Costumed drama brings science to life
7 February 2017
Life and legacy of Robert Boyle enlightens and entertains school students across Ireland.
The Institute of Physics in Ireland’s annual Tyndall lecture features a highly entertaining re-enactment of the work of Robert Boyle. The Irish-born scientist was one of the most important figures in the development of modern science making discoveries across a wide range of areas. Currently the show is touring nine venues across Ireland with thousands of students attending. The show has been developed and is performed by Eoin Gill as Robert Boyle and Sheila Donegan as Lady Ranelagh, both from the Waterford Institute of Technology.
Born in Ireland in 1627, Boyle lived and worked in Oxford and London, often working closely with his sister Lady Ranelagh. Boyle worked at a time when there were many competing approaches to investigating the world and he was most influential in establishing experiment as the key way to building science. His experiments were performed in front of gatherings of scientists and dignitaries and were famous throughout Europe. This show is recreating many of Boyle’s own experiments in fundamental areas of physics such as the weight of the air, behaviour of gases under pressure, characteristics of vacuums and other phenomena by witnessing these demonstrations in the same way as an audience did 350 years ago.
Eoin Gill and Sheila Donegan are directors of Calmast STEM Outreach Centre at Waterford Institute of Technology. They have been celebrating the legacy of Robert Boyle for many years speaking and performing about Boyle in several countries. In 2012 with partners they established the Robert Boyle Summer School which runs each June at Lismore Co. Waterford. They are active across the whole range of STEM running events attracting over 15,000 each year in the Southeast. They are also the founders of Maths Week Ireland which is the largest maths festival in the world.
The Tyndall Lectures are held throughout Ireland every January/February, use demonstrations and interactivity to enthuse schoolchildren and show how their class work relates to modern areas of physics research. It forms a significant part of the Institute’s commitment to physics education and engagement. The tour includes, Waterford, Dublin, Carlow, Cork, Limerick, Galway, Sligo, Belfast and Derry.