Successful Science Show Learning for Mountrath School

Local development company Midlands Science recently collaborated with the Community Foundation of Ireland to provide an assortment of engaging and interactive workshops for the pupils of Scoil Bhride in Mountrath. The National Reptile Zoo visited the school in June and the girls and boys had the opportunity to get up close and personal with some scaly creatures such as a snake, turtle and lizard. They also enjoyed energy and electricity workshops with ‘Anyone for Science’ and the ‘Rediscovery Centre’ and they also had a lot of fun with the teams from ‘Junior Einsteins Science Club’ and ‘Go Fly Your Kite.
Jackie Harrison, Head of Development for the Community Foundation said,
‘The Community Foundation was delighted to partner with Midlands Science in order to deliver a variety of science shows to Scoil Bhride in Mountrath over the past six months. From the Reptile Zoo Village to investigations in static electricity using a range of materials, we hope that pupils got to experience first-hand the fun and scope of science learning. The Community Foundation for Ireland works with donors to optimise their philanthropic giving and in 2016, there were over 70 donor advised funds at the Foundation which enabled us to work with over 4,000 community and voluntary organisations to create social impact in Ireland. It was wonderful to be able to provide this funding in the Co. Laois and hopefully it will inspire more young people from across the Midlands to consider science when choosing future subjects and career options.’
Mary Keegan principal at Scoil Bhride in Mountrath said,
‘We were delighted to welcome a number of wide ranging science performers to our school over the past year with thanks to Midlands Science and the generosity of a private donor who provided funds for these events through the Community Foundation.
We are very grateful to all parties who enabled this to happen as we believe that by creating a more fun and innovative approach to learning science, pupils will have a much better appreciation for how diverse, exciting and far-reaching science actually is. We look forward to more future science shows here in Mountrath and in continuing to spread the message that science is so important for the future and is all around us in so many aspects of life.’

Mergon Support Technology Learning Opportunity for Castlepollard Students

Midlands Science recently collaborated with Mergon International to provide an engaging and interactive coding workshop for the first and second year students of Castlepollard Community College.

Lucy Payne, Business Development Manager from iConnect Galway ran this ‘Coding Workshop’ for pupils at Castlepollard School, on 1 June 2017. Based on the Swift Playground app using the Apple TV, students explored how to use the Swift Playgrounds app and understand where coding is used in daily life.

Aisling Nolan, General Manager of Mergon International in Castlepollard said,
‘Mergon was delighted to partner with Midlands Science as a corporate sponsor in order to deliver this innovative event to a local school. Technology has the power to transform education and as a company, Mergon is always looking for ways to help inspire learning and encourage new ways of teaching the future generation. Swift, the powerful programming language which has been designed by created Apple, is intuitive and user friendly involving touch, motion and sound.’

Swift Playgrounds is a revolutionary app for iPad that makes learning Swift interactive and fun. It requires no coding knowledge, and is perfect for students just starting out. Using puzzles to master the basics with Swift students are equipped with a powerful programming language created by Apple that is used by the professionals to build today’s most popular apps. Students take on a series of challenges and step up to more advanced playgrounds designed by Apple and other leading developers.

Mary Coyle, principal at Castlepollard Community College said,
‘We were delighted to welcome Lucy Payne of iConnect to our school recently where students had the opportunity to enjoy a really immersive lesson in ipad technology and coding. The new Technology element of the curriculum enables students in the junior cycle of post-primary education to develop their technology knowledge and life skills and to apply these in real-world situations. We are very grateful to both Mergon and Midlands Science for this opportunity as we believe that by creating a more dynamic learning environment and giving students the tools and materials they need to succeed, their technology lessons can really be brought to life.’

