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Second Cross-Border Science Conference "Great Success"

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The Second Cross-Border Schools Science Conference "Discover the Stars at Armagh", held on 29th and 30th April 2009 and organized by the Armagh Observatory and the Centre for Cross Border Studies was a great success. The meeting brought together around 250 students aged 13 to 14 (Key Stage 3) from more than a dozen schools on both sides of the Border to learn about astronomy, mathematics and related sciences using the facilities of the Armagh Observatory and the Armagh Planetarium, a combination on the same site unique on the island of Ireland.

Over the two days of the conference, more than 250 students from schools as far away as Belfast, Dublin and Mullingar participated in a programme of activities lasting from approximately 10:00am to 3.00pm. These included a plenary lecture "The Science of Armageddon" by leading astronomer Jay Tate, director of the Spaceguard Centre, Knighton, Powys, and a cycle of structured educational activities in the Armagh Planetarium (Exhibition Area and Show), and the Observatory’s Library (Meteorite Workshop) and Human Orrery. Plenary sessions and lunch were held in the Royal School Armagh.

Feedback from schools and their teachers was extremely positive. "A very good day for both staff and students"; "Very well organized. It involved students in active learning". "It was very enjoyable and worthwhile".

The Director of the Armagh Observatory, Professor Mark Bailey, paid tribute to all the Observatory staff and others who had worked so hard to make the conference a success: "No conference 'just happens' " he said, "there is a lot of work behind the scenes in arranging the programme, organizing the educational activities, marking the results and — not least — for each school in arranging their attendance at the meeting and in participating fully in each day’s programme of structured scientific activities."

The conference was held as part of the Observatory’s contributions to the United Nations International Year of Astronomy IYA2009. This year, 2009, marks the 400th anniversary of the first use, by Galileo Galilei, of a telescope for astronomical observations. Leaflets, posters, and prizes for the best team activities on each day of the meeting, and for the best drawing of an astronomical object, were provided by the Royal Astronomical Society, the European Space Agency (ESA), the European Southern Observatory (ESO), the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the UK Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), the Faulkes Telescope Project (FT), and the Armagh Observatory and Armagh Planetarium.

Funding to support the meeting came from the Republic of Ireland’s 'Discover Science and Engineering’ initiative, and (through the Armagh Observatory) the Northern Ireland Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure. The first cross-border schools’ science conference was held in Armagh in March 2007.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mark Bailey or Miruna Popescu at the Armagh Observatory, College Hill, Armagh, BT61 9DG. Tel.: 028-3752-2928; E-mail: mebat signarm.ac.uk or mdpat signarm.ac.uk.

See also:
Report on IYA2009 site
Second Cross-Border Schools Science Conference

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Last Revised: 2009 May 5th
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