Friday 9 December 2016

A miracle of science as Dubs star talks

Published 27/01/2012 | 05:00

Science Ambassador Aoibhinn Ni Shuilleabhain with Dublin footballer and science teacher Stephen Cluxton at the launch of Dublin City of Science 2012 - she is tipping her native Mayo for a breakthrough
Science Ambassador Aoibhinn Ni Shuilleabhain with Dublin footballer and science teacher Stephen Cluxton at the launch of Dublin City of Science 2012 - she is tipping her native Mayo for a breakthrough
Pupils of Gardiner Street Primary School

IT was a miracle of science, perhaps not quite up there with the discovery of penicillin, or Watson and Crick's unravelling of the structure of DNA, but it was a revelation nonetheless to grab the attention of anyone who has ever stood on Hill 16 or cheered on the Dubs.

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For it turns out that Stephen 'Sphinx' Cluxton, is a chap of some eloquence. Not only that, but the legendary silent goalkeeper who normally makes the average Trappist monk sound like Jeremy Clarkson, was quite happy to chat to a journalist.

What caused this complete change of heart from a sporting hero who in his official GAA profile lists "not speaking to the media" as the best advice he has ever received, and who has stayed steadfastly mute on the subject of his heart-stopping, last-gasp kick which captured Sam for the Dubs on an unforgettable day in Croker last September?

It actually WAS a miracle of science, for Stephen wasn't speaking as 'Clucko', but as 'Sir', or to be precise, in his capacity as a science teacher.

He turned up in the Convention Centre yesterday with a group of his pupils from St Vincent's CBS in Glasnevin for the official launch of Dublin City of Science. ESOF2012 (Euroscience Open Forum), opened yesterday by Jobs Minister Richard Bruton, Lord Mayor of Dublin Andrew Montague and comedian/boffin Dara O Briain, heralds a year-long programme of science-related events in the capital city.

And so when he found a reporter's microphone under his nose, he didn't take his ball home, but chatted enthusiastically about the importance of getting kids involved in the study of science.

"If you base it around experiments and fun activities and try and make it as interesting and as real life as possible, I think they find it interesting," he explained.

"From a personal point of view, you can see where the interest is, like human biology is something they're interested in, but when it comes to flowers and plants they don't seem to have that interest. So it's about making them interested in those," he added.

"The more experiments that you can do, they'll learn more from that than taking down reams of information from a board where they get caught in the moment of taking it down, and they just don't absorb it.

"So if you can stop that and show them an experiment, that's how you can capture their imagination, so they know that not all of the science questions are answered."

But lightning-quick sportsman that he is, Stephen could spot when a ball even vaguely related to his 'Other Job' was hopped his way. Did he think that given his heroic status he would make a good ambassador for the scientific community and an inspiration to students interested in the subject?

He skipped away immediately. "From a personal point of view, whatever I do outside of teaching is totally separate," he dodged.

"They should show an interest in it because they want to be interested in the subject, and not because of who's teaching it, or whatnot," he said.

"There are a lot of jobs in science still to be had, and if they get interested in it, that's a job done from a teacher's point of view."

And he was adamant that the subject wasn't dull at all. "Science can capture everybody's imagination -- it's not a subject that's for geeks or nerds, it's wide ranging. You don't have to have an ability in science -- you just have to ask the right questions to get the right answers," he explained.

Unless the questions are about f******l, of course. You don't have to be Einstein to work that one out.

Irish Independent

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