Something for Everyone!

Harper Quigley from Longford
Photo by Shelley Corcoran

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.

Inspiring in Offaly!

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.’

 

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

INSPIRATIONAL CAREER ADVICE FOR MULLINGAR STUDENTS

Local development company, Midlands Science, teamed up with Athlone Institute of Technology (AIT) and Intel Ireland Ltd this week to deliver an inspiring career talk to students at Loreto College in Mullingar, in advance of the annual Midlands Science Festival.

Enda Fallon from AIT spoke to students about engineering career opportunities and course options available at AIT and Bridget Molloy of Intel Ireland Ltd also addressed students and spoke about her own career in a global company as well as providing insights on other related engineering careers and opportunities for women in STEM.

Enda Fallon said,

‘AIT is delighted to join forces with Midlands Science in promoting the world of science and engineering in Ireland. It is extremely important for AIT as the key Midlands academic provider to provide the local second level student population with inspiring experiences of engineering and to showcase the diverse opportunities and career paths that engineering offers as part of the collective national aim to increase the number of young people who wish to join these professions in the future. We want our workshops and talks to help students to better under the real world of science and engineering and collaborating with Midlands Science particularly as we head into national Science Week 2018 was the perfect opportunity to do this.’

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.

Jackie Gorman, CEO of Midlands Science said,

“Ireland needs more future scientists and engineers so we really want to ensure that more young people understand what these fields are all about and how they are used and applied in so many aspects of modern living. Giving students the opportunity to talk directly to engineers and engage in hands-on activities that showcase and explain science and engineering is at the heart of what we do and we are delighted to be able to facilitate events for some local schools here in the Midlands to help inspire the next generation.’

 

 

 

Nearly there…

There are now almost 120 events online for next week – many are booked out but we are contacting those who booked to reconfirm and will post updates if there are any cancellations on Friday.

Tomorrow we will post links for events which still have some capacity. We are covering a large area in the midlands so we can’t get to everywhere each year so please bear with us as we try to spread the science around.

SNAKES AND SLIME FOR OFFALY!

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. One of the key activities we can look forward to in Offaly this year is taking place in Tullamore library on November 17th. Join Sunday Times best-selling author Dr Steve Brusatte as he explores 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.” His book will also be for sale at the event and this event will be facilitated by journalist Claire O’Brien.

Other planned activities include the award-winning ‘Anyone 4 Science’ team who will be running their popular, hands on science workshops in Edenderry Library on November 12th in addition to the Junior Einsteins Science Club who will also be back to Tullamore Library on November 12th for a day of slime, rockets, smoke cannons, making elephant toothpaste and much more. There are still some places available so check this out!

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, public spaces and 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.

The key evening public event for Offaly for this year is all about the science of golf. It takes place in the Esker Hills Golf Club in Ballinamere just outside Tullamore town on the evening of November 13th. It may surprise people to find out that golf is a game that has more interesting physics than any other. There is the aerodynamics of a golf ball in flight, the fundamentals of striking the ball, the generation of spin, and a formula for sending the ball in intentionally curved paths, such as deliberate hooks and slices.

Director of the Midlands Science Festival, Jackie Gorman said,

‘We are delighted to welcome Dr Ian Kenny of the University of Limerick [UL] to Esker Hills Golf Club to explore the science of golf during Science Week 2018. Ian is a senior lecturer in Biomechanics at the University of Limerick and is involved with an interdisciplinary research group at UL which is focussed on golf performance. His PhD research was on golf performance and he worked within the R&D team for the R&A Rules Ltd. in St. Andrews for the duration of his PhD research. This free event for Science Week is bound to be of interest to golfers of all ages and ability and we have many other fun, informative and innovative events throughout the week so do check out our events page on www.midlandsscience.ie for more details.’

This packed programme of free Science Week events is being rolled out in the counties of Laois, Offaly, Westmeath and Longford this November. 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.

Midlands Science Festival Director, Jackie Gorman continued,

‘This year’s programme really is bigger and better than ever before with so much variety for people of all ages to enjoy. We are also looking forward to our fun and engaging Rediscovery workshops in Birr library on November 15th where primary school children will have the opportunity to participate in a number of exciting activities and learn about the science of sustainability in our communities and the Reptile Zoo Village will also return to the county this year, this time to Banagher Library on November 17th for a day of getting up close to snakes, tortoises and spiders if you so desire!’

