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Galway teachers and students learn from CERN

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Two Galway teachers have been applying the tricks of the trade from the world’s most eminent scientists since returning from the European home of nuclear research in Geneva to their classrooms for the new term.

Neasa Mhic Dhonncha, science and maths teacher and Transition Year coordinator at Scoil Chuimsitheach Chiaráin in Carraroe and Eleanor Nolan, the head of science and STEM coordinator at Claregalway College, spent three weeks this summer at CERN.

The pair were invited by the Galway Science and Technology Festival to attend the course alongside 54 teachers from 31 different countries after bringing their students to several events in recent years.

The course involves workshops, lectures and site visits at the engine room of international physics, with the opportunity to network with some of the great brains in science as well as teachers from across different educational backgrounds.

Talks examine the origins of the universe, teachers study particle physics, cosmology, particle accelerators and medical applications of particle physics. Workshops focus on how to improve science teaching to students in order to stimulate interest in the next generation.

“It was a brilliant course, very intensive. Just talking to other teachers and finding out about how they do things in their country was invaluable, sharing their ideas about teaching methods, it was very helpful,” enthuses Neasa.

“Instead of talking about particle physics, you get the overall picture of what’s happening in CERN, which is reinforcing information and getting a different understanding of it.”

CERN hit the headlines last year after the news that experiments performed by the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) on the campus in Geneva had discovered a Higgs boson, the so-called God particle, which the current model of physics describes as giving mass to all particles in the universe. Being at the site of the discovery gave a true sense of the enormity of the breakthrough, but what became clear after the visit was that nothing was clear at all.

“Nobody’s really 100% sure about anything. They’re still investigating everything. Even the findings last year, they’re still working on them and trying to get beyond that, they’re still investigating,” explains Neasa.

There has been a surge in interest among students in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subjects, particularly in higher level maths with an extra 25 points up for grabs in the CAO system. Four times the number of students in Carraroe are taking the combined psychics and chemistry course compared to a decade ago.

This week 44 city students and five teachers from Coláiste na Coiribe on the Tuam Road and Coláiste Einde in Salthill left on a four-day school tour to CERN.

The group is being led by teachers Mícheál Ó Marcacháin and Matt Lockett, who last year participated in the same High School Teachers programme.

Matthew explained that a visit to CERN gives an immediacy to physics, which is applied in every walk of life. Much of the science behind cancer treatment is based on the work of medical imaging invented at the Geneva centre while the internet was also invented there. It was through work here that satellites and mobile phones were created.

“The curriculum tends to focus on physics that was discovered three to four hundred years ago. Even modern physics was discovered in the last 120 years.

“It’s good to show how it’s evolving which helps drum up interest.”   Following last year’s visit, both colleges introduce particle physics at a much earlier stage of the curriculum and they use new power point presentations and classroom resources. There are plans to hold masterclass webcasts with CERN scientists.

CITY TRIBUNE

Publicans in antigen plea to Government

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Johnny Duggan of the Vintners Association: Antigen tests could help minimise restrictions at times when Covid is circulating widely.

Galway publicans are pleading with Government to pilot an antigen test scheme in the city in January – a move that could rescue the local hospitality sector.

Galway City Vintners have proposed the introduction of a pilot scheme in city centre pubs in January, which if successful, could allow the sector to re-open with minimum restrictions, even when the Covid-19 is rampant.

Government Ministers and the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) are divided on the efficacy of antigen tests, which give rapid results that are less reliable than PCR tests.

But publicans believe asking customers to produce a negative antigen test result – as well as their Covid-19 certificates – to get served in pubs, this could help save the hospitality sector by reducing the need for social distancing inside venues.

They don’t believe it would be necessary all-year-round, but could be useful in keeping hospitality open with minimum restrictions during weeks when Covid is circulating widely in the community.

They said it would allow the safe return of drinking at bar counters, dancing in venues, and extended opening hours. Currently pubs, even late bars, must close at 11.3pm instead of 2.30am.

Galway City Vintners expect Covid will continue in waves and this proposal is an attempt to be proactive to keep their businesses, the sector – and socialising in pubs – afloat, according to spokesman Johnny Duggan.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Rehearsals in full swing for pantos at Town Hall and An Taibhdhearc

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Jeacaí agus an Fathach Mór Dána’ will be performed at An Taibhdhearc.Photo: Boyd Challenger.

Galway’s two pantomimes are still forging full steam ahead amid advice for parents to limit children socialising indoors as Covid infection rates among unvaccinated youths continue to soar.

A concert featuring Julie Feeney and Ultan Conlon at the Town Hall Theatre planned for last night as well as gigs with comedian Eilish O’Carroll and folk singer Seán Keane have been deferred to March due to sluggish sales following a plea by the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) to limit social contacts.

Manager Fergal McGrath said sales up until a fortnight ago were very healthy and they have been very happy with the success of gigs with Billy Bragg, the Villagers and Kojaque in November with near full capacity and without incident.

“We’ve had some people cancel but nowhere near the figure in other venues,” he remarked.

“We relaxed our refunds policy and have maintained a very strict adherence to the guidelines checking vaccination certs, IDs, having space out queues and insisting that people wear masks. We closed the bar in the Town Hall as there wasn’t enough space to accommodate all patrons. In the Black Box, we operated a click and collect system and erected a marquee outside for people to drink.

“We have very receptive audiences, there is an absolute willingness to wear the masks that a year ago may not have been accepted. People were thanking us in the Black Box for still being able to get out. A member of the advisory team for NEPHET was at one of the shows and was very impressed with how we managed everything. It’s not been an easy few months, but we’ve figured out how to get through this and implement all the guidelines.”

Cinderella, this year’s Renmore Pantomime, is still expected to be staged from December 29 to January 9. The Town Hall made an early decision to reduce capacity to 60 per cent, which has proved fateful as around that level of tickets have now been sold.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

 

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CITY TRIBUNE

Sweeping changes on way to fight congestion

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Traffic on the Headford Road approaching the junction close to Galway Shopping Centre.

A parking levy on workers; reduced public parking in the city centre; an end to additional road infrastructure; and reduced speed limits are all part of a new government plan to tackle congestion in the city.

In the Departments of Transport’s Demand Management Strategy, sweeping measures are proposed to reduce the number of cars on city roads – caveated with a warning that proper alternatives are required before significant changes are implemented.

Among the measures proposed is a levy on workplace parking spaces – a move the report suggests would cut by 5% the number of cars on Galway roads.

It is outlined that Nottingham was the first European city to introduce such a measure and proposes that a similar approach should be taken here whereby all monies raised by the levy are invested into public transport improvements.

The levy, it is claimed, would influence decisions to travel by car; reduce the space taken up by parked cars; and reduce costly parking infrastructure in new developments.

An attempted move towards this in 2008, which levied employers €200 for workplace parking spaces was fiercely resisted and ultimately collapsed.

However, the report concludes that it merits consideration – particularly for Galway where it deduces that congestion charges are not appropriate.

Elsewhere in the report, it is proposed that an up to 300% increase in the cost of on-street parking, in conjunction with an up to 50% cull of the space used for stationary cars, could result in a further reduction in congestion.

This measure, which is identified as a ‘relatively high priority’ for Galway, should form part of an overall strategy to remove on-street public parking spaces, including some residential parking permits, it states.

The report could spell bad news for the Government attitude towards funding the Galway City Ring Road –  on which an Bord Pleanála is due to give its decision by the end of this month.

The findings include an assertion that additional road infrastructure does not solve the issue of congestion – it could actually worsen the situation.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

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