ReelLife Science Schools Video Competition WINNERS!

The ReelLife Science team and Special Guest Judges are delighted to announce the inaugural ReelLife Science Schools Science Video Competition Winners.

SECONDARY SCHOOL WINNERS

In first place at Secondary school level, under the “Astrobiology” category, we have a stunning video called “Life in Space” created by the multi-talented St. Enda’s College Transition Year student Michael McAndrew, under the direction of Mr. Fahey and Mr. Conroy. This remarkable film combines a fantastic concept and animation style with an intelligent script, wonderful delivery and original score. The film describes the fascinating field of Astrobiology, encompassing the origin and future of life on earth and the search for extraterrestrial life in other “Goldilocks Zones”. The simple yet effective cartoon style could conceivably be used to explain a range of different scientific topics, and the ReelLife Science team can’t wait to see more of Michael’s excellent work. In Michael’s own words “it is very exciting what the future might bring us“.

This outstanding production proved a worthy winner of the inaugural ReelLife Science Secondary school competition. We hope Michael and his fellow Transition Year students in St. Enda’s College enjoy spending their €250 on promoting science and science communication.

In second place, under the “Stem Cells” category, we have a video produced by St. Mary’s College Second Year students Mark Gilligan, Josh Pyne, Alan Duggan and Shane Hastings and Leaving Certificate student Colm Barry, with the help of their teacher Mr. Carey. This well-acted and imaginative film sees two young “stem cells” who haven’t yet decided on a career path, meet their knowledgeable Careers Officer, who briefs them on the options available to multipotent, pluripotent and even induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs).

Both Special Guest Judge Professors Ceredig and Brand work in the field of Stem Cell Biology, as does ReelLife Science team member and REMEDI PhD student Dave Browe, and all three scientists were extremely impressed with the level of detail communicated in this short movie. The guys will receive over €150 worth of scientific equipment and resources for their school’s Science program.

In third place, under the category “The Environment”, we have a video about “Littering” made by Claregalway College First Year student Natasha Feery Byrne, under the guidance of her teacher Ms. Nolan. In the words of Special Guest Judge Prof. Rhodri Ceredig “the video has a very commendable and engaging cartoon style presentation, with a nice message“. Like ReelLife Science, Claregalway College is in its very first year of existence, but they have really engaged with the competition and we look forward to receiving more videos from them in the future! Natasha will receive over €100 worth of scientific equipment and resources for her school’s Science program.

PRIMARY SCHOOL WINNERS

In first place at Primary school level, under the “Habitats” category, we have a video as Gaeilge about Seed Dispersal called “Scaipeadh siolta i Rosmuc”. This memorable video was made by the 5th and 6th class students in Scoil Mhuire Rosmuc, under the direction of their teacher Ms. Ni Chonaola. The wonderfully produced video comes with an extremely impressive script, to which Ms. Ni Chonaola was kind enough to provide an English translation for non-Irish speakers. The students took a very specific topic in Seed Dispersal and Germination, and produced three very amusing and informative sketches demonstrating different methods of dispersal. Furthermore, they performed some experiments of their own on the various seeds they found, identifying the different traits associated with them, based on their method of dispersal. We hope the 5th and 6th class students in Scoil Mhuire Rosmuc enjoy spending their €250 on promoting science and science communication in their school.

In second place, under the “Keeping Healthy” category, we have a video about dealing with germs, featuring a catchy musical number called “Germ Busters”. The video was made by the students in Cloghans Hill National School, Tuam under the guidance of their teacher Ms. Mangan. This instructional video classifies the germs we are likely to meet on a daily basis, and shows us the benefits of handwashing and disinfection. The school runs a really informative blog about all of their activities, as well as a dedicated page for their wonderful garden, and a Twitter feed. Ms. Mangan will receive over €150 worth of scientific equipment and resources for their school’s Science program.

