Monday 16 December 2019

Science Festival challenges perceptions

Caroline Sinnott (Wexford Co. Council), Aaron Sinnott, Cliona Connolly (Wexford Co. Council) and Ina Mullen at the festival
Caroline Sinnott (Wexford Co. Council), Aaron Sinnott, Cliona Connolly (Wexford Co. Council) and Ina Mullen at the festival

Simon Bourke

More than a thousand science buffs attended the biggest day of this year's Wexford Science Festival (WexSci) which saw a number of events take place at the National Opera House and the County Council buildings in Carricklawn.

Opening proceedings for the day, Cllr Michael Sheehan, Cathaoirleach of Wexford County Council underlined the importance of the sciences in the region.

'WexSci is attracting audiences young and old, male and female, people who would describe themselves as techies and non techies. It is encouraging to see people interacting with science related topics as diverse as climate change, forensic science, coding, psychology, robotics and even lobster conservation.

'It is our aim to ensure that WexSci offers a mix of fun and learning, allowing everyone young and old, to stretch their understanding of STEAM. We hope that you can see how science is around us in everyday life and that you can learn from the presenters how science is used in education, research and industry.'

At the National Opera House audiences listened to Dr Niamh Shaw explain why she intends to devote the rest of her life to fulfilling her dream to go to space, an ambition she has harboured for more than 40 years and one which has seen her overcome many challenges and struggles.

Then Professor Sabina Brennan showcased the scientific evidence which she believes can rejuvenate the brain. Arguing that dementia and memory loss are not necessarily part of the ageing process, the Professor provided tips and advice on how to protect your brain and your memory in the long-term.

She was followed on to the stage by Ann Cleary and Denis Connolly, a pair of scientific artists who have created a number of 'meta-perceptual' helmets.

These helmets enable their wearers to see the world from an entirely different perspective, a clever use of mirrors and design features offering, among other things, the chance to see the world the way a horse does.

At the end of their seminar, Ann and Denis invited members of the audience on stage to try out the helmets for themselves.

For families, young people and those with a curious mind further events took place at the County Council building. Exhibition stands filled The Street at the County Council providing interactive displays, learning opportunities, and scientific demos for young and old alike.

Stands included the WWETB, IT Carlow Wexford Campus, BIM, EPA, Waters Technologies, WIT, TEKcentral, Cool Planet, South Wexford Beekeepers Association, and the Hook Heritage Centre. Audiences were also treated to science shows, which included Glorious Blood from the London Science Museum.

Finally, there was also a chance to visit a planetarium and hear science stories.

Gorey Guardian