Students flock to innovation showcase

More than 1,000 secondary school students flocked to Teagasc research centres and colleges across the country this week to explore its food science innovations. The initiative was organised to celebrate Science Week.

On Tuesday in Athenry, students from local schools undertook a series of practical experiments to see how science is being used to address issues related to reproduction and parasitism in sheep.

On Wednesday events at Teagasc Grange research campus featured a demonstration of the beef and animal bioscience research at the campus. At Teagasc Johnstown Castle, students learnt about current Teagasc research in the areas of ecology, carbon cycling, water quality and soils, nutrient efficiency and sustainability. In addition, Teagasc Oak Park’s Dr Stephen Kildea spoke at Carlow library on various well-known crops and their development and also looks at crop diseases.

On Thursday at Teagasc Ashtown Food Research Centre, the fun-filled day promoted the careers in scientific research and the latest Irish science behind food. Also at Teagasc Oak Park, students got tour of the biotechnology laboratories and got to see part of the plant science and potato-breeding programmes.

Today Teagasc Kildalton College hosted a dissection of ruminant and monogastric digestive systems. The demonstration aims to provide Leaving Certificate Agricultural Science students with an opportunity to see the organ structures of these systems up close, and maybe even some examples of common parasite damage.

“We are delighted to support Discover Science and Engineering ’s Science Week initiative, which aims to promote the relevance of science, technology, engineering and maths in our everyday lives and to demonstrate their importance to the future development of Irish society and to the economy,” said Dr Frank O’Mara, director of research at Teagasc.

DSE initiatives are managed by Science Foundation Ireland on behalf of the Office of Science, Technology and Innovation at the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation.

Here are some of the highlights:

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Dr Guy Serbin has a PhD in Soil Science from Utah State University, USA. He is a Research Officer at Teagasc working on ways to detect forest disturbance using satellites. His presentation called Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Agricultural and Environmental Monitoring shows how using satellite images (remote sensing) to monitor the Earth’s environment and agriculture, and on do-it-yourself (DIY) projects that can be done with inexpensive off-the-shelf prototyping platforms

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Students from Loreto School, Balbriggan participating in a Sensory Analysis Session – tasting  orange juice using a ‘Triangle Test’ method with Carol Griffin of the Food Industry Development Department whose role includes supplying technical support and sensory analysis to the food sector

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Lauren van Rooyen (centre) with students.  She is a first year PhD student in the Department of Food Chemistry and Technology. She has a degree in Nutraceuticals in Health and Nutrition from DIT.  She discusses the benefits of meat and meat products as meat is a valuable source of protein in the diet