Notes to Editors:
For more information on Swift and how iConnect can benefit your school or business please contact Lucy on 085 873 2331.
Media Enquiries: Victoria Marsden, Marketing Manager

iConnect is an Apple Premium Reseller and Apple Solutions Education Experts serving every type of customer, from individuals to creative freelancers to professional businesses, schools and universities.
As Apple Solutions Education Experts iConnect also serves many of the countries primary, secondary and third level institutions with the most up to date Apple Solutions for Education.
Owned by Al Mana Lifestyle Limited and part of the Al Mana Group of Companies, iConnect has stores in Henry Street, Dublin, Liffey Valley Shopping Centre, Dublin and Whitewater Shopping Centre, Newbridge. The group also acquired Stream Solutions, Cork and Screenway Limited, Galway in 2015.

New Board Member for Midlands Science

Midlands Science is pleased to announce the appointment of the Assistant Secretary General of the Irish Association of Community & Comprehensive Schools, Mr. John Irwin, to its Board of Directors.
Martin Cronin, Chairperson of Midlands Science commented,
‘John joins a voluntary Board dedicated to ensuring that the importance of science education and careers continues to be highlighted here in the Midlands. John is a very valuable addition to our Board and I look forward to working with him as we continue our efforts to connect to more students, teachers and parents. He brings a wealth of academic and corporate expertise and experience in education promotion to help Midlands Science activities and contribute to setting our vision for the future.’
John is an experienced secondary school teacher and former school principal and in his current role as Assistant Secretary General of the Irish Association of Community & Comprehensive Schools and in this role, he is responsible for the development and management of a network of large community schools across the country. He is particularly interested in the linkages between education, employment and local development and in his years as a teacher and school principal he was an early adopter and proponent of new and engaging ways to interest students in STEM issues.
John Irwin commented,
‘I am honoured to join the Board of Midlands Science and look forward to collaborating with fellow members on new concepts and ventures to provide even more opportunities, activities and resources for our students here in this region. Together, we will continue our efforts to build the next generation of local scientists and engineers in the most innovative and dynamic ways possible.’
Midlands Science has recently launched its new website which will provide details of upcoming science and technology education and promotional events taking place across the region. The website can be accessed at

New Local Board Member for Midlands Science

New Local Board Member for Midlands Science Local development company Midlands Science (formerly Atlantic Corridor) is pleased to announce that local scientist, Dr. Craig Slattery will join the board of directors later this month. An Offaly native, Craig is an experienced educator and lecturer in pharmacology and related disciplines including toxicology, regulatory affairs, and human diseases.

Martin Cronin, Chairman of Midlands Science commented, ‘Dr. Slattery brings with him extensive science outreach know-how and a broad range of science communication experience across all media platforms. I am very pleased to welcome him to our board of directors and look forward to his valuable guidance, energy and contribution as we work to implement a revised strategic direction under the new company name, Midlands Science. The creation of a new and more distinctive brand is a milestone for this company, whose extensive work in the promotion of education within science and technology fields is now well known throughout the Midlands region.’


In addition to his current role as Assistant Professor of Toxicology & Regulatory Affairs at University College Dublin, Craig works as a Science Outreach Specialist & Coach, is an Irish and European Registered Toxicologist (EUROTOX) and Vice-President of the Irish Society of Toxicology.

Dr. Slattery said,

‘‘I have been working with the Midlands Science team over the past couple of years as a speaker, science communicator and advisor and I have witnessed just how successful their work is to really encourage young people to study towards something that they have a passion for. Young people are naturally drawn to science. Children are natural experimenters. What we need to do is foster and encourage this thirst for knowledge and discovery as they decide what sort of career they would like to pursue. Midlands Science is actively engaged in a number of valuable projects to address science education promotion; an area I am most passionate about. I look forward to working with my new colleagues and with everyone who has a stake in science education development opportunities here in the Midlands and beyond.”

