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Ireland enrols superheroes to take science to children

The Resistors!, a new animated series for young people which incorporates elements of the science curriculum, was recently launched on national television in Ireland by a public-private partnership.

In action-packed 30-minute episodes, four young superheroes use their scie...

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The Resistors!, a new animated series for young people which incorporates elements of the science curriculum, was recently launched on national television in Ireland by a public-private partnership.

In action-packed 30-minute episodes, four young superheroes use their scientific knowledge to defeat evil 'hackerdets', who have taken over their city, Cybernia. Each of the character's skills - Luc (light), Sonia (sound) Amber (electromagnetism) and Dig (information and communications technologies - ICT) - correspond to areas covered in the Irish primary science curriculum:

The aim of the new series is to make science more exciting for primary school children in Ireland. It is also hoped that the depiction of strong female characters will encourage young girls to consider science as a subject option.

Speaking at the launch, Minister for Education and Science, Mary Hanafin spoke of new and exciting changes that were afoot in the science curriculum at primary and post primary level in Ireland. 'Changes have been made, not only to what is taught, but also to how it is taught. The launch of The Resistors!, a new television series here today, is a further exciting and innovative way of learning about science. I would urge the children to tune in and watch. Students are continuously increasing their learning skills and testing their predictions in the real world,' she said.

The Resistors! is broadcast at peak times on a national TV station, and is available for free on the internet, along with interactive games and experiments. The programme has also been converted into formats which are compatible with PlayStation 2, Gameboy and third generation mobile phones, the aim being to get as much 'schoolyard' take-up and exposure as possible.

The animated show forms part of an educational outreach programme developed by the Centre for Telecommunications Value Chain Research (CTVR), a new €69 million national telecommunications research centre funded by Science Foundation Ireland, the Industrial Development Agency (IDA Ireland) and Bell Labs. CTVR intends to spend in excess of €500,000 over the next five years on its long-term educational outreach programme.

'The initiative is a response to the Irish Government's plans to develop a knowledge economy by 2010. This will rely upon increasing numbers of science and engineering graduates. The necessary increases at third and fourth level [graduate and postgraduate] will only occur with a steady feed-through of science and maths students from the preceding school years,' said Donal O'Mahony, Professor in Computer Science at Trinity College Dublin and CTVR Director.

'Future PhDs of 2015 are taking the Irish Junior Certificate exam this year. If we can encourage one extra student in every Junior Cert class in Ireland to take science and maths to third level we can assure the viability of the Irish hi-tech sector and the knowledge economy in the future.'

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Ireland