Primary school students get to grips with appliance of science

Largest ever science fair for young children takes place in both Dublin and Limerick

Deirdre Turley, a former sixth class pupil at Our Lady’s Grove Primary School, Goatstown, experiences the effect of simulated lightnning. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Deirdre Turley, a former sixth class pupil at Our Lady’s Grove Primary School, Goatstown, experiences the effect of simulated lightnning. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

 

Have you ever wondered why bread goes hard but biscuits go soft? Or whether you might be able to charge your phone off a piece of fruit or veg?

These questions and many more have been tackled by enthusiastic primary school pupils participating in the largest RDS Primary Science Fair ever held. More than 4,500 fourth, fifth and sixth class students from 27 counties across Ireland are involved at two locations in Dublin and Limerick.

The fair is a long-standing component of the annual BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition, with the two events side by side for several days at the Main Hall in the RDS in Dublin. Now it is expanding, with the Dublin event taking place from January 7th-9th while the Limerick event runs from January 15th-16th at Mary Immaculate College.

Level of excitement

The level of excitement and enthusiasm at the event is extraordinary and shows that science can be of interest to people of any age.

The fair also encourages primary school teachers to focus on developing students’ core scientific skills by working scientifically and developing their own solutions.

Limerick teacher Denise Fitzgerald from Monagea NS will bring pupils to the fair for the first time. She found the research done was “really beneficial for all involved” and the students also get “hands-on experience of the appliance of science”.

The Monagea team literally got dug in with their project to find out whether the numbers of earthworms found in a given field differed depending on the field type. The project gave the children a taste of the science behind farming, and the results of their efforts will be on display at Mary Immaculate College.

This is the first time for the fair to be held in two locations but the RDS has even bigger plans for the fair.

“The move to Limerick is the first of a national expansion that the RDS intends to roll out over the next few years,” said RDS chief executive Michael Duffy.

He said the RDS made a major commitment to science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) in primary education by investing €1.6 million in the area in 2015.

Education programme

The fair in Limerick is held in association with the Irish American Partnership and Science Foundation Ireland. It is also supported by the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition and by Mary Immaculate College.

The wider RDS STEM education programme aims to encourage the development of science and mathematical skills in primary school children by fostering education innovation. It is part of a group of RDS programmes that try to enrich Ireland culturally and economically.

Information about the science fair can be found at rds.ie/primarysciencefair.

Tickets for pupils arriving with visiting schools and general child admissions are €3, while adult tickets cost €8 each. A family ticket is available for two adults and two children for €15.