Finally, in third place, under the “Our Bodies” category, we have a video about our Five Senses, focusing on the sense of touch. The video was made by the Junior and Senior Infants class in Belmont National School, Milltown, with the help of their teacher Ms. McGrath. The video covers the topic extremely well, with wonderfully demonstrated examples of all our senses, as well as some lovely poems about our sense of touch. Like Cloghans Hill NS, the school runs a fantastic blog about all of their activities, including science and maths projects, school visits and tours, and have already featured their wonderful ReelLife Science video there! Ms. McGrath will receive over €100 worth of scientific equipment and resources for her school’s Science program.

Congratulations to all the winners and well done to everyone who took part!

If you liked these videos, please share them with your friends to show them how Science can be fun at any age!

The videos above will be shown to the general public at the Galway Science and Technology Festival exhibition on November 24th.

ReelLife Science is supported by the EXPLORE Innovation Initiative and the College of Science at NUI Galway, as well as the “I’m a Scientist…Get me out of here, Ireland” program. 

Additional prizes were kindly supplied by Lennox Educational and Medical Supply Company as well as Junior Scientist and ScienceSpin.com, in the form of annual subscriptions to their excellent Science magazines “Junior Scientist” and “Science Spin“.

Announcing the ReelLife Science 2013 Secondary School Winners

Following on from our announcement of the ReelLife Science 2013 Primary School Winners on Tuesday, we’re delighted to bring you the Top Three Secondary School Videos in the inaugural ReelLife Science schools video competition.

In third place, under the category “The Environment”, we have a video about “Littering” made by Claregalway College First Year student Natasha Feery Byrne, under the guidance of her teacher Ms. Nolan. In the words of Special Guest Judge Prof. Rhodri Ceredig “the video has a very commendable and engaging cartoon style presentation, with a nice message“. Like ReelLife Science, Claregalway College is in its very first year of existence, but they have really engaged with the competition and we look forward to receiving more videos from them in the future! Natasha will receive over €100 worth of scientific equipment and resources for her school’s Science program. 

In second place, under the “Stem Cells” category, we have a video produced by St. Mary’s College Second Year students Mark Gilligan, Josh Pyne, Alan Duggan and Shane Hastings and Leaving Certificate student Colm Barry, with the help of their teacher Mr. Carey. This well-acted and imaginative film sees two young “stem cells” who haven’t yet decided on a career path, meet their knowledgeable Careers Officer, who briefs them on the options available to multipotent, pluripotent and even induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs).

Both Special Guest Judge Professors Ceredig and Brand work in the field of Stem Cell Biology, as does ReelLife Science team member and REMEDI PhD student Dave Browe, and all three scientists were extremely impressed with the level of detail communicated in this short movie. The guys will receive over €150 worth of scientific equipment and resources for their school’s Science program.

Finally, in first place, under the “Astrobiology” category, we have a stunning video called “Life in Space” created by the multi-talented St. Enda’s College Transition Year student Michael McAndrew, under the direction of Mr. Fahey and Mr. Conroy. This remarkable film combines a fantastic concept and animation style with an intelligent script, wonderful delivery and original score. The film describes the fascinating field of Astrobiology, encompassing the origin and future of life on earth and the search for extraterrestrial life in other “Goldilocks Zones”. The simple yet effective cartoon style could conceivably be used to explain a range of different scientific topics, and the ReelLife Science team can’t wait to see more of Michael’s excellent work. In Michael’s own words “it is very exciting what the future might bring us“.

Overall, this outstanding production proved a worthy winner of the inaugural ReelLife Science Secondary school competition. We hope Michael and his fellow Transition Year students in St. Enda’s College enjoy spending their €250 on promoting science and science communication.

An honourable mention goes to a video entitled “Crying with Emotion” produced by Transition Year students in Coláiste Chroí Mhuire gan Smal, Spiddal, which along with the videos mentioned above, has been selected by the judges to be shown to the general public at the Galway Science and Technology Festival exhibition on November 24th.

Huge thanks and well done to everyone who took part.

If you liked these videos, please share them with your friends to show them how Science can be fun at any age!

ReelLife Science is supported by the EXPLORE Innovation Initiative and the College of Science at NUI Galway, as well as the “I’m a Scientist…Get me out of here, Ireland” program. Additional prizes were generously donated by Lennox Educational, Medical Supply Company and ScienceSpin.com, in the form of annual subscriptions to their excellent science magazine “Science Spin”.

