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Science Week 2016 in Mary Immaculate College

Mary Immaculate College once again partnered with University of Limerick and Limerick Institute of Technology to host the Limerick Festival of Science from the 13-20 November. The festival was funded by Science Foundation Ireland (SFI).  A fun-filled week of events were enjoyed by pupils, teachers, parents and public of all ages in a range of venues both in the city and in county Limerick. In total, over 1,500 pupils from around 30 primary schools in Limerick city and counties Limerick, Tipperary and Clare visited the MIC campus over the past two weeks.

The Science Education Team in MIC, Dr Anne O’ Dwyer, Dr Miriam Hamilton and Dr Maeve Liston, organised a range of events both on and off campus.

Christine Campbell, from Anyone 4 Science, excited over 1,000 pupils in the Lime Tree Theatre for two sold-out shows of Fantastic Physics. This show welcomed primary school pupils of all classes. Pupils and teachers enjoyed the engaging show and were wowed by some of the physics demonstrations. Schools from Limerick city and county were invited to and attended these shows.

Over 250 pupils experienced the Hands-On Minds-On science workshops over two weeks (from 9th-17th Nov). These workshops were organised by Dr Miriam Hamilton and facilitated by our third year undergraduate teachers. The hour-long workshops for third and fourth class pupils provided an opportunity to engage with and think about science. The pupils enjoyed a range of learning experiences from designing parachutes, investigating ramps, making butter, exploring with magnets etc. Teachers with the visiting classes were very affirmative in their feedback on their pupils’ experiences of these inquiry-based workshops. The pupils enjoyed the interactive and hands-on experience of science concepts.

A new element to MIC’s events this year was a Science Roadshow. Dr Maeve Liston in co-ordination the TED Network liaised with St. Anne’s primary school, Rathkeale to host the Science of Bubbles shows presented by SFI funded guest Scientific Sue from Science 2 Life. Just under 500 children attended the shows ranging from infant to sixth class including those from St. Anne’s, St Joseph's Boys Primary School, Rathkeale and Rathkeale National School and other primary schools in the locality attended the shows.

Dr Maeve Liston, Director of Enterprise and Community Engagement and Lecturer in Science Education stated that ‘this year we decided to further enhance our community-campus engagement during science week by bringing science on tour out to schools in the county. There was a great sense of excitement and celebration of science in Rathkeale for the day, with children engaging with science and also, much fun, laughter and great discussions were had along the way’.

The involvement of colleagues in Mathematics Education and the Psychology department broadened the integrated experiences of Science in this year’s Science Week events. 

Dr Aisling Leavy and Dr Maíread Hourigan ensured that visiting pupils explored the word of mathematics with the challenge to leave no puzzle unsolved in the Brainteaser Bandits workshops. Over 200 pupils attended these workshops. The workshops were facilitated by MIC PME students, who drew on the pupils’ curiosity through the use of interactive puzzles and brainteasers to allow the primary pupils to experience mathematical phenomena. The pupils eagerly participated in the Who Wants to be a Millionaire? problem-solving quiz.

Dr Marek McGann presented a public evening talk, OOOPS! The Psychology of why we make mistakes. His engaging and thought-provoking talk helped the audience to understand some of the most common reasons for our mistakes and errors, and offered some advice on how to avoid them in future. Dr Suzanne Egan organised a Pop Up Museum of Psychology. This included a variety of fun and interesting interactive experiments, exhibits and displays to give an insight into the science of human behaviour and the mind. The interactive museum exhibits were facilitated by MIC Psychology staff and students.

Almost 30 people attended the Death Café, which was hosted in the Hook & Ladder café in Limerick City.  This event was run in collaboration with Sinead Dineen (Formerly of MIC), LIT, the LSAD (Limerick School of Art & Design) and MIC.  Jennifer Moran Stritch from (LIT) and Dr Maeve Liston (MIC) lead and contributed to the evening’s discussions. This event combined coffee and cake for all to discuss thoughtful and insightful ideas about death.

This year’s MIC Science Week co-ordinator, Dr Anne O’ Dwyer was delighted with the positive feedback from participants throughout the week: “Science Week is a great opportunity at a national and local level to publicise the place of Science in our everyday lives in engaging and fun ways. It would not have been possible for MIC to contribute as much to the Limerick Festival of Science if not for the energy and enthusiasm shown by all staff and students throughout the week. The opportunity to link with other disciplines adds to the dynamism of the outreach and is representative of the nature of science itself”. 

Picture (L-R): Margaret Murphy (LSRE Departmental Assistant); Maeve Liston; Christine Campbell (Presenter of Fantastic Physics show); Anne O'Dwyer and Miriam Hamilton.

Pupils at St Anne's Primary School, Rathkeale, sharing their ideas of what science is to them.

Dr Marek McGann presenting OOPS! The Psychology of why we make mistakes.




Mary Immaculate College, South Circular Road, Limerick, Tel:+35361 204300  V94VN26

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