PROMOTING ENGINEERING AND INSPIRING THE NEXT GENERATION IN OFFALY

Midlands Science teamed up with Bord na Móna recently to deliver a series of engaging and interactive workshops to Edenderry pupils as part of the recent national ‘Engineers Week’ celebrations.

Orla Kane from Bord na Móna said,

‘Bord na Móna was delighted to team up with local development company, Midlands Science to help inspire local school pupils and hopefully build enthusiasm in them to consider engineering as a possible future subject choice. Engineers Week is the ideal platform for us to address both students and teachers and to share our share our knowledge and experiences, whilst also making sure we that what we are saying is interesting and engaging. It’s important to demonstrate how engineers make such a difference in our world, increase understanding about the need for engineers and bring to life what engineering is all about by introducing someone working in this field within our company.’

The annual Engineers Week event is coordinated on a national basis by Engineers Ireland’s STEPS programme which is funded under Science Foundation Ireland’s Discover programme. Midlands Science together with industry and academic partners wanted to ensure that a focus was given to encouraging young people locally to take a closer look at engineering and demonstrate how far-reaching, creative and innovative engineering actually is as a sector.

Jackie Gorman, CEO of Midlands Science said,

“Ireland needs more future engineers so we really need more young people to understand what the world of engineering is all about, its impact and how widely it is used in the real world. Giving students the opportunity to talk directly to engineers and engage in fun, hands-on activities that showcase and explain engineering is at the heart of Engineers Week and we were delighted to be able to facilitate events for some local schools here in the Midlands to help inspire the next generation of engineers.’

Photos:

Oaklands community college with Laura Ryan, engineer from Bord na Mona and teacher (left) Ruth Monahan.

Engineer’s Week in Athlone!

Midlands Science collaborated with Gas Networks Ireland and the Gateway Youth Project in Athlone recently to deliver a series of engaging and interactive workshops to primary school pupils as part of the recent national ‘Engineers Week’ celebrations.

Declan Holmes of ‘Science Ireland’ has been presenting interactive science shows to over 80,000 students in 1,000 schools around the country since 2001 and his workshops in the Midlands this week featured the science behind rockets, creating waves and musical instruments followed by a discussion on the future of engineering from how we power our houses to self-driving cars.

Christina van der Kamp, Corporate Responsibility Manager at Gas Networks Ireland said,

Gas Networks Ireland is very pleased to be collaborating with Midlands Science during ‘Engineers Week’ to deliver a day of exciting and interactive workshops to over 500 pupils in Athlone. We are passionate about introducing young people to the exciting world of science and engineering from an early age and this initiative is the ideal way to do so and at the same time, it enables us to connect with the local community. We actively encourage young people to consider the whole world of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) and showing them how it impacts our lives on an everyday basis is a great place to start.’

The annual Engineers Week event is coordinated on a national basis by Engineers Ireland’s STEPS programme which is funded under Science Foundation Ireland’s Discover programme. Midlands Science together with industry and academic partners wanted to ensure that a focus was given to encouraging young people locally to take a closer look at engineering and demonstrate how far-reaching, creative and innovative engineering actually is as a sector.

 

 

Inspirational Career Talks for Mullingar Students

Athlone Institute of Technology (AIT) and Mergon International delivered an inspiring career talk at Colaiste Mhuire in Mullingar last week as part of national ‘Engineers Week’ celebrations. Senior technologist, Alan Mannion spoke to students about engineering career opportunities and course options available at AIT and Padraic McDonnell of Mergon International gave an insight into working in the engineering field, the diversity it offers and what it is like to work within this profession for a global company.

Aisling Nolan, General Manager of Mergon International said,

‘Mergon was delighted to join forces with local development company Midlands Science and Athlone Institute of Technology for Engineers Week 2018 which is a week-long festival of nationwide events celebrating the world of engineering in Ireland. It is extremely important for Mergon as an employer to provide the student population with inspiring experiences of engineering, as part of collective national quest to widen the pool of young people who will go on to join the profession in the future. We want our workshops to encourage young people to reflect, discuss and realise how they can be part of solutions needed for a vast number and diverse range of society’s challenges by becoming engineers. These workshops extend young people’s real-world understanding and it was wonderful to have this opportunity during Engineers Week ’

The annual Engineers Week event is coordinated on a national basis by Engineers Ireland’s STEPS programme which is funded under Science Foundation Ireland’s Discover programme. Midlands Science together with industry and academic partners wanted to ensure that a focus was given to encouraging young people locally to take a closer look at engineering and demonstrate how far-reaching, creative and innovative engineering actually is as a sector.

