Berlin Long Night of Science Award

Berlin Long Night of Science Award

Alex and Anna Talk About Their Trip to Berlin

Alex Scott and Anna Woodward from the Ursuline College in Sligo were the winners of the Berlin Long Night of Science Award at the SciFest 2022 National Final. The award consisted of a trophy and an all expenses paid trip to attend the Berlin Long Night of Science. They travelled to Berlin in June and were accompanied on the trip by their teacher Anthony Carolan.

When we arrived in Berlin, neither of us could contain our excitement. We were picked up from the airport and taken straight to our hotel. The hotel was very modern, and the staff were so friendly. There was free tea and coffee in the lobby all the time and a bright, open courtyard to sit and enjoy it. The room we were staying in was lovely, with a pleasant view and even our own kitchenette! We did not stay in the hotel long, for we went straight into the city centre to explore! As we wandered around, we were struck by the beauty of Berlin City. We visited the famous Checkpoint Charlie and learned about its importance during the Cold War. We even took part in a Checkpoint Charlie themed espcae room which we just managed to solve with under 2 minutes to go on the clock. It was a really entertaining way to challenge our mind and problem solving skills, all while having loads of fun.

The next day, we visited the Irish Embassy. We were greeted there with a warm welcome by John Lynam, Deputy Head of Mission. We talked about the good relationships between Ireland and Germany and German international relations and were then given a fascinating tour of the embassy by Marlen Jacobshagen, the Assistant Public Diplomacy and Policy Officer. After leaving the embassy, we visited one of Berlin’s most fun attractions, Illuseum Berlin. Walking through this illusion museum was a mind-bending experience that challenged our perception and left us questioning reality. After lunch, we went on a fascinating tour of the Berlin underground. We followed our tour guide through the remains of the World War 2 bunkers and bomb shelters as she told us interesting facts and stories about WWII. Although it was an engrossing experience, it was a harrowing one too. We gained an insight into what life was like for the suffering people of Berlin at the time, and how nothing good ever comes of war. Once we had emerged back above ground into the bustling streets, we got the wonderful opportunity to visit the medical devices company, Getemed. We were welcomed by Robert Down, a project development engineer who gave us a tour of the offices and labs. He demonstrated some of the current devices that the company are working on. It was very beneficial for us to see the crucial processes and testing that is required to manufacture a medical device. After our tour we were given a chance to discuss our device with Robert and he gave us some useful feedback and advice. Following this we shared a selection of fresh cakes and tarts and had some lovely chats before he drove us back to the city centre. Every year, the Ambassador of Ireland for Germany hosts a garden party in his residence for Bloomsday to celebrate the works of James Joyce. This year we were invited to this wonderful event as guests of the Irish embassy! This was certainly an unforgettable experience for the both of us as we mingled with people from across the world and even got the opportunity to talk to the Ambassador, Dr. Nicholas O'Brien about our project and our visit to Berlin for the Long Night of Science. The Minister of State for Sport and Physical Education, Thomas Byrne was also attending this occasion, as he was in Berlin to hold the Irish flag for the opening ceremony of the Special Olympics that was taking place the following day, and it was good to discuss our project with him as he was fascinated by the sport side of it.

We started off our last full day in Berlin by hiring electric scooters and travelling along the remains of the Berlin Wall. The intricate artworks covering the wall sent us back in time as we could visually understand the emotions and troubles of Berliners during the war and after. Afterwards we headed to the Brandenburg Gate and the Reichstag, both being worthwhile attractions to visit in the city. Following that we took a trip to museum island and visited the Neuse Muesum which currently holds a surprising intact bust of the Egyptian Queen Nefertiti, dates to the time of the ancient Egyptians. It was an interesting museum full of countless artefacts from thousands of years ago.

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Finally, the highlight of our trip, the Long Night of Science. We started off our night in Berlin IT, as we stepped in, we were immediately greeted with an atmosphere buzzing with excitement and curiosity. Each room containing interactive exhibits showcasing fascinating scientific achievements and discoveries. We spent some time at this venue before moving to another. The next venue, Humboldt University of Berlin was a much larger and even more vibrant than the last. The air was filled with the hum of conversation and the music from the live jazz band, creating a wonderful aura. The venue was bustling with people of all ages and nationalities, all eager to learn and discover. The hallways and corridors were adorned with engaging exhibits and colourful displays and banners, we found ourselves drawn to an exhibit on optics, with lots to interact with. We stumbled across a crowded lecture hall, where a renowned physicist was delivering an engaging presentation about symmetry. After the presentation, we were given the chance to have a conversation with a physics student, where he explained the basics of quantum mechanics to us. Leaving the Long Night of Science, we had learned so much and the whole experience had deepened our love for science and encouraged us to continue learning and discovering.

We are so grateful to have been given the opportunity to visit the Long Night of Science and explore the beautiful city of Berlin. We would like to give thanks to the Irish embassy for welcoming us into their beautiful city and preparing such an exciting and action-packed itinerary, so that not a minute of our time spent in Germany would go to waste! Most importantly, we would love to give a huge thanks to Sheila and George Porter for founding and running this wonderful programme. SciFest has been a truly unforgettable experience for the both of us. It has given us so many opportunities and positive experiences and helped to develop important life skills such as critical thinking skills, communication skills, creativity skills and so many more. To any student interested in pursuing an idea or project of their own and want to have fun along the way, we could not recommend SciFest enough!

Berlin Long Night of Science Award

The Berlin Long Night of Science takes place in June/July annually. On one night of the year, large scientific institutions hold lectures and demonstrations for the general public in order to present themselves and a general overview of their research topics. The events cover all aspects of science, from natural sciences to social sciences. The public can usually visit the institutions between around 5pm and 1am on the "Long Night of the Sciences".

Winners of the Berlin Long Night of Sciences Award at the SciFest National Final are selected, along with their teacher to attend this event. This is not a competitive event, but an experiential award. Its aim is to inspire and generate greater enthusiasm for STEM in both the attending students and teachers alike. The Berlin Long Night of Science Award is supported by the Department of Foreign Affairs. The Irish Embassy in Berlin kindly host and organise additional activities for the selected attendees each year.

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