The Earlier the Better…

D15192-0079We had great fun with Jonathan McCrea (Newstalk’s Futureproof/the Science Squad) and Professor Luke O’Neill (one of Irelands leading scientists) recently in the grounds of Trinity College Dublin for a Science Week photo-shoot..
But when we actually think about it, this photo really captures a lot of what Science Week is all about.  At the Midlands Science Festival, it is so important for us to try to inspire the youngest of minds and to allow them to see science as something fun and interesting and not something that is too difficult or complicated.

Young children are by nature very curious so the years of early childhood really are the perfect time to encourage a love of learning and especially a love for science. Always try to provide opportunities for your children to experience things in a hands-on way, increase their curiosity and see how much they will love it, as well as the time spent with you! My own love nothing more than a wander around the grounds of our local castle in their wellies or a family bike ride in Lough Boora where we happen to have a very special stargazing event this year!

Answer all of their little questions because children are constantly learning, as we should be too! Join us next week in celebrating science across the region, you never know what you might discover!

Rediscovering Waste!

rediscovery centreWe are delighted to be bringing something very different to this year’s festival in the form of recycling. The Rediscovery Centre is a social enterprise dedicated to providing community employment and training via innovative reuse enterprises which use waste and unwanted materials as a resource and raw material for new product design.

Rediscovery Centre scientists, designers, business managers and craftsmen are united in a common purpose of sustainability through resource efficiency and life cycle design.  We are really looking forward to welcoming our friends from the centre as they bring demonstrations and educational activities to the region this year, which highlight the benefits of effective resource management and encourage everyone to REDISCOVER the value of waste.

Join us for Tales of the Unexpected….

Jonathan McCreaThis unique audiovisual experience is a free event for the Midlands Science Festival but booking is essential.. See Events page for details..

We’re all going to the movies with Newstalk’s Jonathan McCrea and it’s going to be like nothing you’ve experienced before. Join Jonathan as he introduces some of the best science stories from the world of animation, radio and television. We’ll be seeing everything from astronomy to zoology in a series of movie and documentary clips which have been specially curated for the festival by this award winning broadcaster.

You’ll learn a bit more at this evening about being science media savvy and you’ll get to enjoy some amazing short movies and radio clips that will make you think about how important science is in our society. Science Movie Night was one of our biggest hits at last year’s festival so please book now for this event.

 

Taking Science out of the Lab…

Luke-ONeillWe are so excited about our Alchemist Cafes where this year we will be taking science to the theatre and even to the pub!

See Events page for details of our Alchemist cafes where you will have the opportunity to hear from Ireland’s best known scientist Prof Luke O’Neill, an amazing science communicator and also Sile Lane of Sense about Science, for an evening of discussion and debate about the hot issues in science and how they affect our lives.

Prof Luke O’Neill was a huge hit at last year’s festival and he has recently been named in the top 1% of scientists world-wide due to his ground-breaking work in immunology. Sile Lane is passionate about science and encouraging people to ask for the evidence in a world where it is often difficult to distinguish between science and pseudoscience or clever marketing. Join these two inspiring science communicators for an entertaining evening of science discovery and discussion. This evening will be chaired by award-winning broadcaster Jonathan McCrea of Newstalk’s Futureproof programme

Professor Luke O’ Neill said, ‘Science Week is all about inspiring the next generation of scientists through hands-on learning and experience. The ongoing scarceness of qualified Irish scientists certainly brings challenges so I am really keen to get involved in anything which promotes the fantastic adventure and exploration that science can be. The more young people we can encourage to choose a science-related career path, the more significant discoveries we are likely to have coming out of Ireland into the future.’

Join us on the night of Nov 11th at Athlone Institute of Technology, but remember to book your free ticket through this website!

Science Selfie Reminder….

