Young scientists from 5th class Galway Educate Together National School presenting the Cell EXPLORERS network map with Cell EXPLORERS National coordinator Dr Claudia Fracchiolla.
Nov 07 2017 Posted: 10:39 GMT

NUI Galway Cell EXPLORERS science outreach network will bring its ‘Fantastic DNA’ national roadshow to schools during this month’s Science Week.

For the fifth year in a row the Cell EXPLORERS roadshow, established by NUI Galway’s School of Natural Sciences, will once again visit primary schools across Ireland bringing
hands-on experiments to over 3,500 school children this term and during this month’s Science Week.

The Cell EXPLORERS national network has continued its expansion this year with the inclusion of five new partner teams with NUI Galway, the IT Carlow, Letterkenny IT, Maynooth University, the National Virus Reference Laboratory UCD and UCC. The new teams are joining the network of five existing teams, Athlone IT, UL, IT Tralee and Dundalk IT.

Last year, 125 scientists visited 43 schools throughout the country, reaching 1,881 children to teach them about cells and DNA through hands-on activities. According to the statistics, 64% of the children visited last year had not previously met a scientist. Overall, pupils’ feedback was positive, highlighting that their favorite part of the session was the opportunity to use scientific equipment and doing the experiment themselves. “The scientists were brilliant at explaining and it was all fun experiments”, said one sixth class pupil in Co. Kerry. “I liked meeting the Cell EXPLORERS because I never met a scientist who was a girl before”, commented another fifth class pupil from Co. Roscommon.

Teachers hosting the ‘Fantastic DNA’ session indicated that it had a made a real impact on the pupils, giving them the opportunity of doing hands-on science and having fun in their classrooms. A teacher from Co. Kerry said: “I thought that today's session was fantastic. The children learned so much and also a greater interest in science was instilled in them.” Teachers also highlighted as major benefits the opportunity for each child to do an experiment and for interacting with local 3rd level scientists, both characteristics of Cell EXPLORERS visits.

Dr Muriel Grenon, Founding Director of Cell EXPLORERS said: “We have been piloting a unique way of directly involving Irish higher education institutions in engaging young people in science for five years with the support of Science Foundation Ireland. The expansion of the programme, based on volunteering activities of university students and staff, has grown beyond our expectation. The success of the program is due to our collaborators, based in 10 higher education partner institutions. The participation benefits that we bring to children, teachers and our team members are key motivators for our coordinators to be part of the network despite of the additional workload.”

Dr Claudia Fracchiolla, National Coordinator of the Cell EXPLORERS network also commented: “Preliminary research suggests that the programme provides a unique opportunity to the children but also provides benefits to our team members. Volunteers participating in the program develop transferable skills, as well as personal development, which are important outcomes for tomorrow’s researchers, educators, and communicators. Our volunteers would recommend participating in the programme to a friend, and strongly believe that universities and institutes of technology must engage in science outreach.”

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 the NUI Galway Foundation. 

For more information or to book a show at your school, visit www.cellexplorers.com or find us on Facebook or Twitter @cellexplorers.

-Ends-

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