Kites and Chocolate at the National Ploughing Championships

Photography : Jeff Harvey


The Midlands Science Festival team is pleased to be participating at the 2016 National Ploughing Championships today in association with Offaly Local Enterprise Office in Offaly County Council.  Some familiar science festival faces will appear in the Offaly tent where families and individuals can come along and hear some fun and engaging talks such as insight in the science of chocolate with an opportunity to sample some delicious local produce from Ballyshiel Chocolate and hear more about the upcoming science festival itself.
Midlands Science Festival Director Jackie Gorman said,
‘I am very grateful to Offaly Local Enterprise office for giving us this opportunity to meet as many members of the public as possible at this year’s National Ploughing Championships where we will showcase a taste of what we do during Science Week right across the region. In planning the annual festival, we are very conscious of the need to deliver a variety of content which makes science and technology more fun and accessible. We are delighted to be providing a series of kite design workshops at the Ploughing Championships with our partners from ‘Go Fly Your Kite’ whose ethos with children is fun through learning and building confidence and artistic skills.  We are delighted that they will be also be working with us throughout this year’s Midlands Science Festival in November. Come along and learn to make a kite, taste some chocolate and find out how much fun science can be.’
The Midlands Science Festival team encourages as many people as possible to come and chat to them at the National Ploughing Championships for some free family fun and to find out what will be on the various towns and schools during Science Week itself.
Jackie Gorman continued,
 “It is very important that we interact directly with our audiences at important events like the Ploughing Championships in advance of the Midlands Science Festival. It gives us that valuable opportunity to answer questions people might have about the types of activities we run but it also gives the public a chance to have a voice in what they would like to see during a science festival and we are more than happy to take on suggestions and inputs that might make the festival even more fresh and innovative than in previous years. Partnering with local food producers like Ballyshiel Chocolate and being visible within the community is of vital importance to us.’

Public interview with Dr Mary Guinan, May 24th

mary G

In her career in public health, Dr Mary Guinan was at the forefront of the eradication of small pox. Today, smallpox is the only disease that mankind has eliminated from nature and it is a disease that killed at least 2 million people per year until its eradication. During her barrier-crossing career, Dr. Guinan met arms-seeking Afghan insurgents in Pakistan and got caught in the cross fire between religious groups in Lebanon. She treated some of the first AIDS patients and served as an expert witness in defence of a pharmacist who was denied employment for having HIV—leading to a landmark decision that still protects HIV patients from workplace

Since the emergence of HIV, almost 78 million people have been infected with the HIV virus and about 39 million people have died. Randy Shilts’s best-selling book on the AIDS epidemic, And the Band Played On, features her AIDS work.

Mary Guinan, PhD, MD, was the founding dean of the School of Community Health Sciences at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and is now professor emerita. She was the first woman to serve as the chief scientific advisor to the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She has roots in Co. Offaly and is proud to be taking part in a series of public events in schools and other venues to promote science and technology education in the midlands region, through her association with the Midlands Science Diaspora, a network that is being developed by Atlantic Corridor.

If you wish to attend a public interview wuith Dr Guinan please contact for details.


jump_logoTo coincide with a number of recent Midlands science events, a selection of local schools were fortunate to have received a visit from Dr. John Mighton, founder of the Canadian based maths programme, JUMP Math. The JUMP Math model provides teaching tools that can be used by any teacher in any classroom around the world. Based on research, case studies and the results it achieves, the model is continuously evolving and thanks to local development company Atlantic Corridor in association with the programme’s main sponsor, leading multinational telecommunications company LM Ericsson, there are now seven participating schools across the Midlands region.

JUMP Maths (Junior Undiscovered Math Prodigies), is a Canadian organization and a registered charity which champions innovative methods to stimulate enthusiasm and improve educational attainment in Mathematics. The JUMP Maths philosophy is founded on a belief that all children have the capability to perform well in Maths and its methods aim to remove common myths and psychological barriers to effective learning in this essential subject.

Deirdre Giblin, R&D Operations Manager at Ericsson commented,
“Ericsson Athlone is delighted to be involved in the Jump Maths initiative in the Midlands. We are always happy to support ways to encourage students of all ages to explore their talents and reach their full potential. We are proud of all the students that are involved in the programme and it is great to see the positive trends in the results.”

Dr. John Mighton, an author, playwright and mathematician, started a tutoring club in his apartment in 1998 after noticing that mathematics education in the school system was not unlocking the real potential of its students. He developed the first set of materials for his tutoring club and very quickly found a group of volunteers that helped build a set of materials, resources and tools that taught math in a way well-suited for the inquisitive minds of young people. Now, JUMP Math provides a set of resources to mathematics educators around the world.

