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Posted: 16 November 2007

Sticky situations at the UCD Science Festival

Over 700 primary and secondary school students from across Ireland visited University College Dublin during the UCD Science Festival to explore the history of planet earth and to discover how science is part of our everyday lives.

At this year’s festival - themed “Surrounded by Science” - students had the opportunity to meet giant Maclay and Indian stick insects, and African land snails.

“Today the work of Dublin Zoo involves the conservation and preservation of biodiversity,” explained Catherine McGuinness, education assistant from Dublin Zoo, who brought the insects to Belfield for the science festival. “The festival is a great opportunity for us to meet the next generation and educate them so that they might learn from the mistakes of previous generations.”

Each UCD school involved in the area of science set up an interactive pod for the students visiting the festival. The UCD School of Physics had a radar gun to measure the speed at which students could kick a football, and the UCD School of Geological Sciences had a pod where students could create and measure their own earthquakes.

At their interactive pod, chemists from the UCD School of Chemistry and Chemical Biology turned copper coins into silver and gold. While solving mathematical puzzles and testing mental agility at video games was the order of the day at the pods hosted by the UCD School of Mathematical Sciences and the UCD School of Computer Science & Informatics.

“It was absolutely fantastic, a brilliant learning experience, very engaging and lots of fun for the students and us teachers,” said Emer Whyte, a teacher from St Peter’s Boys School in Bray, who escorted a group of students to the event.

At the biological pods hosted by the UCD School of Biology and Environmental Science and the UCD School of Biomolecular and Biomedical Science, students examined fossil plants and dinosaur parts which were between 65 million and 200 million years old. They also had the opportunity to witness the impact of pollution on Irish marine life and observe Zebrafish in motion.

“The students were fascinated and this visit to UCD will really increase their interest in science,” said Kieran Kelly, a teacher from St Clare’s in Harold’s Cross.

Discover Science and Engineering provided two interactive science shows on each day of the festival. At the Wonders Show from Estonia on Tuesday November 13, the students learned all about Newton’s laws of gravity and how Newton invented the mathematics needed to explain the motion of the planets, proving that what goes up must come down. Sue McGrath returned to UCD on Wednesday November 14 by popular demand with her amazing Science2Life show.


ScienceWorks at the UCD Conway Institute
Over at the UCD Conway Institute, over 240 transition year students took part in ScienceWorks which aspires to give pupils an opportunity to experience scientific research at work and to appreciate the variety of exciting science careers available today.

“In this series of interactive half-day workshops, pupils become researchers and meet some of our leading scientists” explains Ms Elaine Quinn, Communications and Education Officer, UCD Conway Institute.

ScienceWorks is run in conjunction with the Centre for Synthesis and Chemical Biology


UCD Science Information Evening
The final Science Week event at UCD was the Information Evening on Thursday 15 November at the Global Irish Institute, hosted by the UCD Science Programme Office, for sixth year secondary school students who are interested in becoming scientists.


Science at UCD
University College Dublin has the largest science programme in Ireland, providing degree courses in biological, chemical, geological, mathematical, physical and computer sciences.

The UCD College of Life Sciences and the UCD College of Engineering, Mathematical and Physical Sciences provide world standard leading teaching and conduct research of the highest international level. There are 26 single honours degrees available at UCD and a range of joint degrees comprising two science subjects.

For more information visit

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Sticky situations at the UCD Science Festival