National Finals of 2012 Debating Science Issues Announced

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

The 2012 Debating Science Issues All-Ireland Finals will be held on Thursday, 19 April, at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland in Dublin. The Finals, co-ordinated by the Regenerative Medicine Institute (REMEDI) at NUI Galway, will see four teams of secondary school students from across the country debating their way to be crowned All-Ireland champions. This is the only All-Ireland collaborative science outreach initiative of its kind. 

A field of 40 schools has been narrowed to just four through 36 provincial rounds of debates held between January and March. The four secondary schools in the final will be: St. Catherine’s Vocational School, Killybegs, Donegal; Clonakilty Community College, Co. Cork; St. Andrews College, Blackrock, Dublin; and Abbey Vocational School, Donegal Town. 

The first two debates, St. Catherine’s Vocational School against St. Andrews College, and Abbey Vocational School against Clonakilty Community College, will focus on the moral obligation to explore research with embryonic stem cells due to the potential to develop new medical treatments.  The winners of the debates will then meet to debate the necessity of animal testing for advancing disease treatment.

Debating Science Issues encourages young people to engage in debate on the cultural, societal and ethical implications of advances in biomedical science. The competition is led by REMEDI at NUI Galway and collaborators include APC at UCC, BDI at DCU, RCSI, CIT, CRANN at Trinity College, W5 in Belfast, Clarity at UCD and the Centre for Cross Border Studies in Armagh. 

Danielle Nicholson, All-Ireland Co-ordinator of Debating Science Issues (DSI), said: “This project provides a great opportunity for the teachers and students to be exposed to some of the latest developments in biomedical research and also to consider the ethical elements which can be a great hook to interest the public in the scientific topics. Data collected from five cycles of DSI involving more than 3,500 students shows an increase in interest in science as a subject and as a career as a result of participation in the project.”

This schools’ biomedical science workshop series and debate competition has been supported by the Wellcome Trust for five consecutive years.  Provincial trophies and prizes are provided by Abbott Ireland, Boston Scientific, Merck- Millipore and Pfizer Ireland. 

Every year the project has evolved and has responded to the feedback gathered continuously throughout the project.  This year a new Topic Guide on rare diseases has been introduced and a dedicated website has also been developed, www.debatingscienceissues.com .

-ENDS-

Author: Marketing and Communications Office, NUI Galway
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