Primary School Children Access All Areas at NUI Galway Summer Camp

Monday, 14 July 2008

Thirty local primary school children will return to campus today for the second week of the annual Access Summer Camp. For a fortnight every July, fifth class children from Scoil Bhríde, Shantalla, Holy Trinity and St Michael's Mervue, are given a flavour of life at University. The children are introduced to a wide range of subjects, from Computers to Chemistry, and get to try out new sporting activities. The camp is organised by Ashla Ward of the Access Office, in partnership with university departments and research institutes, and in conjunction with the sports centre at Áras na Mac Léinn. Further support comes from NUI Galway students and researchers who volunteer their time to demonstrate subjects and chaperone the children around campus. Ashla Ward says: "This fortnight is all about showing the children the possibilities that third-level education can offer. By giving them a flavour of exciting subjects in a child-friendly format, we are hoping to instil an interest in further education. While the Access Office organises the camp, we do so only with the ongoing support of staff and students across campus, who put their time and energy into the fortnight. During the summer camp, science is explored through workshops and experiments, introducing topics such as chemical reactions, genetics and forensics. To illustrate the workings of the human body, the Physiology Department monitors the children's hearts, take their pulses and checks their lung capacity. According to Ashla Ward, "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". NUI Galway's Digital Enterprise Research Institute, uses the child friendly web site Yahooligans! to introduce the group to the Internet. Other sessions include a hands-on workshop in calligraphy from the Moore Institute for Research in the Humanities and Social Studies, and a lesson on collecting and classifying insects from the Environmental Change Institute. Using invisible lasers, the National Centre for Laser Applications show children their names being burned into a piece of wood, which then becomes a memento of the class. Italian was introduced through learning foods and drinks and how to greet a person – Ciao! In a packed schedule, Drama, Art, Music, Hip-hop and storytelling are also included.
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