This is the only All-Ireland collaborative science outreach initiative of its kind. A field of forty schools narrowed to just four through preliminary debate rounds on a variety of contemporary biomedical science topics.
The four secondary schools in the final will be: St. Catherine’s Vocational School, Killybegs, Donegal; Clonakilty Community College, Cork; St. Andrews College, Blackrock and Abbey Vocational School, Donegal Town.
The first two debates, St. Catherine’s Vocational School against St. Andrews College and Abbey Vocational School against Clonakilty Community College, will focus on the moral obligation to explore research with embryonic stem cells due to the potential to develop new medical treatments. The winners of those rounds will then meet to debate the necessity of animal testing for advancing disease treatment.
Debating Science Issues encourages young people to engage in debate on the cultural, societal and ethical implications of advances in biomedical science. The competition is led by REMEDI at NUI Galway and collaborators include APC at UCC, BDI at DCU, RCSI, CIT, CRANN at Trinity College, W5 in Belfast, Clarity at UCD and The Centre for Cross Border Studies in Armagh.
Data collected from five cycles of DSI involving more than 3500 students shows an increase in interest in science as a subject and as a career as a result of participation in the project. This schools’ biomedical science workshop series and debate competition has been supported by the Wellcome Trust for five consecutive years. Provincial trophies and prizes are provided by Abbott Ireland, Boston Scientific, Merck- Millipore and Pfizer Ireland.
Every year the project has evolved and has responded to the feedback gathered continuously throughout the project. This year a new Topic Guide on rare diseases was introduced and a dedicated website has been developed, www.debatingscienceissues.com