Announcing the ReelLife Science 2013 Primary School Winners

After much deliberation from our Special Guest Judges, we’re delighted, as part of Science Week 2013, to announce the Top Three videos at Primary School level in the very first ReelLife Science video competition.

In third place, under the “Our Bodies” category, we have a video about our Five Senses, focusing on the sense of touch. The video was made by the Junior and Senior Infants class in Belmont National School, Milltown, with the help of their teacher Ms. McGrath. The video covers the topic extremely well, with wonderfully demonstrated examples of all our senses, as well as some lovely poems about our sense of touch. The school runs a fantastic blog about all of their activities, including science and maths projects, school visits and tours, and have already featured their wonderful ReelLife Science video there! Ms. McGrath will receive over €100 worth of scientific equipment and resources for her school’s Science program.

In second place, under the “Keeping Healthy” category, we have a video about dealing with germs, featuring a catchy musical number called “Germ Busters”. The video was made by the students in Cloghans Hill National School, Tuam under the guidance of their teacher Ms. Mangan. This instructional video classifies the germs we are likely to meet on a daily basis, and shows us the benefits of handwashing and disinfection. Like Belmont NS, the school runs a really informative blog about all of their activities, as well as a dedicated page for their wonderful garden, and a Twitter feed with almost 100 hundred followers. Let’s see if we can get them a few more… Ms. Mangan will receive over €150 worth of scientific equipment and resources for their school’s Science program.

Finally, in first place, under the “Habitats” category, we have a video as Gaeilge about Seed Dispersal called “Scaipeadh siolta i Rosmuc”. This memorable video was made by the 5th and 6th class students in Scoil Mhuire Rosmuc, under the direction of their teacher Ms. Ni Chonaola. The wonderfully produced video comes with an extremely impressive script, to which Ms. Ni Chonaola was kind enough to provide an English translation for non-Irish speakers. The students took a very specific topic in Seed Dispersal and Germination, and produced three very amusing and informative sketches demonstrating different methods of dispersal. Furthermore, they performed some experiments of their own on the various seeds they found, identifying the different traits associated with them, based on their method of dispersal.

Overall, this outstanding production proved a worthy winner of the inaugural ReelLife Science competition. We hope the 5th and 6th class students in Scoil Mhuire Rosmuc enjoy spending their €250 on promoting science and science communication in their school.

Honourable mentions go to two other videos, a School Survey carried out by Mr. O’Meachain’s 4th and 5th class students in Gaelscoil Riabhach, Loughrea and a “Tour de Body” performed by Mr. McNamara and Ms. Glynn’s 5th and 6th class students in Scoil Padraig Naofa, Claregalway.

As with the videos mentioned above, these two videos have been selected by the judges to be shown to the general public at the Galway Science and Technology Festival exhibition on November 24th.

Well done to everyone who took part.

If you liked these videos, please share them with your friends to show them how Science can be fun at any age!

The Secondary School winners can be viewed here.

ReelLife Science is supported by the EXPLORE Innovation Initiative and the College of Science at NUI Galway, as well as the “I’m a Scientist…Get me out of here, Ireland” program. Additional prizes were kindly supplied by Lennox Educational, Medical Supply Company and Junior Scientist, in the form of annual subscriptions to their Primary School science magazine.

VIDEO: Introduction to ReelLife Science and Two Simple Science Experiments

The ReelLife Science team has been busy this week making a video introducing the ReelLife Science competition as well as having some fun in the lab with some easy-to-do experiments, that are ideal for the classroom.

Check out the video here

First, we show you how to make a homemade lava lamp, with just some water, cooking oil, food colouring and an Alka-seltzer tablet.

screenshot a

Next, we show you how to make an Oobleck (a non-Newtonian liquid made from cornflour and water) and then how to make it dance!

