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.
Tuesday of Science Week across the Midlands got off to a flying start with a taste of Space Science, some Google Workshops focusing on computer science and some Dangerous Equations With Marty Jopson. Later in the day we will have The Science Of A Grand Soft Day With Ireland’s Favourite Weatherman Gerald Fleming, What Happens Next With David Featonby, Pollinators, Music & Plants, The Science Of Golf and much more! Another action packed day of science innovation, learning and fun right across the region.
There was plenty of exciting science fun in Offaly today when the Junior Einsteins Science Club came to town for a series of engaging, experimental workshops which were professionally delivered in Tullamore library. Science and technology events also took place in Edenderry with the award-winning team from ‘Anyone 4 Science’ and another workshop called ‘Inventing The Impossible’ took place in Birr with artist Paul Timoney in character as Leonardo da Vinci and his colleague Mona Lisa. These workshops explore how Leonardo da Vinci used drawing as a means of exploring and developing ideas and allows participants to meet Leonardo and Mona Lisa who will show them some pages from Leonardo’s notebooks and explain his process, emphasising the relationship between focused observation and free imagination.
John O’ Donovan, Plant Manager at Integra LifeSciences Ireland Ltd commented,
‘Integra is delighted to once again be involved in the annual Midlands Science Festival and it is wonderful to see so many people of all ages coming out this week to partake in numerous science and technology events across the region. It is very important to us as a company to continue to play an important role in creating awareness around science education and indeed science based careers and also in promoting the message that science is so important in our day to day lives. By working with Midlands Science in providing informative career talks to second level students or sponsoring interactive, hands-on workshops for younger pupils, we hope that Integra can contribute towards the overall objective of inspiring more and more young people to consider science when it comes to future subject and career choices.’
The Midlands Science Festival will be taking place across the region for people of all ages from November 11th – 18th and promises a full programme of innovative and fun hands-on events. Some of the activities we can look forward to in Westmeath this year include The Exploration Dome; Ireland’s most advanced digital mobile planetarium. The Exploration Dome uses state of 3-D digital projection technology, stunning graphics and computer simulations to explain a wide variety of science subjects such as astronomy and there’s also an under the sea experience. This immersive and exciting experience will be coming to the Gateway Youth Project in Athlone, is suitable for all age groups and each session lasts 30 minutes.
Science Week, which is managed by ‘SFI Discover’ the education and public engagement programme of Science Foundation Ireland, will take science out of the lab and into libraries, theatres, sports clubs and primary school halls, giving people a variety of fun ways to explore and open up a multitude of ideas for a potential future career in science, technology, engineering and maths.
This is the sixth year that a dedicated programme of free Science Week events is being rolled out in the counties of Laois, Offaly, Westmeath and Longford. It will bring together a large number of interested participants including science communicators, performers and researchers, science and technology speakers, science and TY students, mini scientists and the general public from all over the Midlands and beyond.
‘Inventing The Impossible’ is one workshop which is coming to Abbey Road Studios in Athlone and will feature artist Paul Timoney in character as Leonardo da Vinci with his colleague Mona Lisa. This workshop allows participants to meet Leonardo and Mona Lisa who will show them some pages from Leonardo’s notebooks and explain his process, emphasising the relationship between focused observation and free imagination.
Midlands Science Festival Director, Jackie Gorman said,
‘We are delighted to be heading into our sixth year with the festival and in planning the year’s programme, we have secured some really new and different events and activities as well as bringing back some of the most popular ones from previous years. As always we have partnered with a number of organisations and academia including Athlone Institute of Technology and all Midlands libraries to create opportunities which aim to excite students about science. We will also have high-value science career talks, the return of Mary Ward’s Amazing World of Wonder” which celebrates Ireland scientific heritage and a lunchtime lecture at Athlone Library on painkillers. This is part of a series of bite-sized science talks, where those attending can pop in on their lunch break for some science, free tea and coffee and snacks. You’ll learn something new during your lunch break and we encourage questions and discussion at this event.’
The festival is a real celebration of science and features something for everyone to enjoy. There is plenty planned including “What Happens Next?” by David Featonby who has a particular interest in making science teaching interesting, relevant and fun. This interactive lecture which takes place in Castlepollard Library during Science Week, is suitable for secondary school classes and will feature a series of simple experiments which often have quite unexpected outcomes. Subjects covered include forces, light and reflections, heat transfer and electricity.
