Apr 15 2015 Posted: 09:42 IST

Organ donations and embryonic stem cells will be themes in final debates

The eighth All-Ireland Finals of Debating Science Issues (DSI) will take place on Wednesday, 29 April at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland in Dublin. The competition originated at NUI Galway as a regional event.

Through a process of single elimination, the field of 32 secondary schools narrowed to just four representing all four provinces in Ireland.

Ballinrobe Community School will be one of four provincial schools competing at the Finals event. This is the first time that a school from County Mayo will represent the west of Ireland. Other schools competing in the Finals include: Clonakilty Community School, Co. Cork; Our Lady and St Patrick’s College, Knock, Belfast; and St Vincent’s Secondary School, Dundalk, Co. Louth.

This All-Ireland science debating competition encourages young people to engage in dialogue on the cultural, societal and ethical implications of advances in biomedical science.

On the day, there will be two semi-final rounds of debate focussing on the moral obligation to research with embryonic stem cells to develop new medical treatments. The winners of the two semi-final rounds will go on to debate the allocation of organs donated for transplantation.

“Ballinrobe students have worked very hard in this competition, and to reach the finals, is a major achievement for them. Not only has it had visible effect on their confidence, but it has also elevated the level of interest in scientific issues across the school community,” said Eoin Murphy, science teacher with Ballinrobe Community School and NUI Galway graduate.

Preceding the competition, all participating schools avail of a three hour workshop addressing an area of biomedical research and the surrounding societal and ethical issues. A workshop to highlight the implications and the treatment of lifestyle-related diseases was facilitated at the Ballinrobe Community School last year by REDDSTAR’s Dissemination Officer Danielle Nicholson, Coordinator of the Debating Science Issues project.

The nine DSI partners in 2015: REDDSTAR coordinated at NUI Galway; Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre at UCC; Biomedical Diagnostics Institute at DCU; The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland; Amber at Trinity College; W5 in Belfast; INSIGHT at UCD; Cork Institute of Technology; and the University of Ulster, Coleraine. The DSI 2015 Finals have been supported by Science Foundation Ireland Discover Programme project award.

More information on the competition can be found at www.debatingscienceissues.com.

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