Dancing Oobleck

Dancing Oobleck

Dancing Oobleck Close Up

Dancing Oobleck Close Up

Convergent EVOLUTION: “Are Dolphins and Bats more related than we think?” by Cariosa Switzer

Continuing our series of articles written by NUI Galway Biotechnology undergraduate ReelLife Science team members, Cariosa Switzer introduces the concept of Convergent Evolution:

Convergent evolution is one of the most interesting topics studied within the field of evolution. It occurs when completely diverse species develop similar traits, habits or appearances, despite living in habitats that can be separated by thousands of miles. Their habitats usually have comparable aspects, such as climates or vegetation or the existence of predators. Dry regions of South Africa have a wide selection of succulent plants, some of which look very similar to American cacti, as both have evolved to endure minimal water levels. An example of animals that are linked by convergent evolution is the Honey Possum, native to Australia, and species of butterfly found all around the world. Both have evolved a long tongue for taking nectar from flowers (see below).

Honey Possum. Photo credit www.valleyofthegiantsecopark.biz

Honey Possum. Photo credit http://www.valleyofthegiantsecopark.biz

Painted Lady. Photo credit  www.greeneyedmuse.wordpress.com

Painted Lady. Photo credit http://www.greeneyedmuse.wordpress.com

Echolocation is a type of biological sonar used by both dolphins and bats, and is a well-known example of convergent evolution. Although it may seem that bats and dolphins do not live in similar environments, in fact, they both live in areas where visibility is poor. For bats it is in dark caves and for dolphins it is murky waters. These animals use sounds to “see”, by emitting calls into their environment and listening to the echoes bouncing back from animals and objects nearby. From the strength and delay in hearing the echo they are able to determine how close they are to these objects.

Echolocation. Image credit www.hearinghealthmatters.org/

Echolocation. Image credit http://www.hearinghealthmatters.org/

Scientists from Queen Mary University of London studied whether bats and dolphins had genetic similarities (i.e. a similar “genotype”) as well as being physically alike (i.e. a similar “phenotype”). In their paper, which was published by the scientific journal Nature, they describe how they looked at the genomes (collection of an organism’s genes) of 22 mammals including bottlenose dolphins, bats that echolocate, bats that don’t echolocate, humans, horses, dogs and mice. This study has been the largest search for evidence for genetic convergence ever undertaken.

Through this research, the team of scientists were able to prove that there is evidence of convergent evolution in nearly 200 different areas of the genome. This is a huge amount, as one of the leading biologists in this research, Joe Parker indicated – “A few dozen would probably have surprised us”.

This discovery is proving fundamental to our knowledge of convergent evolution, as it was previously assumed that the similarities were mainly physical, however, now, a whole new door has been opened in the study of convergent evolution.

If you want to see for yourself how bats use echolocation why not try out this game?

Cariosa Switzer

Announcing the ReelLife Science Special Guest Judges

Ciara Judge, Sophie Healy-Thow and Emer Hickey. Photo credit: Irish Times

Ciara Judge, Sophie Healy-Thow and Emer Hickey. Photo credit: Irish Times

ReelLife Science are delighted to announce that our Special Guest Judges for 2013 are the three Young Scientists from Kinsale in Co. Cork, who won first prize at this year’s BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition and then went on to scoop the top Biology prize at the European Union Contest for Young Scientists in Prague two weeks ago.

The three Young Scientists proved that the use of Nitrogen-fixing bacteria can significantly accelerate barley seed germination rates, which has huge potential to improve the yield of valuable crops. The results are based on the analysis of the performance of over 5,290 seed samples in 105 experimental runs over a 6 month period.

Emer and Sophie appeared on yesterday’s RTE “elev8” programme speaking about their award-winning research (skip to 15 mins).

We are honoured to have the three girls as part of our team, along with our other Expert Judges, Professor Andrea Brand of the Gurdon Institute in Cambridge and Professor Rhodri Ceredig of the Regenerative Medicine Institute (REMEDI) in NUI Galway.

Prof. Andrea Brand, Gurdon Institute, Cambridge

Prof. Andrea Brand, Gurdon Institute, Cambridge

Prof. Brand’s research focuses on understanding how stem cells specialise to become part of our nervous systems, e.g. neurons, with the goal of repairing or regenerating damaged neurons in the brain or spinal cord. The Gurdon Institute was named after Prof. John Gurdon, who shared last year’s Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine “for the discovery that mature cells can be reprogrammed to become pluripotent.” This work has led to the development of the field of iPSCs, or Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells, where non-stem cells can be reprogrammed to become stem cells, and in turn, different types of cells from around the body.

