13 December 2016
Record number of participants for 2017 RDS Primary Science Fair
Fair doubles capacity in Limerick after just one year
Almost 6,000 primary school students will participate in the 2017 RDS Primary Fair that spans two weekends and two cities - Dublin and Limerick - this January. Last year’s inaugural RDS Primary Science Fair Limerick at Mary Immaculate College, Limerick (MIC) was such a success that capacity has been doubled with an additional day added for 2017.
Working under the supervision of their teacher, the entire class is encouraged to be inquisitive and curious about the world around them, with class projects that answer questions such as ‘Can we create a rainbow without rain?’ ‘Can a robot be built to show and communicate specific emotions?’ And ‘Why do your hands go wrinkly in liquids?’
Michael Duffy, CEO of the RDS said: “With demand for places at the Fair increasing annually, it is really satisfying to be able to significantly increase capacity. This means between the Dublin and Limerick venues, the 2017 Fair will cater for almost 6,000 students exhibiting their science projects. Last year we received a really generous welcome from the city and people of Limerick, and that enthusiasm was palpable at the Fair in MIC.”
The RDS Primary Science Fair encourages primary school teachers to focus on developing students’ core scientific skills by investigating a question or problem by ‘working scientifically’ and ‘designing and making’ as per the primary science curriculum. Independent external evaluation indicates that it’s not just science and maths skills that benefit but pupils confidence, communication, social and teamwork skills also improve through participation. International studies have also demonstrated correlation between primary school science engagement and later academic science achievement.
Speaking about the RDS involvement in this area, Michael Duffy said: “The RDS purpose is to see Ireland thrive culturally and economically, and in 2016 we have spent €2.4 million to help achieve that. Our science programme is a vital aspect of this work and in recent years we have concentrated on education innovation in this area. RDS work in science education was referenced by the recent Government-commissioned report into STEM education in Irish schools, which noted the positive RDS contribution in this area.”
Representing 24 counties from across Ireland, the 238 primary school class projects will be split between the RDS Primary Science Fair Dublin January 12-14, showing alongside the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition, and the RDS Primary Science Fair Limerick 19-21 January at MIC. The programme for the Limerick Fair will feature science-themed educational entertainment, such as ‘the big bold, hot and cold science show’, ‘Playground Science’ and ‘What is a Whale’. All designed with primary school-age children in mind and all facilitate interactive curricular-linked learning, while at the same time entertaining all ages.
One of the aims of the RDS Primary Science Fair is to develop teacher confidence and skills in teaching STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) using an inquiry-based approach. Better teaching of STEM in primary education is considered by many experts to be crucial in strengthening Ireland’s future economic competiveness and international science performance. The RDS Primary Science Fair works in tandem with RDS STEM Learning, a continuous professional development STEM programme for primary school teachers.
For further information, please visit www.rds.ie/primarysciencefair.
The RDS Primary Science Fair Limerick at MIC is supported by The Irish American Partnership, Science Foundation Ireland, Limerick City and County Council, Limerick and Clare Education and Training Board, and Mary Immaculate College, Limerick.
The RDS Primary Science Fair is part of the RDS Science and Technology programme which aims to encourage the development of science and mathematical skills in primary school aged children by fostering education innovation.
The RDS is Ireland’s Philanthropic Society. Founded in 1731, it has worked since then to see Ireland thrive culturally and economically. It does this through working in the areas of the arts, agriculture, business, equestrianism and science.