Healthy Eating – myths, science and experiments

Date & Time: Wednesday November 15th

Location: Tullamore College, Tullamore, Co. Offaly

Event: Nutrition and health workshop and citizen science project.

Workshop with UCD’s Food For Health Institute exploring the various nutrition myths that we encounter and also the science behind healthy eating. This will also include a Citizen Science project with students exploring sweetness and taste.

Women In Technology

Date & Time: Monday November 13th at 10am.

Location: Moate Community School, Moate, Co. Westmeath

Event: Women in Technology

Intel careers workshop with Bridget Molloy – an opportunity to explore careers in STEM with a particular focus on technology and women in technology.


Poisons & Potions – Exploring Toxicology

Date & Time: Friday November 17th.

Location: Tullamore College, Tullamore, Co. Offaly.

Event: Exploring Toxicology

Exploring toxicology study and careers with science communica tor Dr Craig Slattery. Toxicology is the study of poisons, drawing heavily on life and physical sciences, as well as being an applied practically-based subject. It’s not everything you might expect, many foods contain poisons and toxins. Bitter almonds, for example, contain traces of cyanide – the lethal dose for an adult is about 50 almonds, whereas a child would only need to consume 5-10 almonds. Fortunately, bitter almonds are heat-treated, removing the poisonous compounds and making them safe for consumption. Cherry pits, certain mushrooms, pota toes and rhubarb also contain toxins that could prove fatal if consumed in large amounts. This event is now fully booked.

Exploring Maths

Date & Time: Wednesday November 15th, 11am.

Location: Sacred Heart School, Tullamore, Co. Offaly.

Event: Maths Study and careers discussion and workshop.

A engaging discussion with maths Professor Ciarán Mac an Bhaird of NUI Maynooth. This event is now fully booked.

Careers Workshop

Date & Time: Tuesday November 14th
Location: Our Lady’s Bower, Athlone, Co. Westmeath.

Event: Careers Workshop

Careers workshop with Cpl and AIt exploring various study options and career choices in science, technology, engineering and maths. This event is now fully booked.

There are no facts that are not scientific!

As we continue to prepare for the fast-approaching Science Week 2017, we are delighted to be working with some key people in our local third level institute, Athlone Institute of Technology to ensure we deliver a fun, fact-filled week of science celebration. Recently, we caught up Chris McCormack from AIT’s Faculty of Science and Health to find out what’s happening in the college during this year’s Science Week..

Chris, we are delighted to be partnering with AIT for this year’s Midlands Science Festival. Can you give us a flavour of some of the events you are hosting at the college this year?

We have a dolly-mixture of events, hopefully everyone is catered for. We have talks and shows ranging from bogland biodiversity to the science of relationships. We have a talk about why dogs “woof” and another about home-made probiotic foods. We have invited professional experts and life-long enthusiasts to share their valuable knowledge and they are being very generous. For example, one of our speakers is an expert in the little Irish Black Bee, a protected species. He has nurtured these bees all of his life and his enthusiasm is extremely contagious! Every year we host a wonderfully whacky science roadshow for National School children, and we have a morning dedicated to healing herbs and bees for young children; we’ve called this “Have scents and bee happy”. Transition Year students also have activities. The various afternoon and evening talks are open to students and members of the public. A full menu of our activities is available through the Midland Science website, and at

Can you tell us about your own role in AIT and a little about your background?

I worked in industry and as a consultant for years before working at AIT. I am part of the Faculty of Science and Health. My core areas are Occupational Health and Environmental Protection. I am also qualified in Research Practice – I’m curious about how humans are curious, and communicate their findings to other curious people. I also teach “Learning and Development for Higher Education” and “Enquiry Based Learning”, innovative modules that open up new ways of learning to the student while developing their confidence in Science communications. I have morphed a few times during my life, and intend on morphing again!

Along with my colleague, Dr Brian Murphy, we organise Science Week at AIT.

What do you think we can be doing to inspire and encourage more young people to choose science as a subject and indeed as a third level college choice?

I believe we should be encouraging young people to be “renaissance” men and women, developing both their creative and logical or problem solving abilities side-by-side. The human mind can do multi-disciplinary thinking, it is not limited or compartmentalised. Science doesn’t live alone; it is part of every component of life. Science belongs to the curious small child in all of us. I am an advocate of STEAM, which brings about innovative thinking. Science has been pigeon-holed for too long. I’d like young learners to be curious, to consider their discoveries every day. Choosing science helps us to be comfortable in our world, to be hopeful of the future and to give us information about our past.

Why do you think events like the Midlands Science Festival are so important?

This festival takes Science out of the classroom and on to the street. It allows access to people who wouldn’t get a close-up of these fascinating things in their day- to-day lives. It is a colourful and creative presentation of Science. Valuable activities are free of charge for all the family. Our resources are pooled for this festival; the conventional edges of ownership are blurred. I think it’s a breath of fresh air for Science, a playful offering of so many otherwise hidden strengths.

