On September 30th, the nationwide Problem-Solving Initiative, run by the ADAPT Centre and supported by Science Foundation Ireland over the last two years, culminated in an event which invited members of the public of all ages to test their minds against a variety of challenging puzzles. These were provided by different exhibitors who presented as part of ADAPT’s Problem-Solving Festival, which was a free public event held in the Examination Hall in the historical Front Square of Trinity College Dublin. The festival was sponsored by Microsoft Ireland.
Kicking off at 11am on a sunny Saturday morning, festival-goers arrived to a hall filled with exciting games, codes, and challenges. A large marquee in front square began to fill up with children eagerly awaiting two exciting workshops to start; Anyone4Science’s lesson on how to make your own ice cream without a freezer, and Go Fly Your Kite’s demonstration on how to design and build your own kite that could fly without wind. There were colourful kites flying around the college’s Front Square for the rest of the day.
Alongside these outdoor workshops, many more exhibitions were waiting to be found inside. These included Makeshop’s Car Propeller Challenge, Connect’s interactive logic game which challenged players to coordinate with teammates in a race against the clock to reduce interference in a complex mobile phone network, Little Cell Explorers’ workshop in which young children were introduced to biology and tasked with isolating DNA, and many more.
Visitors were also invited to attend free lectures as part of the festival, including one given by Professor Sabina Brennan on Brain Health, another on the ADAPT-run All-Ireland Linguistics Olympiad hosted by Dr Cara Greene and Gabrijela Hladnik, and finally a talk aimed at Making Maths Easier by Dr John McKenna of DCU for the numerous students who encounter difficulties in this subject.
Aligning with the overall objective of the Problem-Solving Initiative, ADAPT aimed to encourage the more than 2,000 people who attended the festival to hone their lateral-thinking skills. It also created enthusiasm within the Irish public for problem-solving relating to Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). The festival was made possible through funding from SFI. The ADAPT Centre looks forward to hosting more public problem-solving events in the future, including during Science Week 2017.