Prof. Rhodri Ceredig, REMEDI, NUI Galway

Prof. Rhodri Ceredig, REMEDI, NUI Galway

Prof. Rhodri Ceredig also works with Stem Cells, and is particularly interested in their role in the Immune System, work which is carried out in the Regenerative Medicine Institute (REMEDI) in NUI Galway. REMEDI’s main focus is using Stem Cells to promote organ and tissue repair and regeneration, in the areas of cardiovascular disease, diabetes mellitus and osteoarthritis. Prof. Ceredig has a particular interest in Flow Cytometry, which is a powerful technique used to count and separate cells into different populations. Check out the Irish Cytometry Society for more information.

We are delighted to have these eminent scientists as part of our ReelLife Science Team!

OUR BODIES: “Separating fact from fiction” by Marie Carkill

In the second of our articles written by Biotechnology undergraduate ReelLife Science team members, Marie Carkill answers some questions about Our Bodies:

There are a multitude of features often overlooked or unnoticed about the human body, which when examined, can prove fascinating. Separating fact from fiction when it comes to the science of our bodies, can sometimes go against what we had always believed to be true.

Let’s ask some “why” questions that few people really take the time to think about, just take for granted; no questions asked. It’s the scientific answers to the day-to-day questions that really ignite the inquisitive flame within us!

Why does hair turn grey?

Chelsea FC Manager Jose Mourinho. Photo Credit: Tsutomu Takasu

Chelsea FC Manager Jose Mourinho. Photo Credit: Tsutomu Takasu

At the base of each hair follicle, pigment cells are located which produce a chemical called melanin. As hair grows, the pigment cells produce the natural dominant colour (brown, blonde etc.). But as we get older, the pigment cells begin to die and as the hair grows it will no longer contain as much melanin. Colour is lost from individual hairs one by one until eventually, hair looks completely grey or white.

Why, when nervous do we get a dry throat and “butterflies in the stomach”?

When we are in a tense or dangerous situation, the renowned “fight or flight” reaction comes into play. The body shuts down any unnecessary functions, including the digestive system, in order to utilise all its energy on the most important organs (heart, muscles) to making a quick getaway.

Why does skin wrinkle after prolonged immersion in water?

Water-immersion wrinkling. Photo credit: Fir0002/Flagstaffotos

Water-immersion wrinkling. Photo credit: Fir0002/Flagstaffotos

Our whole body is covered in a protective waterproof layer of keratin, but on our fingers and toes this layer is continuously worn away. When we take a bath or go swimming the thick and tough layer of “exposed” skin begins to absorb water by osmosis and expand, causing the skin to buckle.

Why does garlic give you bad breath?

Garlic owes its pungency to a potent antifungal and antibacterial compound called allicin which can produce a multitude of sulphur-containing compounds, produced after cutting the clove. After eating some garlic, allicin and its products enter the digestive system, and later into the bloodstream and can only leave the body again by means of exhalation or perspiration. This is why the effects of eating garlic could prolong until the morning after a meal! Even just rubbing garlic on the skin can be enough to conjure smelly breath, as it exits the body though sweat or via the lungs.

Why do our knuckles make a cracking noise?

Cracking knuckles (photo credit: Orijinal)

Cracking knuckles. Photo credit: Orijinal

When the joint is stressed, bubbles of nitrogen gas form within the synovial fluid. When the pressure changes, the bubbles collapse creating the “cracking” sound in the joint. Despite several theories, there is little evidence to suggest that knuckle cracking causes arthritis. One American doctor even went to the extremes of spending 50 years cracking the knuckles on just one hand to see if there was a difference – there wasn’t.

Why do fingernails and hair grow after death?

This is myth, hair and fingernails do not grow after death. Instead, the surrounding tissues dry out as the bodies dehydrate. The skin tightens and shrinks away from the nail folds and hair shafts, creating the illusion of growth.

Marie Carkill