What people say!

We love hearing the feedback and comments after your school or community has enjoyed one of our many science activities, talks and shows. It helps us to make improvements where necessary and we really do listen and try to tailor our events and reach as many people as we possibly can so all feedback is taken on board. If you have any comments, do get in touch.

Here is a flavour of some of the things people have told us recently..

I love that science is like a never-ending puzzle that you can continue to solve, it is a constant state of discovery and it gets more and more exciting over time.

After secondary school I would love to study for a Bachelor of Science degree in NUIG and then get a doctorate in a field of science.

I found the event today very useful as it made me justify my decision in pursuing a career in science and I got the chance to meet new people who have the same mind set as I do towards science.

You can encourage young people by giving them the opportunities to experience events like this and to nail home the fact that no matter what area of science you like that there is always a career possibility to be gotten from it.

After college I would like to either a science teacher or a forensic pathologist but after the talk today I would also be interested in being a medical detective.

Delving in to Science Capital …

Great morning exploring #sciencecapital with students at St Brendan’s Community School in #birr and CBS #Mullingar – lots of questions about everything from poisons to animal testing alternatives. #believeinscience

Science outreach – We will come to you!

2019 has been an extremely busy year so far for the Midlands Science team with lots more exciting science events, workshops and inspiring STEM career talks on the way in the next couple of months. Our goal is to reach more and more people of all ages year on year in order to ensure that the message is spreading about the important role science plays in so many aspects of our everyday lives.

Our timetable is now completely is full until the end of the year but we are are now scheduling outreach to primary & secondary schools from January to June 2020.

Our Outreach team can bring a range of dynamic shows and workshops to your school or community venue. Feel free to get in touch by emailing jgorman@midlandsscience.ie to receive an expression of interest form & more details. We look forward to working with you soon!

SCIENCE FUN FOR ST.ETCHENS WITH IRISH MANUFACTURING RESEARCH

As part of the Midlands Science festival 2018, pupils from St Etchens National school in Kinnegad visited local company, Irish Manufacturing Research, for a day of challenges and games with the objective of exciting them about the world of science and technology. Pupils had the opportunity to get hands on experience of activities such as Virtual Reality, Cobotics, 3D printing, Analytics and Electronics.
Jackie Gorman said,
For our festival in 2018 we have partnered with a number of extremely supportive organisations including Irish Manufacturing Research to create opportunities which aim to encourage students to explore science. We are most grateful for the support and enthusiasm our partners and sponsors provide to enable us to spread the science message and without their help our festival would not be possible.’
This was one of over 120 events which took place throughout the region during national Science Week which was a huge success. Midlands Science work to build public awareness of the importance of science in everyday life, provide schools with opportunities for direct interaction with real scientists and talented speakers and encourage younger audiences to partake in real science activities so that they can get a taste for how diverse it actually is.
 
Louise Kelly, Marketing Coordinator at IMR said,
Irish Manufacturing Research was delighted to join forces with local development company Midlands Science for Science Week 2018 in celebrating the world of science and technology here in the Midlands. It is very important for IMR as a company to provide the local student population with inspiring experiences of science and to do so as early as possible in their education in order to try to ignite that spark or love for science. We hope that by providing some workshops in a fun and interactive way, that we will encourage young people to become curious and want to learn and do more in a science environment. We are passionate about our role of encouraging the workforce of the future and events like the Midlands Science Festival which introduce science in an informative yet engaging way can have a really positive influence on students’ perceptions of the world and how important science is in so many ways.’

Book signing in Tullamore

Sunday Times best-selling author Dr Steve Brusatte came to Tullamore during the Midlands Science festival to talk to locals about his life in dinosaur discoveries. He is one of the world’s leading scientists of a new generation of dinosaur hunters armed with cutting edge technology and he is piecing together the complete story of how the dinosaurs ruled the earth for 150 million years.Steve’s amazing work and discoveries have featured on BBC, CNN and National Geographic and he is the author of the Sunday Times Best Seller “The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs.”

Forensic Fun and Investigation in Athlone!

International Terrorism expert, Prof Andrew Silke and Brian Gibson of Forensic Science Ireland, Jackie Gorman and Pauline Nally of Midlands Science and Craig Slattery, UCD and Midlands Science at the Science Week event, which explored forensic science, poisoning by spies and the psychology of terrorism. The event took place in Athlone Little Theatre and featured  a crime scene with clues for audience members to use to solve the crime.

Whatever the Weather!

We had another successful public event in Laois last night when people gathered to learn all about the weather and the role science plays. We were delighted to welcome well-know weather forecaster, Gerald Fleming to address the audience on this very important and fascinating subject.

Discovery and Exploration in Longford with Abbott

Aidan and Mary Harris age 8 and 6, Aeveen Rollins, age 6 from Longford, Pauline Nally, Helena Warnock
Photo by Shelley Corcoran

The annual Midlands Science Festival kicked off on Saturday with the Abbott Discovery Day which took place in St. Mel’s school in Longford as part of Science Week 2018.

