The Pfizer Science Bus is an outreach programme run by the Irish Centre for Talented Youth at Dublin City University, Ireland.   It is best described as  a  mobile interactive science laboratory, which visits primary  schools  and  public  venues  nationwide.   The  bus  itself  is  a  full-size  coach,  which  has  been fitted out as a lab with gas, water, electrical and computing facilities.

At a time in Ireland where we have a booming economy and there has been a relatively large injection of  funding  into  Science  and  Technology  research  in  academic  institutions,  it  is  worrying  that  the numbers  of  students  studying  science  at  third  level  are  falling.   The  Pfizer  Science  Bus  hopes  to address  this  problem  by  stimulating  an  interest  in  Science  at  an  early  age  to  encourage  students  to study science subjects.

The bus has been operational since March 2000 and  has welcomed on board over 5,500 pupils in 80 schools.   Currently the Science Bus visits mainly primary schools.   As all the experiments on board are ‘hands-on’ the students, who even get to wear white lab coats, gain an insight into what it is like to be a real scientist.

The activities themselves are designed to be fun and targeted at upper primary school students.   Some examples include; working with red cabbage juice to test acids and bases, investigating electrical circuits, and making fruit batteries.   The experiments on board are changed regularly. Earlier this year in conjunction with the Irish Energy Centre the Bus complete with energy related experiments took part in the Irish National Energy Awareness week.

The  lack  of  a  national  or  regional  science  centre  in  Ireland  means  that  a  visit  to  the  Science  Bus  is often  a  first  for  both  pupils  and  teachers.   The  first  time  they  have  seen  anything  resembling  a laboratory,  the  first  time  meeting  ‘real’  scientists  (both  of  the  instructors  are  qualified  scientists)  and the  first  time  seeing  science  taken  out  of  the  lab  or  classroom  and  communicated  in  a  hands-on  fun way.   The project has been welcomed with overwhelming  enthusiasm  in schools  and  has  received  a lot of media attention.   This coupled with the long school waiting list for a Science Bus visit, makes a case  for  similar  projects  in  Ireland.  Perhaps  we  are  ready  economically  and  culturally  for  a  Science Centre in Ireland, as a base and resource to increase public awareness of science. 


 


 
 

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Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

The Pfizer science bus
A science outreach programme for Ireland

Ita Murphy   Dublin City University

The Pfizer Science Bus is an outreach programme run by the Irish Centre for Talented Youth at Dublin City University, Ireland.   It is best described as  a  mobile interactive science laboratory, which visits primary  schools  and  public  venues  nationwide.   The  bus  itself  is  a  full-size  coach,  which  has  been fitted out as a lab with gas, water, electrical and computing facilities.

At a time in Ireland where we have a booming economy and there has been a relatively large injection of  funding  into  Science  and  Technology  research  in  academic  institutions,  it  is  worrying  that  the numbers  of  students  studying  science  at  third  level  are  falling.   The  Pfizer  Science  Bus  hopes  to address  this  problem  by  stimulating  an  interest  in  Science  at  an  early  age  to  encourage  students  to study science subjects.

The bus has been operational since March 2000 and  has welcomed on board over 5,500 pupils in 80 schools.   Currently the Science Bus visits mainly primary schools.   As all the experiments on board are ‘hands-on’ the students, who even get to wear white lab coats, gain an insight into what it is like to be a real scientist.

The activities themselves are designed to be fun and targeted at upper primary school students.   Some examples include; working with red cabbage juice to test acids and bases, investigating electrical circuits, and making fruit batteries.   The experiments on board are changed regularly. Earlier this year in conjunction with the Irish Energy Centre the Bus complete with energy related experiments took part in the Irish National Energy Awareness week.

The  lack  of  a  national  or  regional  science  centre  in  Ireland  means  that  a  visit  to  the  Science  Bus  is often  a  first  for  both  pupils  and  teachers.   The  first  time  they  have  seen  anything  resembling  a laboratory,  the  first  time  meeting  ‘real’  scientists  (both  of  the  instructors  are  qualified  scientists)  and the  first  time  seeing  science  taken  out  of  the  lab  or  classroom  and  communicated  in  a  hands-on  fun way.   The project has been welcomed with overwhelming  enthusiasm  in schools  and  has  received  a lot of media attention.   This coupled with the long school waiting list for a Science Bus visit, makes a case  for  similar  projects  in  Ireland.  Perhaps  we  are  ready  economically  and  culturally  for  a  Science Centre in Ireland, as a base and resource to increase public awareness of science. 


 


 
 

A copy of the full paper has not yet been submitted.

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