Ploughing aThere isn’t long to go so we just wanted to remind you that if you see our virtual brand ambassador, Curious Kim  in a place near you over the next week or two, please take a selfie with her, tweet it and you could win a great prize!
You can look out for us in a town, school, shopping centre, tourist spot and many other places as we will be continuing to bring Curious Kim on tour around the Midlands and beyond!
Why not get into the spirit of the Midlands Science Festival and help us celebrate Science Week 2014…

@curiouskim1

Brightest of Minds Set to Inspire in Westmeath

D15192-0019With under a week left until the Midlands Science Festival kicks off across the region, don’t forget to book your free place at some of the many  hands-on science and technology activities that have been planned by local development organisation Atlantic Corridor. The aim is that this festival will encourage wider participation of the next generation in science and related fields.

Jackie Gorman, Midlands Science Festival Director said, ‘One key objective is to approach science in a new and inspiring way, fusing theatrical performances with expertise and content. This event provides a fantastic opportunity for people of all ages to really engage with the wonders of science and its relevance and importance to each and every one of us.’

We are looking forward to bringing a number of expert speakers into schools in Westmeath this year. These included Cpl recruitment director Judith Moffett, Fergal O’Brien who currently heads one the largest regenerative medicine research groups in Ireland and  Cork native, Síle Lane is Campaigns Manager at the UK organisation Sense About Science, Jonathan McCrea of Newstalk and Futureproof and more.

This festival really does have something for everybody and it will hopefully help people to focus on science in a more stimulating way. Don’t miss out on what promises to be a really fun-filled week for all.’

Networking at SFI Annual Science Summit…

Jackie at Summit SFIWe had the pleasure of attending the annual Science Foundation Ireland Science Summit in Athlone today where Director of the festival, Jackie Gorman, addressed a large audience of like-minded scientists and researchers at one of the summit workshops on ‘Engaging the Public with Impact’.

This year’s summit was attended by 300 members of the science and research community and focused on the theme “Illustrating Impact” including what impact means and the numerous forms of wide-ranging impact from economic impact to societal impact.

Commenting, Jackie Gorman said,

‘Since 2007, Atlantic Corridor has worked on STEM education issues as part of its strategic plan. Relationships and sustaining them are really important – no one writes a cheque or provides resources to a festival or outreach programme for no reason so you have to think of what you are doing as providing a service. Measuring impact of a STEM outreach program can be challenging. Having mechanisms to learn about each other and get together in the way we are doing today will promote the formation of collaborations that will help each programme accomplish more than they could alone.’

This summit provides an important networking platform for SFI researchers to meet with colleagues and allows them to discuss and debate national science policy, relevant issues and progress. We found this to be an excellent way of meeting lots of people from both Ireland and abroad who are involved in similar pursuits as ourselves when it comes to science education promotion and we look forward to reconnecting with some of them again soon.

 

He said, she said….

 

FionnualaLast year we took note of some of the comments made by teachers who were fortunate to host a Science Week event in the Midlands as part of the Midlands Science Festival 2013. We hope teachers (and parents!) will be just as happy this year ….

‘A key goal of Science Week is to strengthen the attractiveness of science education through the use of exciting and innovative tools and ideas. Clearly, it is much easier to ignite school children’s interest in learning about science and nature when it is carried out in a more fun and engaging way. Therefore, we were delighted to be hosting the Reptile Village Zoo and its mobile demonstration team during the Midlands Science Festival.’

‘This is a real and tangible example of how we can teach children about the wonders of the world in a simple and hands-on way. It will hopefully instill in the young students a love of learning, particularly about science and the world around them.’

‘Children have a natural tendency towards exploration and discovery and now more than ever, it is so important to encourage them to be curious about nature and the world and to educate them on the importance of science in their everyday lives.’

‘Children learn best through doing and these types of workshops encourage hands-on participation and bring science to life, showing students just how much fun it can be. It will also hopefully encourage their curiousity about science and nature even more so going forward.’

 

Not long to go now…Find out just how much the ‘Power of Science’ is all around!

Stargazing on the Bog is now fully booked!

Bord na Móna recently launched a brand new visitor’s centre at Lough Boora Discovery Park and we are really excited to announce that we will be hosting a unique event at Lough Boora during the Midlands Science Festival this year.

