Newswise — A joint collaboration between Queen’s University Belfast and the Ulster University, the Science Shop, which supports hundreds of community groups across Northern Ireland, today (Wednesday 20 February) celebrates its 30th anniversary.
Established in 1988, the Science Shop benefits the community and voluntary sector across the region and is part of the wider European network of Science Shops. It supports community 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 5 years alone the Science Shop has delivered 1,314 community 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 are Helen McGuinness from Queen’s, and joint winners from Ulster University, Laura Bingham and Kimberley Boyle.
Helen, a Master’s student in (MSc) Planning and Development from the School of Natural and Built Environment at Queen’s, worked with Springfield Charitable Association on the 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 undergrad student in BSc (Hons) Therapeutic Communication and Counselling Studies at Ulster University, 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 Master’s student in (MSc) Counselling Studies and Therapeutic Communication at Ulster University, worked in partnership with Foyle Down’s Syndrome Trust in the North West. Kimberley’s project examined the experience of parenting a child with Down syndrome and an evaluation of Foyle Down Syndrome Trust.
Commenting on the benefits of the Science Shop, Professor Ian Greer, President and Vice-Chancellor of Queen’s University Belfast said: “This is a powerful initiative harnessing the talents, knowledge and enthusiasm of students at Queen’s and Ulster University.
“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.
“Today’s celebration is an incredible milestone for all involved in the Science Shop. Both universities and community groups with whom they have worked over the years should be extremely proud of their achievements.”
Professor Paddy Nixon, Vice-Chancellor and President of Ulster University said: “The Science Shop is a 30-year partnership between Ulster University and Queen’s, which continues 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.
"The Science Shop is tangible example of the positive impact that our universities are having every day across Northern Ireland. I am confident that by continuing to work together, Ulster University and Queen’s will continue to build upon its success for future generations and for the benefit of our local communities.”
The Science Shops at Queen’s University and the Ulster University is a joint community resource and funded by the Department for the Economy through their Higher Education Innovation Fund.
For more information on the Science Shop, please visit: https://www.qub.ac.uk/sites/ScienceShop/ and https://www.ulster.ac.uk/flexible-education/community/science-shop