Nearly 200 sixth Class Students will swap the classroom for the super high-tech labs in Cork Institute of Technology tomorrow and Wednesday (Tuesday, Jan 21 and Wednesday, Jan 22), as they transform themselves into CSI detectives and brain experts for a day.
The pupils are amongst the 2,000 primary students taking part in this year’s Bord Gáis Networks Science Forward Programme around the country.
The Science Forward programme aims at giving sixth class pupils across Ireland a real sense of what science has to offer and a look at the opportunities that lie in the sector. Science is not mandatory in all-Irish secondary schools and the programme is designed to encourage students entering second level to continue the subject, rather than lose out on the myriad of career opportunities studying science brings.
More than 1,000 students have already been through the programme this school year and they’ve also met and heard from Ambassadors such as Clare hurling hero Shane O’Donnell who studies Genetics in UCC and PizazBot Gaming teen sensation Harry Moran.
14-year-old gaming developer Harry was practically the same age as the students he’s encouraging to stick with science when his PizzaBot game took off and charted above the world’s best-known apps such as Angry Birds and FIFA 12 in November 2011.
“Science is so important and I know that it opens so many doors and is such an interesting subject,” Harry said. “I’m just delighted to be involved and try to show what you miss out on if you don’t keep it up into secondary school,” he added. “And that’s not to mention the fun and amazing stuff you get to do.”
Science Forward is an initiative developed by Bord Gáis Networks in partnership with Junior Achievement. The programme was launched three years ago and has tripled in size to reach over 2,000 pupils for the 2013/14 school year. The pupils, from over 80 schools nationwide, are brought to third level sites to experience what science has to offer and are trained in a series of experiments specifically designed to generate their interest in science in a fun and engaging way.
Students from primary schools in Dublin, Limerick, Clare, Tipperary, Galway, Cavan, Kilkenny and Waterford have already participated in the 2013/14 programme which started in October. Science Forward continues to May 2014 at third level institutes in Dublin, Cork, Carlow, Galway, Sligo and Athlone.
“It’s great to see science being promoted at this early age for the students and I hope it helps cultivate a greater number of science graduates in the medium and long term. Career statistics show that in Ireland we’re suffering a skills shortage in a sector that has minimum unemployment and major job growth ( Note ₁).The career opportunities vary hugely, from the booming digital and gaming sector, through energy, agri, food and pharma to name just a few. At Bord Gáis Networks we believe it’s important to play a leading part in promoting science to produce the next crop of highly skilled graduates – that’s why we have committed to the programme. Nurturing the next generation is something Bord Gáis Networks is actively involved in through Science Forward and other programmes. This stems not just from being a good corporate citizen but as a company whose future and continued success will be in the hands of today’s young people”.
Science Forward introduces science to the students in a very practical but entertaining and interactive manner. The trained volunteers involved in the programme lead their respective group of students through individual workshop sessions focussing on various elements of science and experiments to signify the relevance in day-to-day life. Learning how the brain functions, the dangers of carbon monoxide and identifying fingerprints are amongst the features of the experimental and workshop elements of the programme. All of which are designed to nurture an interest in science and to highlight the relevance of science in everyday life and in all walks of life.