Nestled in the heart of Ireland, Lough Boora Discovery Park extends to over 2000 hectares and has a network of off-road walking and cycle routes within a perimeter of approximately 20 kilometres. We are really big fans of Lough Boora Discovery Park, particularly as it has so much to offer outdoor enthusiasts, nature lovers and families looking for an affordable and relaxing day out together.

On Saturday November 15th at 8pm we will be inviting people of all ages to come and join us at the Discovery Park for a unique lesson in Astronomy and this will be followed by a guided astronomy introduction (weather permitting), which will be provided outside in darkness by the Midlands Astronomy Club.

Seanie Morris of the Midlands Astronomy Club said,

‘We are delighted to be involved in this year’s Midlands Science Festival. Our hope is to change the way people think about astronomy, encourage participation from people of all ages from complete beginners to stargazing enthusiasts. We want to prove that you don’t have to be an astronomy expert to appreciate how much fun it can actually be.’

Tom Egan of Bord na Mona also commented,

‘Bord na Mona is also delighted to be hosting the ‘Stargazing on the Bog’ event this year as part of the Midlands Science Festival.  You’ll find any number of fun-packed, innovative and stimulating events happening all over the Midlands during Science Week – from family-friendly workshops and exhibitions, career advisory sessions and expert discussions to special screenings of science-related movies for film fanatics. Lough Boora host many events throughout the year but this really is something very different and we are really looking forward to seeing some stargazers out here on the night.’

Take your curiosities to a new level and don’t miss out an opportunity to discover and celebrate science this November across the Midlands. Check out www.midlandsscience.ie for all FREE events and booking details.

Letting Science Loose in Laois!

Ploughing1We are really looking forward to our line-up in Laois this year! The festival will take science out of the lab and into our libraries and primary school classrooms, giving people a variety of fun ways to explore and open up a multitude of ideas for a future career in science.

Catherine Casey, Heritage Officer with Laois County Council said, ‘Laois County Council is delighted to be associated with this year’s Midlands Science Festival. We had a little taste of what’s on offer when the ‘Junior Einsteins Science Club’ performed to packed audiences in the Laois tent at the Ploughing Championships recently. Science Week is a free, family-friendly, programme of events which allows people of all ages to discover something new, participate in a number of hands-on science and technology activities and see a whole host of live performances by science enthusiasts and communicators.’

This is the second 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 entrepreneurs and researchers, science and technology speakers, science students and the general public from all over the Midlands.

In planning the programme, we have partnered with a number of schools and other regional organisations, such as Laois County Council, Abbeyleix Heritage House and Portlaoise Library to create opportunities which excite students about science and demonstrate how it connects to real life. It’s about creating greater interest in science education and careers which of course benefits the Midlands region.

Laois event highlights include an address by zoologist Seán Kelly of Trinity College Dublin on a new species of a colourful bird which has been discovered by a group of Irish students on the Wakatobi islands south of Sulawesi in Indonesia. We are delighted to welcome Seán to Abbeyleix Heritage House on November 10th to talk about what must be a once in a lifetime experience for any biologist– the discovery of a new species. Another public talk which will be of particular interest to students and members of the public who are interested in wildlife is ‘THE SILENCE OF THE TENRECS’, which will take place in Mountmellick Public Library on November 12th.The key speaker, Sive Finlay of Trinity College Dublin is another zoologist with a broad range of research interests in evolution, ecology, comparative biology & behavioural ecology. This public talk is a unique opportunity to learn about the science of wildlife research & conservation.

We also look forward to welcoming award-winning science writer , Mary Mulvihill of ‘Ingenious Ireland’ to Laois during the festival. Mary wants everyone to know that Ireland is not just a nation of writers – we also produced some of the world’s greatest scientists and engineers, and our ideas have helped to change the world. Mary runs popular science walking tours of Dublin, writes a science columnist for The Irish Times, and you can hear her speaking in Portlaoise Library on November 12th.

These are just some of the many locally produced and pre-booked workshops taking place but to find out how to book your free place for some of the other innovative events that will be happening in Laois and the wider region you can view a detailed listing on our Events section.