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Debating Science Issues

Joey’s Win All-Ireland Debating Science Issues

On Thursday, March 27th our TY Science Debating team won the prestigious All-Ireland Science Debating Issues Competition. This was a wonderful first for Joey’s as it was our first time ever in the competition and our first time winning it. The following students were members of our well-trained and enthusiastic team: Alex Fay (Captain and First Speaker), Manolito Aviles (Second Speaker) and three diligent researchers: J. Morgan, S. Moran and P. Redmond, who are pictured above/below with their winning trophy. Needless to say, they were expertly coached by their Science teacher Mr Sheahan who provided tactical and expert scientific advice to our enthusiastic TY team. However, the boys wish to underline the fact that the caretaker, Frank Cullen, was very good with offering expert advice on speech delivery.

Our students had to spend a long day in the hallowed halls of the Royal College of Surgeons Ireland (RCSI) as they spoke both in the Semi-Finals and Final. After a short opening address by Professor Raymond L. Stallings, Director of Research,
the first Semi-Final between Leinster and Ulster took place. The motion before the assembled guests was “This house proposes that the potential benefits of using embryonic stem cells to develop new medical treatments mean that we have a moral obligation to support this type of research.” Our team proposed the motion while the Northern team (Our Lady and St Patrick’s, Belfast) spoke in opposition. Both teams acquitted themselves well, but Joey’s had the slight edge in the quality of research and in their facility in putting their findings across clearly. To triumphant cheers from the assembled TY supporters Joey’s were judged to have won their semi-final.

Shortly afterwards, the second Semi-Final took place between Connaught (St Brigid’s Vocational School, Loughrea, Co. Galway) and Munster (Coláiste Mhuire, Crosshaven, Co. Cork). The Munster Team once again closely beat their rivals resulting in a Joey’s versus Coláiste Mhuire Final.

There was then a welcome break for lunch in the fine dining hall of the RCSI where all teams and their supporters were treated to a lunch of soup, sandwiches and tea or coffee.

Shortly after 2 p.m. the final commenced. St Joseph’s was once again proposing the motion that was before the house for the Final debate: “This House believes that an organ transplantation allocation that considers only factors associated with individual medical need is a more ethically acceptable method for distributing a scarce resource than a system that also considers factors associated with the patient’s contribution to society.”
Our team, as proposers of the motion, were first to speak followed by the Cork team. (It is important to note here that Scoil Mhuire, Crosshaven were allowed to field a different team as also were St Joseph’s, though we chose to field the same team of speakers, namely Alex and Manolito once again. It is to their credit that they managed to learn off two wholly different sets of speeches, while their opponents only had one set to memorise.)

This time, the two teams were so closely matched that it was really difficult to call the results accurately. The judges informed the audience that the teams were so close that they had to go back to adding up the relevant points for various stages in the debate to come up with a definitive winner. In the end we won, and it appears that it was the strength of our team’s rebuttals, and their spontaneous and easy reference to primary sources that swung the day for Joey’s.

Manolito neatly summed up his feelings about Debating Science Issues by saying that it was a whole team effort where each member was committed to researching primary sources that were indicated by their team mentor, and also to researching other relevant primary sources that they had discovered off their own bat. Further, he stressed that while it was their interest in science that had initially sparked their absorption in these debates, it was their growing passion for their subject that really won the day.