For the first time in history, this year’s Science Week will take place against a societal backdrop never previously experienced in our lifetime. To ensure audiences get as much from Science Week, SSPC the SFI Research Centre for Pharmaceuticals and the Department of Nursing and Midwifery, at the University of Limerick (UL) and Bernal Institute, will be taking their outreach event to Limerick schools from a distance during the current lockdown.
This year, SSPC will be introducing Limerick Lab Box – Handwashing Edition, each box contains equipment to conduct loads of experiments around hand washing. Boxes will be delivered to every secondary school in Limerick city and county this week. Each student will be able to participate in multiple experiments, ensuring that they can actively learn about ways in which to wash their hands while also comparing the effectiveness of different washing techniques and materials.
Martin McHugh, SSPC Outreach Manager said:
“Although working from a distance is tough this year, we feel this initiative not only gives teachers a new and unique way of teaching, but also empowers students to be responsible and informed citizens in light of bacteria, viruses and communal health and hopefully have a bit of fun”.
Liz Kingston, from the Department of Nursing and Midwifery, UL, a collaborator on this project, added: “This is a great start and we are hoping to use this project as a platform for future national citizen science projects where we can inform hand hygiene practices in schools and beyond.”
For SSPC, the goal is that a new ‘Lab Box’ will be designed on a yearly basis. The content or theme of the box can be informed by the future needs of the community. SSPC’s Education and Public Engagement (EPE) programme funded by Science Foundation Ireland plays a key role in communicating the importance and value of science to the wider society in Ireland.
The EPE programmes incorporate customised, context-based activities for each stage of the Irish primary and post-primary educational systems. Additional programmes designed for third/fourth level students, industry, and the general public also play a role in the EPE strategy to promote engagement with SSPC’s research, as well as to create a dialogue among all participants about Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics (STEM), particularly in the area of chemistry and pharmaceutical manufacturing.
The core theme for Science Week 2020 is ‘Science Week – Choosing our Future’ focusing on how science can improve our lives in the future, and in the present. This will explore how science can help us to make positive choices that will impact the environment, our health, and our quality of life. Changes based in scientific evidence that we make today can hugely improve our future life, but also right now. The subject matter is broad and will incorporate topics such as the future of work, the future of health and wellbeing and how we will all live in a world where we have had to mitigate and adapt to the challenges facing society. Climate change has not gone away, and now society has had to unite and face the coronavirus disease, COVID-19.
Throughout Science Week there will be a variety of ways for you to get involved through events, interviews, social media and much more. You can also use and follow #BelieveInScience online and check out https://www.sfi.ie/engagement/science-week/ for event updates.