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RCSI report on Debating Finals

Dublin students capture top prize at 2014 Debating Science Issues All-Ireland Finals
06 April 2014
Students debated stem cell research and organ donations

RCSI (Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland) played host to the 2014 Debating Science Issues (DSI) All-Ireland Finals on Thursday 27th March at the College on St Stephen’s Green. St. Joseph’s CBS, from Fairview, Co.Dublin emerged as eventual winners of the competition. Colaiste Mhuire, from Crosshaven, Co. Cork were awarded All-Ireland Runners Up.
DSI is a dynamic debating competition, the only All-Ireland collaborative science outreach initiative of its kind, which invites young people to engage in debate on the cultural, societal and ethical implications of advances in biomedical science. Open to students in the senior cycle of secondary school, the competition provides a great opportunity for students to expand their communication and scientific skills.

Students Debate Science Issues!
The other schools involved in these hotly-contested finals were St Brigid’s Vocational School, Loughrea, Co. Galway and Our Lady & St. Patrick’s College, from Belfast, Co Antrim. The four teams, narrowed down from an original number of 34, came through regional preliminary debate rounds on a variety of contemporary biomedical science topics.
The first two debates of the day, in a semi-final format, featured St. Joseph’s CBS against Our Lady & St. Patrick’s; and St. Brigid’s versus Colaiste Mhuire, with St. Joseph’s and Colaiste Mhuire winning to meet each other in the grand final. The two teams debated the system of allocation of donated organs available for transplantation.

The 2014 DSI Champions of St. Joseph’s CBS, from Fairview in Dublin
Danielle Nicholson, All-Ireland Co-ordinator of Debating Science Issues (DSI) and REDDSTAR Dissemination Officer, said ‘DSI provides young people with insight into science as an institution and the processes by which scientific knowledge is produced. By incorporating the values and limits in science as well as its tactics for decision-making, DSI employs a discussion-based teaching model in the pre-competition workshops. It is important that students do not judge their understanding of scientific knowledge to be insufficient to allow them to engage with socio-scientific issues of concern. Argumentation is one of the cornerstones of the scientific process. DSI increases student engagement with science content and promotes reasoning and justification skills that help prepare an informed public’.
Data collected from six cycles of DSI involving more than 4,000 students shows an increase in interest in science as a subject and as a career as a result of participation in the project. There are nine partners of the Debating Science Issues initiative, who are RCSI; REDDSTAR (an EU project coordinated at NUI Galway) the Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre at UCC, Biomedical Diagnostics Institute at DCU, CRANN at Trinity College, W5 in Belfast, INSIGHT at UCD, Cork Institute of Technology and the University of Ulster, Coleraine.
The 2014 DSI All-Ireland Finals is funded by Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) Discover Programme project award.For more information, see www.debatingscienceissues.com.
Founded in 1784, RCSI’s mission is to develop healthcare leaders who make a difference worldwide. RCSI is a not-for-profit health sciences organisation which focuses on education and research to drive positive change in all areas of human health worldwide. RCSI is headquartered in Dublin and is a recognised College of the National University of Ireland.