The launch of the 18th Galway Science and Technology Festival, part of National Science Week, was hosted by the main sponsor Medtronic in their Customer Innovation Centre, Parkmore yesterday.

The 2015 Festival will see 180 events and 35,000 primary and secondary school students take part in shows and workshops from 9th to 22nd November.  This year’s Festival will explore and celebrate “Science Week 2.0 – Design Your Future” in this International Year of Light at events in schools, colleges, research institutes, companies and community centres across Galway City and County.

Students at the launch in Medtronic heard from former Irish international rugby player and qualified engineer Malcolm O’Kelly. Speaking at the launch he said: “I’m delighted to be here in Galway today launching the 2015 Galway Science and Technology Festival. In school, while I loved sport, I always had an interest in maths and science. After school I was lucky enough to be able to go on and pursue a career in rugby and played for both Leinster and Ireland internationally.”

“While pursuing this career I also qualified in college as a civil engineer. It’s that degree that has stood to me since my career in sport ended. I’m now working in the sector and finding it to be a really challenging and rewarding industry to be in. I’d encourage all of you today to pursue your passion. Whether your passion is be in sport, medicine, fashion or art you can be guaranteed you’ll need technology whatever path you take. This is why Festivals like the upcoming one in Galway are so important to ensure you understand all the opportunities available to you.”

Students in primary schools can look forward to the return of the popular Kitchen Chemistry – The Amazing World of Chemical Wonders; Bug Doctor introducing students to insects, bugs and much bigger creatures, Lego Education Workshop will introduce robotics to young children and for junior and senior infants Little Cells is back again, introducing students to the concept of cells that form our body. Learn all about software and app development with visits to the Galway Atlantaquaria to partake in workshops and enjoy a tour of the Aquarium.

Secondary schools can also avail of many shows that bring science to life including Dr Ken’s Circus, which reveals the scientific principles used by circus performers using gravity in their stunts, True Physics shows students how to launch rockets and and learn about flight pressure and perform live experiments in Scientific Sue’s Chemistry Show and a Transition Year workshop by WhizzKids.

Scientists from NUI Galway are participating by offering both school roadshows and on-campus events. School visits include the much sought after Cell Explorers workshop Fantastic DNA, during which children prepare DNA from bananas, and Little Cells, an introduction to cells for the youngest students. New this year are Under the Microscope an introduction to microscopy for primary school students, a Biomaterials Workshop presented by the CÚRAM Centre for Research in Medical Devices, a Scrapheap Challenge in which participants build a model car from everyday materials, and much more. Visitors to the outdoor classroom in the Terryland Forest Park will have opportunities to plant a new wildflower meadow and to learn about local habitats and about conservation and biodiversity. On-campus events include tours of the Geology, Marine Biology and Computer Museums.

ESA Astronaut Paolo Nespoli will visit GMIT on Wednesday 11th November and over 500 secondary school students will get to meet the Italian Astronaut and also attend GMIT’s new Game Zone initiative, which will include Laser Grid, Lego Robots, Photoshop workshop, Smart Car in Action and Wave Phenomena.  The GMIT Scientist in Residence will bring mentors to schools and the workshop on Plastic Oceans will also visit schools.

The Marine Institute in Oranmore will host an Open Day for Transition Year students on Thursday 12th November where students will be invited to meet the scientists and see the work of the Marine Institute through a series of exhibitions including marine environment, fisheries, seafood safety, seabed mapping, research vessel operations and oceanography, as well as getting information and advice on marine careers.

The Reel Life Science NUIG video competition for primary and secondary schools which aims to promote Science to a wider audience is being judged this year by  Canadian Astronaut Cmdr. Chris Hadfield, Trinity College Dublin’s Prof. Aoife McLysaght and BT Young Scientist’s Ian O’Sullivan and Eimear Murphy. The competition was extended national wide in 2014 to much success and involves making a 1-3 minute video communicating a scientific topic in an engaging and entertaining way. A selection of this year’s videos will be screened in the City Museum on Tuesday 10th and Wednesday 11th November in addition to CURAM’s art exhibition.

Teachers can book a workshop or show for their school by completing the booking form on the website www.galwayscience.ie, all shows and workshops are free to the school.  Booking details for events at NUI Galway and GMIT are available on the website.

The final day Festival Exhibition takes place on Sunday 22nd November 10am – 6pm. Tickets for the shows and workshops will be available for booking on www.galwayscience.eventbrite.com from Saturday 14th November.

Visit www.scienceweek.ie for details of events nationwide or alternatively organise your own event – check out the ‘Get Involved’ guide www.scienceweek.ie/resources/get-involved/

Connect on Twitter @galwaysciencefe and on www.facebook.com/galwayscience and use the hashtag #scienceweek and #GalwayScience to join the conversation

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