Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 24 April 2014

Science Shop: Top marks for university bright sparks enlightening Northern Ireland for 25 years

Claire Mulrone (left), and Eileen  Martin of Queen's University Science Shop
Claire Mulrone (left), and Eileen Martin of Queen's University Science Shop

A groundbreaking science programme in which Northern Ireland's students carry out work in the community is celebrating its 25th birthday.

The Science Shop has seen students investigate everything from suicide rates among gay men to how to restore a quarry in an environmentally-friendly way that also pays its way.

Students embark on the projects as part of their degrees, and they are aimed at tackling real-life problems and making a positive difference to local communities.

Over the past 25 years, the Science Shop – a joint venture between Queen's University and the University of Ulster – has delivered almost 2,500 projects and worked with more than 650 community groups including sports clubs and recycling centres.

This year's winners of the Queen's University Science Shop Award are final year management students Tim Greeves, Aaron Hunter, Sarah Maxwell and Leanne Millar.

They examined the productivity of Bryson Recycling's new vehicle design – and found it beat the old one hands down.

One of the University of Ulster's Science Shop winners was Tomas Gorman, a Social Policy with Politics graduate. He worked with Trademark, an anti-sectarian organisation, and analysed worker-owned cooperatives to explore whether they are a form of communal division and poverty.

Belfast Lord Mayor, Mairtin O Muilleoir, said the Science Shop has a positive impact.

"Not only do our communities benefit from the projects, the students also benefit from implementing the skills they have learnt during their degree studies.

"The Science Shop should be immensely proud of their achievements over the last 25 years," he said.

Queen's acting Vice-Chancellor, Professor James McElnay, described the Science Shop as a "powerful initiative".

He added: "Over the past 25 years, it has become a tremendous force for good, making a real impact on communities around Northern Ireland."

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