 

Dr. Attracta Foley, a Chartered Civil Engineer and Senior Civil Engineering Lecturer at AIT also provided a talk in Mullingar during Engineers Week and addressed some of the students at Loreto College.

Orla Thornton, Director of Marketing & Communications at AIT said,

‘Engineers Week is a great opportunity for AIT to collaborate with Midlands Science and our Industry partners in going out to schools within the midlands in order to showcase the best of what AIT offers in engineering. The week is a celebration of all things engineering and it is a wonderful opportunity to show young people the diverse opportunities and career paths that engineering offers and of course to encourage them to explore the world of engineering and in turn the range of programmes that the faculty of engineering and informatics offers potential students from apprenticeships, degrees right through to PhDs. As a nation we still have severe shortages in some engineering areas for example in construction related areas such as civil engineering and Quantity Surveying. Our programmes address these regional and national skills shortages and this week is a great opportunity for secondary school students to immerse themselves into the world of engineering and all that is offers across the areas of civil and construction engineering, electronics and informatics and mechanical and polymer. All of our programmes in AIT are practically applied and industry focused and the collaboration between our industry partners such as Mergon is a great opportunity to inspire a new generation of potential engineers who will shape, design, build and automate for the world of tomorrow.’

Photo: Teacher Oonagh Donoghue with Padraic McDonnell of Mergon International, Alan Mannion of AIT and Pauline Nally of Midlands Science with 5th year students for Engineers Week talk.

Promoting Engineering and Inspiring the Next Generation

Midlands Science teamed up with Athlone Institute of Technology (AIT) and Mergon International to deliver an inspiring career talk at Colaiste Mhuire in Mullingar last week as part of national ‘Engineers Week’ celebrations. Senior technologist, Alan Mannion spoke to students about engineering career opportunities and course options available at AIT and Padraic McDonnell of Mergon International gave an insight into working in the engineering field, the diversity it offers and what it is like to work within this profession for a global company.

Aisling Nolan, General Manager of Mergon International said,

‘Mergon was delighted to join forces with local development company Midlands Science and Athlone Institute of Technology for Engineers Week 2018 which is a week-long festival of nationwide events celebrating the world of engineering in Ireland. It is extremely important for Mergon as an employer to provide the student population with inspiring experiences of engineering, as part of collective national quest to widen the pool of young people who will go on to join the profession in the future. We want our workshops to encourage young people to reflect, discuss and realise how they can be part of solutions needed for a vast number and diverse range of society’s challenges by becoming engineers. These workshops extend young people’s real-world understanding and it was wonderful to have this opportunity during Engineers Week ’

The annual Engineers Week event is coordinated on a national basis by Engineers Ireland’s STEPS programme which is funded under Science Foundation Ireland’s Discover programme. Midlands Science together with industry and academic partners wanted to ensure that a focus was given to encouraging young people locally to take a closer look at engineering and demonstrate how far-reaching, creative and innovative engineering actually is as a sector.

Jackie Gorman, CEO of Midlands Science said,

“Ireland needs more future engineers so we really need more young people to understand what the world of engineering is all about, its impact and how widely it is used in the real world. Giving students the opportunity to talk directly to engineers and engage in hands-on activities that showcase and explain engineering is at the heart of Engineers Week and we were delighted to be able to facilitate events for some local schools here in the Midlands to help inspire the next generation of engineers.’

Dr. Attracta Foley, a Chartered Civil Engineer and Senior Civil Engineering Lecturer at AIT also provided a talk in Mullingar during Engineers Week and addressed some of the students at Loreto College.

Orla Thornton, Director of Marketing & Communications at AIT said,

‘Engineers Week is a great opportunity for AIT to collaborate with Midlands Science and our Industry partners in going out to schools within the midlands in order to showcase the best of what AIT offers in engineering. The week is a celebration of all things engineering and it is a wonderful opportunity to show young people the diverse opportunities and career paths that engineering offers and of course to encourage them to explore the world of engineering and in turn the range of programmes that the faculty of engineering and informatics offers potential students from apprenticeships, degrees right through to PhDs. As a nation we still have severe shortages in some engineering areas for example in construction related areas such as civil engineering and Quantity Surveying. Our programmes address these regional and national skills shortages and this week is a great opportunity for secondary school students to immerse themselves into the world of engineering and all that is offers across the areas of civil and construction engineering, electronics and informatics and mechanical and polymer. All of our programmes in AIT are practically applied and industry focused and the collaboration between our industry partners such as Mergon is a great opportunity to inspire a new generation of potential engineers who will shape, design, build and automate for the world of tomorrow.’