I would love to be an astronaut….

We were delighted to chat to one of our youngest science festival fans earlier this week. Ciara is a 10 year old girl who started blogging about her journey learning about science and space in April this year.  Along with her Mum, she started her website www.ciarasjourney.com to encourage other kids her age to develop an interest in science and space and to write about who she meets and what she learns along the way.
Over the past few months she has managed to squeeze in visits to Dunsink Observatory, Dublin, Armagh Planetarium, The National Space Centre, Leicester, UK and most recently a trip to San Diego and Los Angeles, California to visit both The Jet Propulsion Laboratory and San Diego Air & Space Museum.
 
Ciara, at just ten years old, you are one of the biggest local fans of Science Week that we are aware of..When did you develop such a passion for science and why?
 
I was around 7 years old when I started reading about Marie Curie and other famous women scientists and it made me want to learn more about what they did and how they achieved it.
 
Are there any particular elements of science that you find particularly exciting?
 
I have quite a big interest in Physics, as I have a great interest in space as well.  However, over the last few years I have been given opportunities to look into Chemistry and Biology as I have attended a few Anyone 4 Science camps and Scientific Sue events and really enjoyed them.
 
Do you think national Science Week is a good idea and are there other ways you think we can encourage more young people to pursue science?
 
I think National Science Week is a great idea to inspire kids to learn more about science.  It gives them a chance to try something completely different that they wouldn’t always get the chance to.  I love the idea that the local community and local schools and libraries can arrange and host these events and get their resources from the website too.
 
I think there maybe more kids would be attracted to science if there were more TV programmes like “Let’s Find Out” which is running on RTEJr at the moment as it makes learning about science interesting and fun.  Maybe having more camps like Anyone 4 Science being held locally would help to?  There are several Facebook pages of demonstrations in experiments and these are things you can watch and copy at home too.  I also think maybe if you gave the kids watching these programmes and Facebook easy challenges to complete they might do them and talk about them at school too.
 
Do you know at this stage what you would like to do after you finish school?
 
I would love to be an astronaut but I would also love to be an Astrophysicist and I think I am going to end up doing both hopefully!
 
What is your favourite science fact?
 
That would be about Black Holes.  That Black Holes are almost impossible to detect.  There is only 2 ways as far as I know to find them.  One to look to space and spot a big black empty void but that isn’t always reliable as sometimes there could be something in the way.  Two, to detect stars and planets being “eaten” by the Black Hole as they disappear.

EXCITING SCIENCE WEEK EVENTS FOR LAOIS

One of the activities visitors can look forward to in Laois this year is an insect folklore video workshop with entomologist Nessa Darcy which includes a short learning session about insects, their habitats and conservation needs. Children will get a chance to make up their own insect story, which will be recorded, and to create their own rudimentary paper insect puppets and background to act out a video to illustrate their story. This workshop is suitable for aged 8+ and takes place in Portarlington Library on November 14th at 11:00am and again at 2:00pm.

Jackie Gorman, Midlands Science Festival Director said,

‘We have a unique poetry reading by writer, Eleanor Hooker and a discussion with journalist, Claire O’Brien on poetry and how it describes the natural world as compared to science, how the arts and humanities relate to each other in Portlaoise Library on Friday, November 16th. This will be a wide-ranging and interesting dialogue about the conflicts and connections between the arts and science. We will be celebrating science in schools and campuses, in libraries and outdoors and we want as many people as people to come along and see that science is not just for academics and lab coats-it is everywhere and there for us all to enjoy. We are particularly looking forward to the ‘science of weather’ talk with well-known weather forecaster, Gerald Fleming. This will take place on the evening of November 13th in Midlands Park Hotel in Portlaoise and we look forward to welcoming people of all ages.’

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.

Jackie Gorman continued,

‘We also have some workshops from Make Port available in Portarlington this year. This includes a tour of Fab Lab and workshop sessions covering electronics, laser engraving and 3D printing. The science festival is a real celebration of science and features something for everyone to enjoy. The Rediscovery workshops will also be back in the Midlands during Science Week, this time in Mountmellick Library on Nov 16th. In a 90 minute hands-on and fun workshop with the team from The Rediscovery Centre, children will learn about a whole range of science and environmental topics. This fun and engaging workshop is being provided by the Rediscovery Centre who are focussed on the science of sustainability in our communities.

