Education news

University Science Shop celebrates 30 years

Kimberley Boyle; Professor Paddy Nixon, UU Vice-Chancellor; Laura Bingham; Helen McGuinness and Professor Ian Greer, Queen's Vice-Chancellor

A JOINT collaboration between Queen's University Belfast and the Ulster University, which supports hundreds of community groups, has celebrated its thirtieth anniversary.

Established in 1988, the Science Shop benefits the community and voluntary sector.

It supports organisations in developing research projects which are carried out by students at Queen's and Ulster University as part of their degree programme.

Over the past five years alone, the Science Shop has delivered 1,314 research projects, with 4,894 students and 366 community organisations taking part. These groups have included sports clubs, youth groups and environmental organisations.

This year's first place winners of the Science Shop student awards were Helen McGuinness from Queen's, and joint winners from UU, Laura Bingham and Kimberley Boyle.

Helen, a masters student in planning and development worked with Springfield Charitable Association on Falls Road. She carried out an urban design analysis of the west Belfast area in terms of thinking through good practice in planning for dementia.

Laura, an undergraduate student in therapeutic communication and counselling studies worked in partnership with the Lighthouse Charity in north Belfast on her project entitled "An investigation of the confidence and competency of crisis counsellors working with suicide".

Kimberley, a masters student in counselling studies and therapeutic communication worked in partnership with Foyle Down's Syndrome Trust. Her project examined the experience of parenting a child with Down's syndrome and an evaluation of Foyle Down Syndrome Trust.

Queen's Vice-Chancellor Professor Ian Greer said Science Shop was "a powerful initiative harnessing the talents, knowledge and enthusiasm of students".

"Over the past 30 years, the Science Shop has made a real impact on communities across Northern Ireland and has encouraged students to apply their knowledge and learning to real-life problems, helped them understand the challenges facing various groups within our society, and encouraged them to give back to the community," he said.

UU Vice-Chancellor Professor Paddy Nixon said the partnership continued to contribute valuable research expertise and enable knowledge transfer into the community and voluntary sectors.

"With almost 5,000 communities having benefited in the last five years alone from the involvement of Ulster and Queen's students, the provision of research, data and expertise that can shape and inform their activities is an invaluable resource. It also provides a fantastic opportunity for students to understand how their skills and knowledge can be applied and make a real difference in the lives of real people," he said.

The Science Shops at Queen's and UU is a joint community resource and funded by the Department for the Economy through its Higher Education Innovation Fund.

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