim O Brien, Director, REMEDI, explained: "The purpose of this project, as with all our secondary school initiatives, is to encourage young people to take an active interest in contemporary scientific research, and to consider a career in this field. Science communication should always be a two way process. While it is important for REMEDI personnel to publicly discuss research taking place in the areas of stem cell and gene therapy, it is equally important for our scientists to listen to the public's views on this research – and we've found 16-18 year olds are more than eager to express their views on some of the questions raised by this research."
This year's essay is 'Genetic Engineering: Panacea or Pandora's Box?': As scientists advance their ability to identify, screen and manipulate genes; is gene therapy a potential panacea for the terrible illnesses we cannot cure, or a Pandora's box where genetically enhanced 'designer babies' with perfect looks and high IQs become a reality?".
Winners of the competition in 2005 and 2006 were presented with their prizes at the BT Young Scientist Festival in Dublin, by Minister for Education & Science Mary Hanafin T.D. This year's competition prizes include a laptop, iPOD, crystal trophies and school prizes of science equipment bursaries.
Full details of the competition rules, helpful hints and additional information on how to enter are available on the education section of the REMEDI website www.remedi.ie.
REMEDI is an SFI funded research institute at the National Centre for Biomedical Engineering Science located at NUI Galway.