Inspiring Young Scientists….

blog_materials&bubblesWatching excited young faces at our ‘Science Bubble Show’ or seeing the enthralled reactions when a huge boa constrictor was lifted from its box…these are some of our happiest memories from last year’s Midlands Science Festival. Science helps children to answer some really tough questions but ‘Science Week’ itself enables us to make this happens in much more entertaining ways.

We are so excited about the events that are now starting to take shape for our younger audiences this year and one of our key goals is to help primary school children understand that science is all around them, every day and in all kinds of ways. Science is a part of daily life from cooking and playing sports to watching the rain or enjoying the sunshine.

We want to encourage young pupils to collect information, ask more questions, observe and draw their own conclusions because science can really teach children to form their own opinions. It allows them to experiment and realize that not everything has to work out perfectly all the time. It makes them query how the world works, sparks ideas and helps them to find solutions to everyday problems in the most simplified of ways.

The Power of Science is All Around Us!

Top Irish Scientist Confirmed for Midlands Science Festival

Luke-ONeillWe are thrilled to announce Leading Immunologist, Professor Luke O’ Neill of Trinity College Dublin as one of our keynote speakers at this year’s festival. Luke is known for his pioneering work on the molecular understanding of inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and he addressed an impressed audience for ‘An Evening of Drug Discovery’ at the festival in 2013. We are privileged to have Luke back in the Midlands again for Science Week. The full festival line-up will be announced very soon!

Luke was recently named amongst 11 researchers based in Irish universities who were ranked among the world’s top 3,000 by the multinational media body, Thompson Reuters. Inclusion means the person’s research is listed in the top 1% for the number of times their work has been cited by other scientists. I recently had a chat with Luke to hear some of his views on the image of science and various other factors in advance of this year’s event….

What first inspired you towards a career in science?
An interest in biology at school led me to study biochemistry at university. Once I started doing research and discovering new things I was then hooked as it was tremendously satisfying. I also felt I could make a difference by working in science and medical research.

What are the key factors that are going to be important to guarantee the future of Irish science in your opinion?
Continued government investment in research and in education is essential.

What do we need to do to make the image of science more appealing?
More science in the media – emphasising fun and excitement and how science can provide you with huge fulfilment.

What advice would you give to young people considering a career in science?
Come and join the adventure!

What do you enjoy the most about teaching the next generation of scientists?
There is a real satisfaction in explaining complex phenomena in ways that students can understand such that they themselves can get engaged in science.

Are there particular areas where we are particularly short of skilled graduates?
Probably in IT.

Why is ‘Science Week’ such an important annual event in Ireland?
The more science events we have the better, as it gets the message across that science is great!

A Little Taster….

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This year’s exciting programme will be launched in more detail in the coming weeks and will include a packed variety of engaging shows, exhibitions and hands-on fun demonstrations in classrooms and theatres alike! Here is some detail of the events we are planning.

Jackie Gorman, Director of the Midlands Science Festival said, ‘The festival will allow people of all ages to discover something new, participate in a large number of hands-on science and technology activities and see a whole host of live performances by science enthusiasts, experts and communicators. We hope to bring together a large number of interested participants including entrepreneurs and researchers, science students and the general public from all over the Midlands.’

Some Highlights
Starting with the younger ones, we have plenty of events planned for our mini-scientists this year. We can look forward to a visit from the Junior Einsteins Science Club to some of our local schools. This fascinating club teaches children core aspects of Biology, Chemistry & Physics through fun experiments, messy ‘make and do’, quizzes and more fun!  We are also delighted to welcome back a firm favourite, the Reptile Zoo Village, to a number of schools where pupils will have the opportunity to pet a snake or a large spider if that is their desire! In addition, Ingenious Ireland, Irish Sound, Science and Technology Association (ISSTA) and the Rediscovery Centre will all provide something new for the 2014 Midlands Science Festival.

Science Week gives young people a chance to meet and hear from experts who have the ability to share their expertise and encourage the next generation to consider a career in science. Throughout the week, we will have several presentations from key people working in different science fields and we will also host a number of science and technology career’s workshops with key local companies and academia for 2nd level students.

As well as celebrating science in schools we intend to provide some really unique and inspiring events for the general public too. This will include the return of last year’s ‘Science Movie’ night, which is a unique audiovisual experience featuring some of the best science stories from the world of animation, radio and television. And with top scientists such as Professor Luke O Neill now confirmed, we can promise a number of alchemist cafes full of lively debate and discussion during the week. This is just a taste of what we have lined up and we look forward to revealing our full programme of events very soon!

Be part of the Midlands Science Festival

[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_single_image image=”358″ border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” alignment=”left”][vcex_spacing size=”10px”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]There are many ways in which you can be part of the festival – whether you would like to host your own event at your school or business, speak or volunteer in some way at one of our keynote events, please get in touch and we can discuss your possible involvement and explore how we might be able to work together. We are focused on trying to facilitate dialogue between scientists and the public and we want to widely disseminate best practice, resources and knowledge. Perhaps you would like to share your research with the public or with schools through a talk or another hands-on activity or maybe you have something fun and exciting that would really help encourage younger people to consider a science field as part of their further studies. Through several different initiatives and by working with a range of corporate, educational and state partners we are weaving our way through a huge amount of ideas to make sure that the festival contains something for all age groups. We will be launching the proposed programme very soon, so watch this space-there are exciting times to come!

The power of science is all around us and this is the theme for Science Week. We see, hear, touch, taste and experience the wonder of science every day. From the electricity that lights and heats our homes, to smart phones that connect us to family and friends, to robots that carry out intricate surgery, and space technology that reveals the secrets of the cosmos – science empowers us to shape every aspect of our world. Thanks to the power of science we can improve our health and wellbeing, explore new worlds, and make our world a better place; the only limits are those we imagine![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Counting Down to Science Week

[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_single_image image=”362″ border_color=”grey” img_link_target=”_self” alignment=”left” img_size=”full”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vcex_spacing size=”10px”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]It may still be a few months away but we already have our thinking caps on to come up with ways to make this year’s ‘Midlands Science Festival’ even bigger and more fun and action packed than last year. There will be an exciting range of new events with a promise of something for everyone but we will also bring back some of the most popular sessions from last year with the overall aim of inspiring, educating and entertaining through science!

We are also focusing on regional activities and events which will hopefully help young people around the Midlands in particular, develop an interest in STEM subjects beyond the confines of the curriculum and increase their awareness of potential careers in those areas. Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) recently launched a new three-year plan for its Smart Futures initiative which is aimed at delivering a 10% increase in uptake of science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM) subjects at second and third level by 2016. The overall objective is to close the skills gap which still exists in sectors such as ICT, life sciences, and engineering.

We want to be part of this collective endeavour and you can help us by taking science out of the lab and into the streets, public spaces, libraries and other fun places. You can help us celebrate science![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]