Plans taking shape for Science Week 2019!

It may only be August but the weeks are flying past and we are nearly there with our 2019 #scienceweek programme. We cant wait to share it with you!

Dr Mindflip, Exploration Dome, Virtual Reality Gaming, Reptiles, Harry Potter, Roald Dahl, Star Wars, Turing Tumbles, Google Coding, National Museum of Ireland Outreach, Bog Bodies, Cancer Causes & Cures Myth Busting, Seven Ways To Save The Planet, Rediscovery Centre, Book Club, Science Knitting, Quiet Science (ASD appropriate), Chernobyl, Dinosaurs, Rockets, Electricity, Family Fun Day, Life Sciences Careers and much more.

Full programme will be online from October with booking links. #believeinscience

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!’

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.

 

Exploring Marine Life in Tullamore

One of the most rewarding things about Science Week is seeing the priceless looks on pupils faces when they learn something new and realise that science is all around us! #scienceweek #believeinscience

Monday Science Madness!

We are really excited about our science festival events today! First, we are off to Laois to celebrate science with the Junior Einsteins Science Club for a day of fun and engaging experiments.  This unique club incorporates core science into hands-on sessions designed to stimulate and create a love of science and nature. Pupils will get to make and do their own experiments wearing their lab coats and goggles and using real scientific equipment including a university grade Van Der Graff Generator.

We have career talks and STEM inspiration with Intel in Moate thanks to Midlands native, Bridget Molloy.

Then its over to Offaly! A key theme for this year is that of heritage and Midlands Science has teamed up with Creative Ireland to provide one Offaly school with a project which celebrates the work of a local nineteenth century pioneering scientist, microscopist and naturalist Mary Ward, who was working at a time when it was very difficult for women to be taken seriously in any field other than the domestic. We look forward to seeing how this one goes!

And there’s more!

The Exploration Dome is a mobile digital planetarium & science education service offering schools and event organisers an invaluable science resource and experience. Suitable for all age groups the planetarium ensures everyone is given the opportunity to learn all about space and science in a fantastic, fun and safe educational environment. The dome is on its way to Athlone this year. Each show starts with an introduction into Astronomy followed by a full dome film with different subjects, e.g. Earth science, Maths and Astronomy etc so it is learning but in a fun way!
Tonight, we celebrate all things canine at our special public ‘Science of Dogs’ event in Athlone Institute of Technology before gearing up for another day of busy, science fun across the Midlands again tomorrow!
#believeinscience

 

SCIENCE PROMOTION FUN WITH BORD NA MÓNA

Midlands Science is delighted to announce a new partnership with Bord na Móna for this year’s annual Midlands Science Festival. Established in 1934 as the Turf Development Board, renamed Bord na Móna in 1946, the company has committed itself over 80 years ago to delivering sustainable industry to Ireland using indigenous resources. Bord na Móna is also committed to promoting awareness and education on biodiversity in schools and in communities and to protecting and preserving our heritage and environment for future generations to enjoy.

Jackie Gorman, Director of the Midlands Science Festival said,

‘The Midlands Science Festival is all about taking science out of the lab and into places like libraries, theatres and even outdoors in order to provide diverse ways for people of all ages to explore the world around them and to learn something new. We are delighted to be partnering with Bord na Móna for this year’s Midlands Science Festival and with their support and sponsorship, we will be providing some fun and interactive events for schools this November in various Offaly locations. In keeping with a key Science Week 2017 of ‘climate change’ we are particularly excited to be inviting two lucky schools to Bord Na Mona’s largest windfarm, Mountlucas Co. Offaly, where pupils will learn first-hand about wind turbine technology, the national significance of wind energy and the workings of a local windfarm. Thanks to the generosity of partners such as Bord na Mona, we are now heading into our fifth year and our 2017 festival promises to be bigger and better than ever before.’

Exciting and interactive workshops from providers at the ‘Rediscovery Centre’ and the team at ‘Go Fly Your Kite’ will be delivered to schools and these workshops are a way of engaging young children about the diversity of science and technology and how it is such a big part of everyday life. Bord Na Mona has a number of sites in the Midlands that welcome visits from the public and particularly young people to learn more about the advances being made in the areas of renewable energy technology, power generation and ecology to name but a few.