LEARN ABOUT PAIN DURING SCIENCE WEEK IN ATHLONE

How we experience and manage pain is a complex and sometimes emotional process. This free lunchtime lecture will take place during this year’s Midlands Science Festival on November 14th in Athlone Library and will explore our relationship with pain and painkillers.

This event 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 and there will be an opportunity for questions and answers.. You’ll learn something new during your lunchbreak and we encourage questions and discussion at this event.

Join Dr Gary Stack of AIT’s School of Nursing and Healthcare for a lunchtime lecture on painkillers, ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

Photography – An art and a science!

Veronica Nicholson is a photographic artist and educator, with a Masters degree in Digital Art who lives in Co. Offaly. Her book Observing Offaly, a commission from Offaly County Council, was published in 2016.

Veronica, we are thrilled to announce that you will be partaking in this year’s Midlands Science Festival.

Thanks. I’m delighted to be taking part.

We would love to find out more about your work as a photographer here in the Midlands. What inspired you to take up photography?

I didn’t really know what I wanted to do when I left school but I bought a camera in 1984 and found something I was good at and that I loved, and that also connected me with people and the world around me. Before that I think I felt quite disconnected and that was painful, whereas photography was, and still is, a complete joy.

My first job was as an apprentice to the photographer in the National Gallery of Ireland which was great fun, and I also started a part-time Diploma in Professional Photography in the Dublin Institute of Technology. I then trained in a commercial studio while finishing college. In college I was able to flex my creative muscles; in the studio I learned the profession. After college I went freelance and I also started teaching photography, as well as exhibiting my art photography in exhibitions. I’ve continued this mix ever since.

How did your book Observing Offaly come about?

I applied for and was awarded a Percent for Arts Commission from Offaly County Council in 2015 to make a book of photographs about contemporary life in Offaly. It was a dream project as I had permission to delve into all areas of peoples lives, and people were so generous inviting me into their homes and work places. I traveled all around the county with a mission to show the beauty of the boglands and the Grand Canal, and to highlight a county that is often seen as a place to drive through to get somewhere else. I also covered the news stories like the Equality Referendum and the floods, the general election of 2016, the Tullamore show, and the annual pilgrimage on Croghan Hill. I also made a point of highlighting the work of women farmers, who so often get overlooked. The result was a hardback book of nearly 150 photographs, which is for sale in all the libraries in Offaly.

How do you feel you combine art with science in your work?

It could be said that photography is both an art and a science.

The notion of a photograph dawned on one of the inventors of photography Henry Fox Talbot in 1833 while he using a camera lucida as an aid in drawing the Italian countryside near Lake Como. Dissatisfied with his inability to capture the beauty of the refracted image he saw, the artist and scientist began experimenting with chemical solutions to fix images on paper coated with silver nitrate. “How charming it would be if it were possible to cause these natural images to imprint themselves durably, and remain fixed upon the paper,” he mused. Six years later he achieved his goal.

When I’m taking a photograph, the science is a given, it’s not what I’m thinking about. Yes, every time a photograph is taken, light is bent through a piece of glass – this is optics; when the light hits the film or sensor, a chemical reaction takes place. But I’m concentrating instead of the subject, making decisions on how to frame and compose, what kind of light is falling on the subject, what combination of shutter speed and aperture to use, what ISO to set the camera etc etc. That’s the art I guess.

What can we expect from your participation in Science Week here in the Midlands this year?

I’m giving a talk called ‘Drawing with Light – the Science of Photography.’ We will look a bit at what light is and how the eye sees that portion of the electromagnetic radiation we call the visible spectrum. I will be giving a brief introduction into the invention of photography and why 1839 is the year given, even though cameras already existed, as did the knowledge that light had an effect on certain chemical substances. So what happened in 1839, the date given for the invention of photography?

We will also have some fun with everyone getting a chance to try their own ‘writing with light.’

The talks are in Stradbally library and Birr Castle. The event at Birr Castle Demense will include a visit to Mary Rosse’s nineteenth-century photographic dark room, the oldest surviving dark room in the world.