Today, I brought my kids along to the Discovery 2010 exhibition in Cork’s City Hall. The show is the centrepiece of Science Week in Cork and it features exhibitions from CIT, UCC, Blackrock Castle Observatory, the Tyndall Institute, Lifetime Labs and many more.

There were tons of interactive displays. The Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre were showing the kids petri dishes full of bacteria and luminescent microbes from the deep sea. There were Venus flytraps and molecular construction kits in the UCC stall, as well as a strange game that allowed two contestants to challenge each other using mind waves alone. The Tyndall display had a lot of of weird electronics on show, from photoelectronics to nanotechnology to wireless sensors. Pharmachemical Ireland were showing lot of hand-on demonstrations including a great explanation of keyhole surgery. Across the way, the Cork Electronics Industry Association were displaying magnetic levitation (MAGLEV) technologies using flying saucers and rotating spheres.

The Defense Forces and Gardai were there too. The Defense Forces had a highly informative display on land-mines and bomb-disposal. They even a heavy kevlar bomb-protection suit for people to try on for size. The Gardai were handing out high-visibility vests and armbands to all the kids.

Blackrock Castle Observatory were there with the StarDome – a mobile planetarium used as part of their astronomy outreach program. I managed to squeeze myself and the kids in for the last showing of the day. Inside was an informative surround-movie depicting a solar eclipse from the perspective of a base on the Moon. My kids gave it the thumbs up as their favorite exhibit of the show.

I was also highly impressed by some of the demonstrations by the Lifetime Labs people, showing how to make simple batteries out of lemons. They tell me that you would need 500 lemons to light up a small incandescent bulb, so if I notice my kids storing lemons everywhere, I’ll figure out quickly what is going on.

Scattered throughout the show area are many interactive displays. What particularly caught my kids’ attention was a revolving planet model that went beautifully turbulent if you suddenly stopped its motion.

Not only were the displays impressive, some of the people at the show had interesting and inspirational stories to tell. I spoke briefly to Ms Xiao Fang Zhang, who won the European Laurate of Innovation Award for the invention of an air-bubble extractor – extremely important for intravenous infusions of any sort. She is a student of Mechanical Engineering in CIT and is currently studying for her PhD.

The show is well worth bringing the children to. The exhibits are hands-on and geared to what kids are interested in. There is a sense of energy and fun amongst the exhibitors. In brief, the organisers have done a great job and the kids will love it.

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