Y GwyddonLe returns with a BANG!
Since 2010 Swansea University has been sponsoring the GwyddonLe science pavilion at the Urdd Eisteddfod and once again this year, an extremely busy and successful week was had in Carmarthenshire. The University's staff and scientists welcomed thousands of children and young people to the GwyddonLe, capturing their imaginations with a host of fantastic scientific activities.
The theme of this year’s GwyddonLe was ‘Cynefin’, Habitat, and the interactive activities and scientific experiments reflected this theme in a variety of ways. With the University's Virtual Reality team, you could fly like a bee collecting pollen from flowers, while Technocamps simulated ecosystems by coding robots. The School of Medicine had a teddy bear’s hospital, and a special doll to teach the public how to give CPR, as well as sessions showing how to use a defibrillator.
The Royal College of Pathologists had a stand to celebrate the NHS's 75th anniversary and give the public the opportunity to vote on the most important changes in the history of medicine between the 1940s and 2020s.
Other popular attractions at the GwyddonLe were the ESports Wales stand with its driving games, and the Energy Safety Research Institute's (ESRI) hydrogen bike where children and young people learned how to create clean renewable energy. There was also a focus on climate change with staff from the Geography and Biosciences department collaborating with the OPTIC team to create panels of pictures following conversations with the public about climate change in five specific areas across South West Wales. A special activity was held with Dr Geraldine Lublin from the University's School of Culture and Communication focusing on Climate Education by integrating three of the new areas of learning and experience with the presenter and artist Siôn Tomos Owen on hand to create a unique mural which included all the ideas and suggestions of children and young people on the subject.
The GwyddonLe was packed for all the stage shows, from chemical experiments with Mad Science to learning about the weather with presenters Megan Williams and Tanwen Cray from the BBC weather team. One of the highlights of the stage was a special quiz based on the book Ti a Dy Gorff which is the Welsh adaptation by Rily Publications of Adam Kay's book, Kay's Anatomy. The book was adapted by one of Swansea University's former students, Eiry Miles, who came to host the quiz and test the audience's knowledge of the body with Dr Llinos Roberts, a GP and member of staff at the University's School of Medicine. The four young boys in the winning team each received a copy of the book as a prize.
On Friday, the Morgan Institute Challenge, a public debate competition, sponsored by the Morgan Institute of Advanced Studies was held, with pupils from Ysgol Gyfun Gwent Is Coed and Ysgol Gyfun Ystalyfera Bro Dur going head-to-head. The judges of this year's competition were Cefin Campbell MS, and Dr Angharad Closs Stephens, from the University's School of Biosciences, Geography and Physics with the competitors presenting arguments for and against the statement "The concept of habitat cannot recognise the history of racism and diversity in Wales".
Thomas Howells from Ysgol Gwent Is Coed opened the competition presenting his argument in favour of the subject and Mea Verallo from Ysgol Gyfun Ystalyfera responded to his points arguing against. Then, it was the turn of Mali Jones, Gwent Is Coed, to convince the audience of her point of view against the statement and Efa Jones from Ystalyfera responded arguing in favour. Even though the subject was quite challenging, the four pupils spoke excellently and presented their views clearly and skilfully and dealt with the judges' questions in a mature and intelligent way. It was quite a task for the two judges to decide between the four, but Efa Jones was awarded Best Speaker in Favour, and Mali Jones as the Best Speaker Against. Both have won £250 each for their schools. The Best Speaker overall and therefore the winner of the 2023 Morgan Foundation Challenge trophy was Mali Jones. Mali also wins work experience of her choice organised by Swansea University as part of her prize.
For the second year in a row, it was nice to see members of Aelwyd yr Elyrch, the Students' Union, competing in the Under 25 Group Recitation competition. It was also wonderful to have Cara Medi Walters, a second year BA Welsh student, working as an intern with the Academi Hywel Teifi staff at the GwyddonLe.
Once again this year we have seen a great response to the GwyddonLe and we welcomed several politicians to see our work, including the Minister for Education and the Welsh Language, Jeremy Miles MS, the Minister for Health, Eluned Morgan MS and Sioned Williams MS. It was also a pleasure to welcome the University's Vice-Chancellor, Professor Paul Boyle, the University's Registrar and Chief Operating Officer, Niamh Lamond, the University's Deputy Chancellor, Sir Roderick Evans, Head of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Professor Elwen Evans KC, and Professor Sian Rees, Head of the School of Culture and Communication, to GwyddonLe and thank them for their support.
Mali Thomas, Director of Communications and International Relations responded to the partnership and this year's offering:
"The financial support and support from a number of Swansea University staff and departments has once again meant that the GwyddonLe at the Urdd Eisteddfod continues to be one of the most popular attractions during the week.
This is a partnership that is very important to us as an organisation, and we will continue to work closely together to ensure exciting and imaginative activities and exhibits for children and young people who visit the Eisteddfod."