Bringing the Zoo to You!

Tara Cullen from National Reptile Zoo with Aaron Henderson, Shane Neary, Sadie Boardman.
Photo by Shelley Corcoran;

We have worked with the National Reptile Zoo for a number of years now in delivering outreach to Midlands schools during Science Week. Recently, we spoke to Tara Cullen who facilitated a number of workshops for us this year, to find out more about the work of the National Reptile Zoo and how it helps to teach young children about just how much science and nature is all around us..

Tara, can you tell us what you do as regards outreach?

The National Reptile Zoo’s mission statement revolves around three main areas: conservation, education and exploration. We want to inspire people and ignite an interest in the natural world, and in particular reptiles! We try to educate people about these animals, who for the most part, are vilified and portrayed as fearsome creatures in the media. Exploration and discovery are important factors in fostering stewardship for the environment and getting young people interested in nature!

Our Zoo to You is an outreach programme whereby we visit various events, schools and homes all over the country and do educational sessions by bringing some of our animals, providing informative talks and offering pupils, teachers and the public the chance to encounter these animals up close. Experiencing the animals up close fosters interest and appreciation.

What inspired you towards a job here-have you always loved animals?

I have always wanted to work with animals since a young age. I wasn’t interested in dolls to play with – all my toys were animals!

As I got older, I really wanted a career I was passionate about, and a career with animals certainly fit the bill. I think I am drawn to animals with bad reputations – some of my favourites are reptiles (of course), hyenas, vultures, sharks. I find them fascinating, and more often than not, they are misunderstood.

Do you have a science background yourself?

I have always loved science, in particular biology, I did well in secondary school.

I studied in the UK in animal management and applied sciences, so there was a lot of lab work incorporated into my course, all relevant to animal husbandry of course (nutritional analysis, faecal tests).

I then went on to work in the animal reception centre in Heathrow Airport, where I studied part time for a Diploma in Zoo Animal Management, and specialized my studies in Herpetology.

Recent data shows that Ireland continues to experience a skills shortage in the STEM sector. What do you think we can do to keep dispelling the myth that science is difficult?

Introducing people to the various branches of science and showing the diversity of scientific fields could spark an interest. Science doesn’t have to take place in a laboratory – getting people out exploring the world and all of its fascinating residents for instance!

There is a misconception that science is difficult – but once it is interesting and interactive, everyone can take part!

What is your favourite science fact?

I can’t pick one! The fact that scientists have harnessed various toxins in venoms and poisons and applied them to pharmaceuticals and various medicines. It is amazing!

Talking Science Careers

The Midlands Science Festival has hosted a large number of science career talks throughout the week with topics ranging from food and nutrition to sports science, science jobs of the future, maths and toxicology.

We would like to thank all of the academic speakers who came to the region to deliver these high value presentations to students. It is fantastic to see how science can be brought to life when someone new and inspiring comes into the classroom and tells a science story from a different perspective.

We were delighted to see hands up after every talk and lots of questions. Thanks again to all who participated and to the regional schools for hosting.
#believinscience

From Wolf To Woof, The Science of Dogs

 
Over 100 people and two dogs turned up on Monday to hear all about the science of dogs at the Midlands Science Festival event in AIT, “From Wolf To Woof, The Science of Dogs. Maude a Yorkshire Terrier and Jack, a German Shepherd were not mere canine audience members though as they joined the speakers at various parts of the evening  on stage to help illustrate points about dog health or their evolution from wolves. Jack, the German Shepherd was most helpful in raising his paw to help Maeve O’Reilly of AIT answer a young audience member’s question –do dogs have knuckles ? It turns out that they do ! They are just not labelled as such though. A dog’s feet have digital bones (phalanges) which basically form knuckles when clenched. Maude provided great entertainment with her perfectly timed yapping contributions which joined in with audience applause during the night, a small dog with a big personality.
 
The event was facilitated by science communicator Dr Craig Slattery and the discussions covered everything from the evolution of dogs from wolves to how to keep their teeth in good condition. There were many young members of the audience and they had lots of questions and prizes of dog jumpers and doggie treats were awarded to those who asked the best questions and who tweeted the best photo of themselves and their dogs.
 
