Apr 19 2011 Posted: 00:00 IST
St. Vincent's Secondary School, Dundalk, Co. Louth were declared the All-Ireland winners of Debating Science Issues (DSI) 2011. The grand final, which took place at the Science Gallery at Trinity College Dublin on April 14, was the result of a field of 56 schools narrowing to just four. The confident team from Dundalk persuaded Professor Tom Sherry, Dean of Science at NUI Galway, Dr Amy Sanders, Wellcome Trust Special Projects Manager, and Professor Orla Shiels Lecturer in Pathology and Medical Jurisprudence, that "animal testing is necessary for the advancement of disease treatment". Colaiste an Phiarsaigh of Glanmire Co. Cork were the Runners up at the Final. Ulster was represented by St. Catherine's Vocational School, Killybegs, Co. Donegal and Connacht by St. Joseph's College Garbally, Co. Galway. Debating Science Issues is a cross border schools science debating competition supported by a Wellcome Trust People Award for four consecutive years and involves eight collaborating partners: the Regenerative Medicine Institute (REMEDI) at NUI Galway, W5 in Belfast, Biomedical Diagnostics Institute at DCU, Royal College of Surgeons Ireland, CRANN at TCD, CLARITY at UCD, and Tyndall National Institute and Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre both at UCC. The competition encourages young people to engage in debate on the cultural, societal and ethical implications of advances in biomedical science. Schools taking part initially receive a three hour biomedical, bioethical workshop to facilitate discussion on the ethical issues raised by stem cell research, genetically modified food, nanotechnology, health and self-testing kits or flu vaccinations. School students research further in preparation for the debate motion related to the initial workshop. From there, the debate motions circulate so that students debate on an array of controversial topical issues. Boston Scientific and NUI Galway's College of Science sponsored the provincial trophies and prizes. Other judges at the DSI grand final included Professor Tim O' Brien, Director of REMEDI; Danielle Barron, Editor of the Irish Medical News; Dr Diarmuid O'Brien, Editor of the Irish Medical News; Professor Gerry McKenna, Executive Director of CRANN, former Vice Chancellor of the University of Ulster; Dr Louise Mylotte, Lecturer in Biology at St. Angela's College, Sligo; and Dr Marion Boland Scientific Programme Manager at Science Foundation Ireland. REMEDI's Outreach Officer and competition co-ordinator, Danielle Nicholson, said: "Debating Science Issues tackles many of the prevailing big scientific, philosophical dilemmas. Students discussed the methods of science and utilitarianism and debated the moral status of the embryo; I was impressed." Connacht team mentor and teacher Fr. Iomar Daniels from Garbally College said of the initiative, "DSI has shown the students the importance and relevance of science and how it permeates the entire fabric of our society."