Dublin's Science Attractions
Science field trips are a great way to enthuse your pupils about the world of science and nature. We are exceptionally lucky in Ireland to have so many attractions of scientific interest within easy reach and a few short days away can provide a huge range of teaching and learning opportunities. In each issue of School Spin, we will focus on a particular area of the country, highlighting the scientific attractions assessable within the area. This issue’s suggested field trip activities are based our capital city, Dublin.
Within the Dublin area there are some excellent activities of scientific interest to take in on a one or two day trip. Here are some suggestions:
The Science Gallery
The Science Gallery, found within the grounds of Trinity College, is one of the most interesting, unique and exciting science attractions in Ireland, if not Europe. The museum changes its exhibitions regularly and arranges events, talks, debates and workshops around the exhibiting topic. Coming up in November and December is their new exhibit – Green Machines. According to their brilliant website: Green Machines is Science Gallery's autumn/winter exhibition which will look at how cutting edge design from around the world is helping us generate solutions for a sustainable future”. The Science Gallery is a must for all science enthusiasts and entry is free! Visit www.sciencegallery.com for more information.
Dublin Zoo is one of Ireland’s top attractions and a great place to visit on a school trip. Founded in 1831 by the Royal Zoological Society of Ireland, Dublin Zoo has evolved into a centre for education, research and conservation. The zoo’s exhibition areas are one of the best in the world and the large variety of animals are now hosted within purpose built areas, closely resembling their natural habitat. The zoo is a great place to explore but their education centre can also organise workshops on various topics like genetics, conservation, environmental awareness or even art for your school group. Visit www.dublinzoo.ie for more information.
The Natural History Museum
Recently reopened, the Natural History Museum or “the dead zoo” is a brilliant place to explore the variety of life in Ireland and Europe. Containing a huge collection of animal galleries, the museum has a charm that all will appreciate. The museum has changed little in the last century but still remains one of the best places in Dublin for the science enthusiast to visit. The museum has a dedicated education and outreach programme which will facilitate school visits if pre-booked. For more information visit: www.museum.ie/en/intro/natural-history.aspx
National Wax Museum
This might seem like an odd addition to our recommended science attractions, but the new National Wax Museum now has an exhibit dedicated to science, invention and discovery. The science rooms display models of famous Irish scientists and inventors and their discoveries. There are interactive touch screens and live experiments which bring the inventions to life. This is a permanent exhibit and features both modern and historic figures in Irish science including John Philip Holland, Henry Ferguson and Aoife McLysaght (who took part in the human genome project). They also have a great website, with a downloadable poster of Irish inventors: www.waxmuseumplus.ie/science.html
Guinness Store House
The Guinness Store House is a brilliant place to bring pupils where the excellent tour explains the procedures for making the famous drink. Spread out over seven floors, the well presented tour is relevant to biology pupils who need to be aware of anaerobic respiration and bio-processing. The tour is generally self-guided but one can arrange a private tour group also. For more information visit: www.guinness-storehouse.com
The wonderful Dunsink Observatory is the oldest scientific institution in Ireland. Built in 1783 for the first Andrews' Professor of Astronomy in Trinity College Dublin, the observatory is situated on a hill 8km northwest of Dublin's city centre. The observatory is open to schools for day and evening tours but pre-booking is essential. The observatory arranges various activities for Science Week too, which this year takes place from the 7th to the 14th of November. During that week, lectures on a wide variety of topics in astronomy are held, and weather permitting, students are given the opportunity to look through the Grubb Telescope located in the South Dome at Dunsink Observatory. Definitely worth a visit: www.dias.ie/lang/en/cosmic/astro/dunsink
RDS Science Live Series
Throughout the year the RDS Science Live series allows science communicators to develop high quality workshops aimed specifically at primary and secondary level pupils. According to their website “the aim is to take science out of the classroom and focus on the interactive, practical elements of a topic in order that the students gain as much from the experience as possible”. The lectures have a nominal fee and pre-booking is required. Some of the workshops coming up in November and December include “The Nano Show”, “Anyone for Maths”, “Super Stringy DNA” and “Mad Machines”. The lecture series is a brilliant way of making science more practical and do check to see if one is available when arranging your trip to Dublin! For more information and to book visit: www.rds.ie/sciencelive