The day featured fun for people of all ages with dinosaurs, tortoises, exciting experiments, a mobile planetarium and lots more! There is lots more planned for the week ahead so keep an eye on our events page for details! #scienceweek

“Don’t mow! Let it grow!”

We are thrilled to announce something very different and exciting for the Midlands Science Festival 2018 in the shape of bug-centric learning sessions! We are delighted to be welcoming Creative Entomologist, Nessa D’arcy who will explore the world of bugs with some of our very lucky younger audiences. We had a chat to Nessa to find out a little bit more about her work and interests in advance of her workshops…
 
Nessa, how would you describe the role of a Creative Entomologist?
I aim to reintroduce humans to their natural habitat through colourful encounters with insects. So far, this includes insect surveys for conservation, bug-centric workshops and outings, and art which celebrates the beauty, diversity and importance of these essential and under-appreciated ecosystem engineers. Creative Entomologist is a job title I created for myself when I couldn’t bring myself to choose between a career in conservation or my art practice, and I’ve found that great things happen for both when I combine the two!
What kinds of things will the pupils learn about during your Science Week workshops?
The children will take part in a storytelling and video making project on the theme of insect folklore and ecology. We’ll explore legends and urban myths about bees, beetles and other bugs, as well as learning about their needs, their roles in the ecosystem, and actions we can take to help them thrive. I’m excited to see the results, as the storyline and visuals for the video will be guided by the children’s own curiosity and creativity. The aim is also to create something which captures the public’s attention and conveys a call to action for insect conservation.
Can you tell us a little bit about your background and what inspired you to work with such small creatures?
I have been fascinated by all creatures great and small since I was big enough to terrorise the neighbours with a handful of slugs. As a child I would get upset if someone put a spider out of the house without showing it to me first! The macro world was (and still is) a calm place for me to escape to, a resource in times of stress. Being able to name animals and plants gave me confidence. I’ve seen nature experiences having the same effect on children when I’ve volunteered with OWLS Children’s Nature Club and when I do Heritage in Schools workshops. Throughout my MSc in Biodiversity and Conservation and my work on SEED Madagascar’s conservation programme, my earlier degree in Fine Art always had an influence, and my mum predicted years ago that I would someday combine art and science!
Are your events interactive-are there some opportunities for the mini scientists to get hands-on?
Always. I teach the kids insect-sampling techniques outdoors between spring and autumn, and will be bringing some six-legged friends into my winter workshops. My dream is to have everyone finding, identifying and recording insects in their local area. The more records we have the better we can make decisions about conserving our wildlife. It’s easy to make a real contribution. In my workshop for Midlands Science there will also be a chance to get hands on with art materials!
My mother used to always tell us, ‘insects are just some God’s special creatures!’ What would you say to help a child who is afraid of bugs?
We fear the unknown, and sometimes all it takes to overcome this fear is meeting an insect face to face and learning something about it. The same applies to meeting new people, and we need more of this in both cases! I explain that a bee or wasp that flies near you is just looking for a flower and means no harm. Even the poor vilified false widow spider will only bite if you harass it. I once had a pupil who strongly disliked insects at the start of a workshop but by the end she wanted to take a pair of mating dock beetles home with her to see them produce offspring! I think it was the story of their shiny green romance that won her over. Storytelling has great power to elicit empathy, and I think my enthusiasm and affection for bugs might be a little contagious too.
‘Nessa’s work draws people in to familiarise themselves intimately with insects.’ This statement on your website shows your passion for the bug world. Why do we as a society need to talk about this more and what can we doing to encourage the next generation to do to help?
An experienced natural beekeeper was once asked why bees are in decline, and he answered, “Because we don’t love them enough”. Loving something requires understanding it and what it needs. Most people know that bees pollinate our crops and are at risk, so they will happily grow flowers and put up bee hotels. But it’s less widely known that most other insects are disappearing too, threatening the very functioning of the environment, and flowers alone can’t save them. One of the biggest hurdles to insect conservation is our perception of ‘wild’ as ‘untidy’. Long, luscious grassland full of wildflowers, hedgerows bursting forth with flowers and fruit, and delicious dead wood are all essential habitats for insects. Dandelions are an essential early food source for pollinators, and nettles are the sole food plant of some of our most beautiful butterflies. I get a kick out of sending kids home to their parents chanting, “Don’t mow! Let it grow!”
My parents claim I didn’t learn my bug knowledge from them. This shows that even if you don’t know much about nature yourself, supporting your kids’ outdoor exploration of nature with the help of some books (and now some really helpful social media groups), is enough to encourage them to want to save the world!
Photo credit: Charline Fernandez of greennews.ie.

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.