Corporate Social Responsibility Manager at Bord na Móna, Mia McCarthy commented,

‘Bord na Móna’s strategy is focused on moving the company from being dependent on our traditional businesses. We have diversified to sustainable businesses including renewable energy. While providing employment is highly valuable, Bord na Móna provides more than just jobs. We have always perceived our role to be active and directly involved in the communities where we operate so we are delighted to be teaming up with the Midlands Science Festival this year to support events which help to promote the importance of science education to our local young people.’

Science isn’t just for one week. Science is for life!

We are really pleased to announce something new for 2017!

Barry Fitzgerald, scientist at ICMS / TU Eindhoven & writer of book ‘Secrets of Superhero Science’

Barry Fitzgerald – Research Scientist at Delft University of Technology, Speaker, Scientific Communicator and Author-will be presenting at this year’s Midlands Science Festival as part of our partner mini festival  in Co.Longford this year. I caught up with Barry to find out more…

Barry, we are delighted that you will be taking part in this year’s Midlands Science Festival. Can you tell us a little about what attendees can expect at your event?

First of all let me say that I’m really looking forward to being a part of this year’s Midlands Science Festival. When I was asked to be a part of the festival I had no hesitation in saying yes to the invite. Thank you very much for having as part of the festival.

The superhero genre has become one of the most popular in modern cinema. Each year numerous superhero films are released and 2017 is no exception. In fact just before Science Week Thor: Ragnarok and Justice League will be released. As a result superhero characters such as Thor, the Hulk, Doctor Strange, Batman, Wonder Woman and the Flash will all be the subject of media coverage around the time of the Midlands Science Festival. I’m sure that many people would love to have the superpowers of some of these characters.

During my talks at the Midlands Science Festival the audience are going to hear about some of the incredible scientific research from around the world that could lead to the superpowers of the superheroes in the future. I’ll be talking about the science behind Iron Man, Spider-Man, the Invisible Woman and many other superheroes. In addition I’ll also be talking about the ultimate superhero – Santa Claus. Every Christmas Santa travels around the world, a journey that is made possible thanks to his advanced science and technology. I hope to inspire some of the audience to think differently about science, to think differently about superpowers and to possibly pursue a career in science and engineering in the future. Who knows someone at the Midlands Science Festival could be the first person to build and wear a fully working Iron Man suit!

What is your background? Did you study science at university?

I have a degree in Applied Physics from the University of Limerick and a PhD in Computational Physics from the same university. In 2012 I moved to the Netherlands to continue my research career. I’ve worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Twente and Eindhoven University of Technology. Currently I’m working as a researcher in the 3mE faculty of the Delft University of Technology (TU Delft). My current research is focused on biomass energy, computer simulations of fluidized bed reactors, collective motion in people and birds, and the rheology of polymer systems.

What initially steered you towards a career in science?

When I was younger I was enthralled by mathematics. I remember I finished “Busy at Maths 5”, my 5th class maths book, three months before the end of the school year. It wasn’t until I went to secondary school that I became fascinated by science. Back then I didn’t have access to a resource such as the Internet. Perhaps if I had access to such an amazing resource my interest in science might have started at a younger age. During my Junior Certificate years I always remember being fascinated by physics given that it combined mathematics with a study of how matter moves through space and time. When it came to my Leaving Certificate I selected a series of numerical subjects including applied mathematics, physics, chemistry and accounting. For a time I even contemplated becoming an accountant but the attraction of physics was too great to ignore. While growing up I was also captivated by the idea of time travel from films like the Back to the Future trilogy and Star Trek 4. I read quite a few popular science books about time travel and the possibility of building a time machine. These books highlighted the importance of physics and mathematics to realizing time travel, which, I should add, is not prohibited by the laws of physics (well time travel to the future is definitely possible). My reading, my interest in mathematics and passion for physics all served to influence my decision to pursue a career in science.

