The 2011 Galway Science and Technology Festival Exhibition, part of Discover Science’s National Science Week, was held on the NUI Galway campus last Sunday and attracted 24,000 visitors. The event was officially opened by the European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn and guest speakers included Dr James Browne, President of NUI Galway, Mayor of Galway City Cllr Hildegarde Naughton and Mr Tom Hyland, Festival Chairman.
The European Commissioner commented, “It is a great pleasure for me to welcome everyone to the 2011 Galway Science & Technology Festival Exhibition. The foundation and nurtuing of this festival took vision and dedication and its existence is thanks to the vision of Noel Treacey whose brain-child it is. His work and that of strong supporters like Dr Jim Browne and Tom Hyland as well as many of the companies, educational institutes and researchers, have made this a festival of which to be very proud. For the past two weeks over thousands of young people have taken part in the Festival and engaged with scientists and researchers, asking questions and really getting in touch with science and technology. These young people are the scientists and innovators of tomorrow, and events like this festival are very important in stimulating their curiousity. As a former teacher, I know very well the importance of capturing a child’s imagination at an early age. This is especially important in the case of science and technology, since they pervade almost every aspect of modern life. In today’s economic climate it is more important than ever to ensure that young people are equipped with the skills that they need to succeed. And we need science and technology to get our economy back on track.”
The event ran extremely well with up to 100 volunteers, which included students from the Dominican College Secondary School, NUI Galway and members of the public, who provided information and directions to families attending the 80 interactive exhibition stands and the various shows and workshops throughout the University campus. Families and children enjoyed an array of colourful stands including Medtronic who demonstrated how blood pumps around the body, Boston Scientific’s amazing stand with a large stent for children to examine, SAP provided a First Lego League, Hewlett Packard with the help of sixth class students from Briarhill School explained Cloud Computing while other amazing stands were hosted by CISCO, Covidien Avaya and Lake Region. The Galway Enterprise Board stand included local company Starlight and a new App “Ireland: Are we there Yet” by local developer Ann Brehony. The stands allowed children and adults alike to participate in experiments, watch demonstrations and discuss ideas with researchers. Lots more interatactive exhibitions took place from NUI Galway, GMIT, Marine Institute and many more.
A lego competition sponsored by Smyth’s Toys Superstore was in huge demand and accommodated over 300 eager technic lego builders while the 5ft tall Buzz Light Year made of Lego was on loan from Smyth’s for the day was a huge hit with hundreds of children. Sue McGrath’s Chemistry Show was seen by 1,000 people, the Mad Scientist entertained and excited young children about science while Robert Hill explained the Outerworld in his own amazing and engaging way. The RCX Mindstorm lego workshop was in huge demand and Magic Mathworks demonstrated a great way of engaging with maths. Kitchen Chemistry ran shows throughout the day and educated visitors on how to conduct experiments in the kitchen using regular household products while Bubble Magic had the audience screaming with excitement creating huge bubbles and filling them with smoke.
One of the major successes of the Exhibition was a total of 18 Primary and Secondary Schools encompassing 350 students exhibiting their own brilliant science and technology projects while many other students took part by participating with the international companies and helped them demonstrate their products. The opportunity for these young people to attend and work at the Exhibition and engage with the public is of enormous experience for them.
Festival Chairman, Tom Hyland commented, “Special thanks must go to the Volunteers who helped in running the event so smoothly and allowing families enjoy their day out. The prebooking system of shows worked wonderfully and really helped people plan their day and those without tickets were also accommodated. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank our main sponsor Medtronic and all other sponsors and the multi-national companies who have agreed to take part in our Mentoring Program where 11 different companies participating in this initiative will visit schools over the next few months and talk to the students about their subject choices, give practical career advice and share their work experience. I would also like to thank NUI Galway for providing the campus facilities to host this truly wonderful event.”
Mr Hyland also presented special awards on behalf of the Festival Committee to Brother Niall of the Patrician Brothers with the 2011 Galway Science & Technology Person of the Year Award for his commitment to the Festival over the 14 years and an award to 12-year old sixth class whizz kid Harry Moran from Westport on becoming the world’s youngest app developer of Pizzabot based on a pizza shooting red sauce at slices of salami which he developed in one month.
Visit www.galwayscience.ie to view some of the photos and videos captured during the Festival Exhibition.