IT Sligo Gears Up for ‘Science Fair 2013’

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The curtain rises on IT Sligo’s popular annual Science Fair next Sunday with family-fun shows and thought-provoking public lectures illustrating the pivotal influence of science in our everyday life.

Magic routines and, juggling, interactive exploration of flight and sound, and even a bed of nails are on the bill for the opening day of the week-long free events, which usually attract around 3,000 visitors from across the North West.

Families and including career-minded young students have the opportunity for an entertaining up-close look at how science is at the root of strange phenomena and seemingly routine activities, such as electricity, light and gravity.

Topics covered in the evening lecture series include:

The Famine practically halved the Irish nation through death and emigration but did it also trigger other unrecorded hereditary impacts that have been both profound and prolonged, up to the present?

Is there life out there in the Universe? What do you know about fracking, birds of prey and freshwater invaders?

The Science Fair is part of national Science Week – a Discover Science & Engineering (DSE) project – which is on the theme “Exploring the XTRA-Ordinary”.

Monday Nov 11: Dr Peter Grindrod of Birkbeck College, University of London, speaks on “Exploring Mars: Curiosity, Water and Life”.

A fundamental question that is asked is whether we are alone in the universe. Despite exploration of our solar system and the recent discovery of planets around distant stars, the best chance of finding life remains with one of our closest neighbours, Mars. Evidence of the history of water on Mars is recorded in the rocks that we see on the surface today.


Dr Grindrod, will discuss Mars exploration over the past 50 years and the latest results from the rover, ‘Curiosity’.

Tuesday Nov 12: In “Ancestral Echoes: Why the Great Famine still impacts on Modern Irish Health”, historian Dr Oonagh Walsh of Glasgow Caledonian University will suggest that epigenetic research might add significantly to our understanding  the 19th century national trauma.

Epigenetics is the study of changes in gene expression, the effects of which may persist over several generations. It is seen as offering the possibility of a detailed understanding of hereditary factors and their impact on physical and mental human health.


Dr Walsh says modern research into the Dutch Hunger Winter of 1944, the Chinese Famines of 1959-6, Canadian ‘Ice Storms’ of 1998 and the Holocaust point to connections between maternal starvation and severe maternal stress in long-term health problems in offspring who were in gestation during those events.

Wednesday Nov 13: Dr Frances Lucy, Director of the Centre for Environmental Research Innovation and Sustainability at IT Sligo, issues a clarion call: “Invasive Species Management – Your Country Needs You!” She will explain how smart technology and basic nature skills could help each of us contribute to the management of invaders such as the Asian clam and invasive waterweeds.

Thursday Nov 14: Hydrogeologist Dr Pamela Bartley speaks on “Fracking: The exploration of Shale Gas reserves in Ireland – What are the issues of significance for the water environment?”  She believes the practical implementation of creating boreholes deeper than anything that has ever been drilled here will be a big challenge to the international engineers who will accompany the explorers of the shale based energy reserve.

Friday Nov 15: Jamie Durrant of BirdWatch Ireland provides an illustrated talk, “Introduction to Ireland’s Birds of Prey”, describing behaviour and how to identify them.

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Photo caption: Dr Frances Lucy, Director of the Centre for Environmental Research Innovation and Sustainability at IT Sligo, one of the speakers in the evening lecture series during Science Fair 2013.