Please tell us a little about your books.

I’ve written and self-published two popular science books – Secrets of Superhero Science and Secret Science of Santa Claus.

In the Secrets of Superhero Science I describe the fundamental science that you would learn at school and current scientific research that could lead to superpowers in the future. I discuss the possibility of creating the X-Men, replicating the power of invisibility possessed by the Invisible Woman and the possibility of building Spider-Man’s web-slingers. In addition I also discuss the implications of introducing superpowers to modern society.

In my second book, Secret Science of Santa Claus, I discuss the science and technology behind perhaps the greatest superhero of all time – Santa Claus. On Christmas Eve, Santa Claus delivers present to millions of children around the world. This extraordinary endeavour would be impossible without Santa’s innovative technological gadgets.  In the book I describe the science behind Santa’s flying reindeer, his cutting-edge weather prediction methods and why Santa Claus is an ultramarathon runner. I also discuss how Santa’s gift-bringing will change onwards into the 21st century. Right now I’m busy working on my next book, which I hope will be ready for the first half of 2018.

 

Why are national events like Science Week so important do you think?

The importance of national events such as Science Week cannot be understated. First and foremost Science Week is a unique platform facilitating connection and engagement on scientific matters and concepts with the general public. I first presented workshops as part of Science Week in 2015. That week was a fantastic experience as I spoke about many topics in science at a number of schools around the country. I enjoyed being part of Science Week so much that I cameback again last year to speak in schools, bookshops and libraries. In addition I opened Science Week 2016 at the University of Limerick.

Science Week is an opportunity for researchers and those working in scientific communication to inspire the next generation of scientists in addition to astounding people of all ages. Science Week is a chance for scientists to tell the public about some of the incredible scientific advancements taking place right now and how it will impact on their lives in the near future. Importantly the science is explained in an accessible language and using relevant connections to the real world. When anyone attends one of my Science Week workshops I want him or her to engage with science in a unique way and to think differently about science. The relevance of science in modern society is often forgotten and even taken for granted. Science Week promotes the importance of science for the real world and encourages the general public to engage with science on a daily basis. Science isn’t just for one week. Science is for life.

We can’t contain our excitement!

Photography : Jeff Harvey

Photography : Jeff Harvey

Kicking off in just two days time with ravens and crows, the time has nearly arrived to celebrate science across the region during this year’s Midlands Science Festival! We have reptiles, junior scientists, experiments, plants and nutrition on Monday.. How to make kites and the science behind flying them, science magic and careers advice on Tuesday and that’s just for starters!

The team here at Midlands Science Festival would like to thank everyone who has made this festival possible from sponsors and partners, to schools, local media and workshop presenters and speakers. We can not wait for the festival to begin – Its our biggest and best one yet, with over 130 events for all age groups!

See you soon for all things science!

#Science Week

 

Nearly there..

bacteria-lornaThe opportunity to find out what it feels like to have an exotic reptile hanging from your shoulders, learning about science magic and how life boats work are just some of the exciting experiences taking place across the Midlands during Science Week from November 13th-20th.

The Midlands Science Festival which is now less than 2 weeks away will give people a variety of fun ways to explore the world around them and open up a multitude of ideas and possibilities for a future career in science, technology, engineering and maths.

Midlands Science Festival Director, Jackie Gorman said,

‘The festival is shaping up to be much larger and more exciting than ever before. A key goal of Science Week is to strengthen the attractiveness of science education through the use of exciting and innovative tools and ideas so we have a whole range of activities lined up to do just this.’

Take your curiosities to a new level and don’t miss out an opportunity to discover and celebrate science this November across the Midlands.

Enjoying the Fun that is Science!

Bubbles Steve Allman and pupils from Scoil Mhuire in Tullamore Co OffalyOne of the things we look forward to the most during Science Week is seeing so many happy, young primary school faces when pupils get the opportunity to have a fun science event at their school. This one was particularly popular..the ‘Science of bubbles’ which was a terrific way to teach children some basic science principles in a fun and exciting way!

We have lots more events like this coming to the region this year and we can not wait! 🙂