Friday, November 16th brings an all about the science of murder, poisonings and terrorism to the Little Theatre in Athlone. Dr Craig Slattery is a toxicologist and science communicator and he will explain the science of poisons. He will be joined by Brian Gibson of Forsenic Science Ireland, who will explore the world of forensics and how it helps solve crimes including murders. Completing this trio is Professor Andrew Silke, who is originally from Athlone and is now based in the UK. He has a background in forensic psychology and criminology. Due to the issues which will be discussed at this event, this event is over 16’s only. A crime scene will be live from 7.30pm with prizes for those who solve the crime using their smart-phone !
Jackie Gorman continued,
‘We have such a wide array of events this year for Westmeath. Another one that we are really excited about is our Dinosaur event with Dale Treadwell of Naturally Wild who is well known for his RTEjr Television slots with Albie the Why Guy and Dustin the Turkey featuring wildlife to be found in Irish back gardens. Dale will be joined by some realistic Cretaceous Creatures on this interactive show and looks forward to meeting as many Dinosaur fans as possible this Science Week in Athlone.’
Photo: Ethan from Athlone meeting one of Dale’s larger Dino friends!
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.’
We are most grateful and really excited to be working with local company and world leader in medical technology Integra LifeSciences, to provide a number of Science Week events in the region this year. We spoke to Maria Rogers of Integra this week in advance of the rocket building and marin life workshops that the company will be sponsoring..
Maria, we are delighted that you will be supporting this year’s Midlands Science Festival. Can you tell us a bit about your company and what you do?
In Integra Tullamore we manufacture some amazing products related to neurosurgery and neuro critical care. The Integra Tullamore team manufacture equipment used by Neuro Surgeons throughout the world (including Ireland) to remove Brain Tumors. We have over 100 people working on the site including engineers across a range of disciplines including Electronic, Electrical, Mechanical, Software, Project, Quality and Regulatory Affairs.
Integra LifeSciences is a world leader in medical technology with 19 manufacturing plants worldwide. The company is dedicated to limiting uncertainty for surgeons, so they can concentrate on providing the best patient care. As well as Neurosurgery, Integra offers innovative solutions in orthopedic extremity surgery and reconstructive and general surgery.
Do you have a science background yourself?
I have developed my in the Quality Assurance field and have learned to manage many technical aspects of the Medical Devices business to advance in my career. Physics and Maths were among my favourite subjects in secondary school and that has helped me to apply those inherent talents in developing in my career. I started to study science in University, but in hindsight, lacked the belief in myself to stay on that education path and opted for a more “traditional” female career path. I have no regrets personally, but I now have a passion for instilling belief in young people, particularly young females, that they shouldn’t allow any perceptions they may have to limit utilising their talents and following their passions.
Recent data shows that Ireland continues to experience a skills shortage in the STEM sector. Why is it important for companies like Integra 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?
Industry needs diversity and alternative thinkers in order to continue to develop new concepts and products. In Ireland we need to maintain our reputation as a high skills destination in order to remain an attractive destination for global industry and research funds. Some major innovations have come from Irish research projects in recent years that will keep Ireland to the fore in the skills market.: Student Lauren Murphy invented a therapeutic device for sufferers of multiple sclerosis, CRANN nanoscience institute announced a major development of a clean energy source and offers a potential alternative to fossil fuels.
We need to nurture and develop the scientific brains of our future generation in a fun and meaningful way and Midlands Science Festival schools program is an effective way to do this.
Are there are any specific challenges in attracting women into science related fields and do you have any suggestions on how this could be addressed?
I think there is a cultural perception that many science related fields, particularly the Engineering related fields, are male-dominated fields and as a society we do not encourage women enough to consider career paths within these fields. The points system for third level entry is also another factor in driving subject choices where STEM subjects are often avoided.
Parents and schools need to provide better information to females regarding career opportunities based around the STEM subjects. Industry also needs to become involved with schools at primary level where early stereotyping can be avoided. This is one of the main reasons why Integra LifeSciences has become involved with Midlands Science Week.
As a parent of two young daughters, I encourage them to explore all career options especially those that are STEM related.
What is your favorite science fact?
The human brain takes in over 11 million bits of information every second but only recognizes 40
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