Young scientists from Galway Educate Together National School and St James National School Bushypark Galway are supporting the Fantastic DNA National school roadshow with Cell EXPLORERS team members Adrianna Souza Cardinot and Ivor Geoghegan.
Sep 28 2016 Posted: 10:48 IST

The Cell EXPLORERS science outreach programme is delighted to announce its “Fantastic DNA” national roadshow 2016.

Started in the NUI Galway School of Natural Sciences four years ago, the roadshow will once again visit primary schools to bring hands on experiments to pupils in Ireland. The visits will take place this term, including during Science Week in November, allowing up to 2,000 children to experiment like real scientists in their own classrooms. Interested schools should visit www.cellexplorers.com to book a visit.

This year’s visits will be delivered by five Cell EXPLORERS teams based in higher education institutions. The Cell EXPLORERS national network has recently expanded with the launch of two new partner teams in the Institute of Technology Tralee and Dundalk Institute of Technology, in addition to the existing teams in Athlone Institute of Technology, the University of Limerick and NUI Galway.

Funded by a two year Science Foundation Ireland Discover award, the five teams will send students and staff to visit primary schools in their localities to share in the excitement of science.

Last year, 64 scientists from the teams based in NUI Galway, University of Limerick and Athlone Institute of Technology visited 24 schools throughout the country and taught 1,285 children about cells and DNA using hands-on activities and experiments. Half of the children visited had never met a scientist before and the pupils’ feedback was unanimously positive. They enjoyed meeting and talking to the scientists, as well as getting to do fun science in their classrooms.  “You are the best at teaching science and thank you for taking time to teach us more” said one 5th class pupil in County Galway. “I learned that scientists don’t just study, they explore new things and can get many jobs” commented another sixth class pupil from County Clare.

Teachers hosting the “Fantastic DNA” visit pointed out that it had a marked impact on the pupils and brought a lot of excitement about science to their classrooms. One teacher from County Roscommon said: “It was a really enjoyable and memorable day. The children talk about it nearly every day since.” Teachers also highlighted as major positives the hands-on nature of the session and the small demonstrator to pupil ratio, both core aspects of how Cell EXPLORERS operates.

Dr Ruth Freeman, Director of Strategy and Communications, Science Foundation Ireland commented: “Cell EXPLORERS is piloting a unique way of directly involving Ireland’s colleges in engaging young people in science. The programme, which is being rolled out nationally, allows scientists to foster a love of science in the children of their local community. This directly supports Science Foundation Ireland’s goal to have the most scientifically engaged and informed public, will increase the pipeline of students opting to study STEM subjects, and at the same time contributes to training the next generation of Irish science communicators and educators.”

This year, the new Dundalk IT and IT Tralee teams are eager to get started and to contribute to the national roadshow.

Dr Geraldine Twamley Stein, lecturer in the school of Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), and coordinator of the IT Tralee Cell EXPLORERS team with Dr Antoinette O’Grady, said: "It is important for IT Tralee to take part in Cell EXPLORERS as this is community outreach at its best. It mobilizes STEM by going ‘face to face’ with primary school children and bringing science education into the young-learner environment. It raises the profile of our college by IT Tralee engaging in meaningful involvement with the community.”

Dr Suzanne Linnane, senior lecturer in the department of applied Science at Dundalk IT, is the new Dundalk IT team coordinator. "I am already very involved in community science outreach on the topic of my own research, in particular with the ‘All about Water’ programme. I am interested by the format of the Cell EXPLORERS visits and how they contribute to build the skills and confidence of our students at Dundalk IT, which could lead some to reconsider their career goals, as well as bringing them into the heart of our community."

Schools can request a “Fantastic DNA” visit by contacting the team closest to their location via email using the following addresses: Athlone IT: cellexplorersait@gmail.com, Dundalk IT: cellexplorersdkit@gmail.com, IT Tralee: cellexplorersittralee@gmail.com , UL: cellexplorersul@gmail.com, NUI Galway: cellexplorers@nuigalway.ie. You can find out more about the Fantastic DNA Roadshow and Cell EXPLORERS team activities on the programme’s website www.cellexplorers.com, or by following Cell EXPLORERS on Facebook or Twitter (@cellexplorers).

Cell EXPLORERS activities, and the expansion of the programme to other institutions, is funded by a two year award from Science Foundation Ireland, NUI Galway and by the NUI Galway Foundation.

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