CEO of Atlantic Corridor, Jackie Gorman said,
“Many students face unnecessary fears when it comes to learning Maths but the positive feedback we have had from teaching staff involved in the delivery of JUMP locally indicates that the programme is really helping to build confidence and ability.”

JUMP Math materials provide support for all ability levels, enabling teachers to build confidence amongst weaker students while still challenging those at more advanced levels, and encouraging all pupils to verbalise their thinking and problem solving skills. Studies on the effectiveness of the programme have shown major improvements in achievement levels, but also in students’ confidence and overall attitudes towards learning maths. The unique combination of careful teaching, continuous assessment and a variety of innovative approaches, enables teaching staff to raise the overall level of attainment while tailoring tutoring methods to individual student needs.

Principal of Scoil Mhuire Convent Primary School in Roscommon, Una Feeley commented,

‘The results from using JUMP Math so far have been very encouraging. A number of students have mentioned how the tools used in this programme have helped them to learn math in much less complicated way and they certainly seem to enjoy the subject more too which is so important for its success. We were so grateful to have had this recent opportunity to learn first-hand from the programme founder Dr.John Mighton himself and look forward to continuing with JUMP Math in the year ahead.’


Minister for Diaspora Affairs, Mr. Jimmy Deenihan T.D. recently launched a new Local Diaspora Toolkit or practical guide for Local Authorities and local and community groups to assist in the development of strategies for local diaspora engagement. The Toolkit seeks to develop the potential for communities and counties in Ireland to reach out to their own local diasporas. It will facilitate the building of new relationships with the global Irish to benefit local and regional development and it profiles some of the best and most successful initiatives already underway throughout the country.

Earlier this year, local development company Atlantic Corridor launched a new diaspora-based framework for the midlands and in keeping with its overall strategic aims, the focus will be placed upon trying to create a two-way diaspora dialogue and build global connections within the scientific and technology community.

Speaking about the launch of this toolkit, CEO of Atlantic Corridor, Jackie Gorman said,

‘I was delighted to see Atlantic Corridor featured as a case study in the new Local Diaspora Toolkit. We are already actively engaged in forging partnerships internationally and will be increasingly focused on leveraging the growing population of expatriates who wish to connect with local development. Our primary emphasis here will be on the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) and on the promotion of STEM skills, which can be used as an excellent economic development and marketing selling point for this region. This is a key focus for our work and we are pleased to note that plans are already afoot to bring Dr. Mary Guinan of the University of Nevada to Ireland next year promote the value of STEM education in local development.’

The ability to engage globally with scientists who have a connection to Ireland could represent significant potential for the work Atlantic Corridor is already trying to do in partnership with Science Foundation Ireland, Trinity College Dublin, NUI, Maynooth and other academic and corporate partners in the Midlands region.

Jackie Gorman continued,

‘Irish people are making vast ongoing contributions in all fields of science, technology, engineering and maths around the world and as the positive messages about Ireland’s economic recovery spreads internationally, we are working to source STEM professionals with a Midlands connection. We want to drive and foster their desire to make a difference back home and our plan is to facilitate introductions that can draw upon their experience and expertise in a more coordinated way that will benefit skills and research in the region. Our aim is to grow our network of scientists in order to be able to facilitate discussion and improve the quality and content of events that we roll out throughout the year such as the successful Midlands Science Festival and our range of programmes in schools and public events. The Midlands has a rich heritage in STEM through mathematicians such as Gerald Gardner and astronomers such as Kenneth Edgeworth, who was actually the first person to propose that Pluto wasn’t a planet. Great discoveries have come from the Midlands in the past and this past provides a firm basis from which to market and grow development in the region now and in the future, through skills and education.’

If successful, Atlantic Corridor would like to see members of this group becoming mentors to Irish students and also promoters of the achievements of Irish and Midlands scientists globally by contributing to skills, education outreach and research links in the region. If you have an interest in being involved in the development of this network, please get on touch by phoning 05793 23902 or emailing