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: mebarm.ac.uk or mdparm.ac.uk.
|Last Revised: 2009 May 5th
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