Jackie Gorman of Midlands Science commented “we are thrilled to have hosted such a successful event in AIT and to have learnt so much about dog evolution and dog care from both Maeve O’Reilly and Kay Nolan.It was wonderful to see so many young people in the audience. Dogs have a universal appeal to people throughout history. Bones of ancient domestic wolf-dogs have been found in central Europe, the Near East and North America, where they appear to have been deliberately buried with their human companions. For example, the 14,000-year-old remains of a puppy and an elderly person were found buried together in Israel, the person’s left hand was apparently positioned so that it rested on the dog’s flank, which shows that the relationship between man and dog is one of the oldest and most durable of friendships. This event as part of Science Week in the midlands was the perfect opportunity to explore the science behind one of our most loyal companions and a prime example of the wonder of the evolutionary process.”

‘Under the Microscope’ in Laois!

We were delighted to provide microscope kits to Timahoe NS in Laois this year as part of our Midlands Science Festival activities. This is a result of a partnership with the Microscopy Society of Ireland.

The microscopy kit contains 8 microscopes, a digital camera, and all educational materials (worksheets, teacher notes) needed for 6 pre-designed activities. The kit is essentially a lab in a box and provides a platform from which to explore biological and materials science through engaging team-based educational activities. It fosters inherent interest in, and love of, science and the scientific method, and exploration of unknown worlds.

Jackie Gorman, CEO of Midlands Science said,

‘We were delighted to provide the Royal Microscopical Society’s (RMS) Microscope Activity Kits to Timahoe NS as part of the Midlands Science Festival and we hope that the students have found it to be a fun, science learning experience.’

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At Google we are passionate about STEM

The Midlands Science Festival is proud to name Google as a new supporting partner for 2017. We had a chat with Google’s Claire Conneely, Computer Science Education Outreach team (EMEA) to hear a little about the company’s STEM outreach and why its so important for them to support events like Science Week and the Midlands Science Festival.

Claire, we are delighted that you will be supporting this year’s Midlands Science Festival and are proud to name Google as a partner. Can you tell us a bit about the type of STEM outreach that Google does in Ireland?
At Google we are passionate about STEM, in particular Computer Science (CS). I am part of the CS Education team at Google – we are a global team who help millions of students and educators across the world develop technical skills for the future. More than 65% of students will work in jobs that don’t even exist today (http://reports.weforum.org/future-of-jobs-2016).

At Google, want to help prepare them for that future by getting them excited about where CS can take them. Coding allows students to learn with​ technology (not from​ it, as is all-too-often the case) and to be active creators of their own content, not passive consumers. Many transferrable skills can be learned through studying CS, such as Computational Thinking, logic, problem solving – skills that we use at Google every day!

Do you have a science or technology background yourself?
Not exactly… music was my first passion! I originally studied to become a secondary school music teacher, which I did for a number of years and absolutely loved. In those early years of teaching, I
became fascinated by technology and its role in helping students learn, so I decided to return to college to do a Masters in Technology and Learning. From there, I got the opportunity to join a small team in Trinity College Dublin to co-found and develop a new STEM outreach programme, which eventually became Bridge21. I’m very proud that today it’s one of the university’s flagship outreach programmes. Three years ago I had the chance to apply for this job at Google and I’ve been here ever since!

Recent data shows that Ireland continues to experience a skills shortage in the STEM sector. Why is it important for companies like Google to support events like the Midlands Science Festival and what do you think we can do to keep dispelling the myth that science is difficult?
We are delighted to be able to sponsor important events like the Midlands Science festival. The best way to dispel the myths about STEM is to expose students from an early age. It is also about lighting a spark and then keeping that spark alive throughout primary and second-level schooling, for those who have
the interest and aptitude. Some 98% of our engineers at Google had some level of exposure to CS before college. I am thrilled to see the introduction of Computational Thinking to the Primary School Maths curriculum, and the new Leaving Certificate Computer Science subject. Great opportunities lie ahead for our young people in years to come!

Are there are any specific challenges in attracting women into science and technology related fields and do you have any suggestions on how this could be addressed?

So many girls start out with a love of science and technology, but lose it somewhere along the way. Google believes that a diverse workforce leads to better products for diverse users and we are especially committed to reversing the negative trends around women in technology-related fields, in particular CS.

To guide our outreach and investments in this space, we conducted a study in 2014 to identify and understand the factors that influence young women’s decisions to pursue degrees in CS. It identified
encouragement and exposure as the leading factors influencing this critical choice and learned that anyone can help increase female participation in CS, regardless of their technical abilities or background. The most encouraging outcome of the study was that these factors have practical solutions, that anyone can undertake, requiring little more than time and interest. There’s enormous potential for positive change in this space!

What is your favourite science fact?
Your heartbeat mimics the beat of the music you’re listening to.