Secondary schools students from across Ireland participated in the seventh All-Ireland Final of the Debating Science Issues (DSI) competition last week in the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Dublin.
After closely contested debates, St Joseph's Secondary CBS, Fairview from Dublin were victorious to become the 2014 Debating Science Issues winners, with Colaiste Mhuire, Crosshaven, Co. Cork awarded second place.
The other schools involved in these hotly-contested debates were St. Brigid’s Vocational School, Loughrea, Galway and Our Lady and St. Patrick’s College, Knock, Belfast. Four teams, narrowed down from 34 came through regional preliminary debate rounds on a variety of contemporary biomedical science.
DSI is a dynamic debating competition, the only All-Ireland collaborative science outreach initiative of its kind, which invites young people to engage in debate on the cultural, societal and ethical implications of advances in biomedical science. Open to students in the senior cycle of secondary school, the competition provides a great opportunity for students to expand their communication and scientific skills.
Danielle Nicholson, All-Ireland Co-ordinator of Debating Science Issues (DSI) and REDDSTAR Dissemination Officer, said “DSI provides young people with insight into science as an institution and the processes by which scientific knowledge is produced. Incorporating the values and limits in science as well as its tactics for decision-making, DSI employs a discussion-based teaching model in the pre-competition workshops.”
She continued “It is important that students do not judge their understanding of scientific knowledge to be insufficient to allow them to engage with socio-scientific issues of concern. Argumentation is one of the cornerstones of the scientific process. DSI increases student engagement with science content and promotes reasoning and justification skills that help prepare an informed citizenry. Data collected from six cycles of DSI involving more than 4,000 students shows an increase in interest in science as a subject and as a career as a result of participation in the project.”
Judges on the day were: Dr Jill McMahon, Senior Neuroscientist at NUI Galway; Jane Butler, Education and Research Communications Officer, RCSI; Dr Andriana Margariti, lecturer in the Centre of Experimental Medicine at Queen’s University Belfast; Brian Molloy, CEO of Orbsen Therapeutics; Maria Delaney, Science Journalist and Founder of Science Calling; Assistant Professor Cormac Taylor, School of Medicine and Medical Science, UCD; Dr Anne Cody, Head of Clinical and Applied Biomedical Research, Health Research Board; Professor of Bioengineering and Regenerative Medicine, Fergal O’ Brien, Deputy Director of Research and Head of Tissue Engineering Research Group of RCSI; and Dr Paola Atzei of Science Foundation Ireland.
The DSI All-Ireland Finals event was funded by a Science Foundation Ireland Discover Programme award. The competition is co-ordinated by REDDSTAR at NUI Galway and collaborators include APC at UCC, BDI at DCU, RCSI, CIT, CRANN at Trinity College, W5 in Belfast, INSIGHT at UCD and the University of Ulster. For more information visit www.debatingscienceissues.com or www.reddstar.eu.