What is your favourite science fact?

Oh dear, just one? I’m like Michelangelo in one thing: “Ancora Imparo” – I am still learning! There are no facts that are not scientific! Last week, I learned that the plural of “oc topus” is “oc topodidae” – apparently, the word comes from the Greek, not the Latin! My colleague’s 15 year old daughter knew this. This word makes me laugh and I might just need it for Scrabble! I have also recently learned how the tangible brain creates the intangible mind; in the Wernike area we integrate information in to image patterns, then the Broca area converts these images in to concepts. Magical! It sounds quite nerdy, but like our toes, we all have them! I’m going to look after my Wernike and Broca areas as they make me very happy.

I could give you new favourite facts, forever. The world is a thrilling place and I’m happy to be greedy about it.

Back To The Future With Science

Date & Time: Thursday November 16th, 1pm to 4pm

Location: Engineering Building, AIT, Dublin Road, Athlone, Co. Westmeath.

Roads? Where we’re going, we don’t need roads 

Grab your Nikes, calcula tor watch and hover board because we’re going Back To The Future !!

Come along and see for yourself in all its stainless steel glory an original Delorean mo torcar, which was manufactured in Belfast and made famous by Marty McFly and Dr. Emmett Brown !!

This iconic mo tor car was originally manufactured by the Delorean Mo tor Company in Northern Ireland in the early-1980s. The company announced that production would resume this year in the United States, but the particular mo torcar that will be on display was produced in Dunmurry, Belfast in 1982.

Take a pho to, learn about the science of the movie and pick up some#scienceweek merchandise

Pets, Intimacy and Relationships for Science Week!

We are happy to share that his year’s programme includes two very different events which will be held in Athlone and will be open to the general public. On the evening of Nov 13th at 8:00pm, ‘The Science of Dogs, From Wolf to Woof’ will take place in Athlone Institute of Technology. This event will appeal not only to pet owners but also to anyone with an interest in animals or science in general. There’s a lot of science to the dogs in our lives, everything from how to care for them to how they think and how they evolved from wolves.

Join us for a fascinating evening with a Veterinary Scientist and an Evolutionary Biologist as they explore the world of canines. What’s it like to be able to smell not just every bit of open food in the house but also to smell sadness in humans? Learn about the secrets of their tails and their skill at reading our attention. We will also be joined by some four-legged friends along with their owners, as we seek to understand an animal that there is still so much to know about.

Fun-filled school workshops including a mobile planetarium, snakes and tor toises from the Reptile Zoo, career talks and rocket building are just some of the many events taking place across Westmeath this November as part of national Science Week for younger audiences.

We also have neuroscientist and author Giovanni Frazzet to who will deliver a free and most unique science festival event all around the ‘Science of Relationships’ and this will also be held in AIT on the evening of November 16th and booking is essential. Giovanni Frazzet to grew up on the southeast coast of Sicily and studied science at University College London. In 2002, he received a Ph.D. from the European Molecular Biology Labora tory in Heidelberg. He was one of the founders of the European Neuroscience & Society Network and the crea tor of the transdisciplinary Neuroschools. Giovanni has also written short s tories and plays and curated science-inspired art exhibitions. We look forward to hearing from Giovanni all about the neuroscience behind the way people relate to each other and this event promises to be one which will hopefully appeal to many different people.









Nothing Beats Practical Experience!

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 Midlands schools this November. We caught up with Laura Ryan from the Powergen Development part of the company to find out more about Bord na Móna’s work with schools and in the community.

Laura, we are very proud to be partnering with Bord na Mona this year to promote science education across the Midlands. We know that the company has a strong commitment to local schools. Can you tell us about some of the work that you do to encourage young people to pursue a career in science or technology related areas?

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.

I think that nothing beats first-hand experience. Guided tours are available year-round at Bord Na Mona’s largest windfarm, Mountlucas Co. Offaly, providing information on the his tory of the project which was completed in 2014 and the operation of the windfarm to date. Admission is free, open to the public and is proving particularly popular with schools where we have seen a real interest displayed by the students in the workings of the windfarm. The visi tor’s centre has also recently installed an interactive Learning Hub which allows young people to learn more about the wind turbine technology and the national significance of wind energy.

Edenderry power station also provides tours for schools where skilled technicians are on-hand to provide a background on the power plant his tory and operation. The power station is the single biggest consumer of carbon neutral biomass in the country and the tour provides an invaluable learning experience for young people.

Ireland has to completely transform the way that we generate and consume energy for the future. 10% of the country’s renewable electricity needs are generated by Bord na Móna at its power stations and wind farms..Can you tell us about Mountlucas and the role it has to play?

Ireland has one of the best wind resources in Europe and this resource is essential in meeting our 2020 renewable energy target of 16%. Wind energy currently supplies 85% of all renewable electricity generation. The benefits of wind energy to Ireland are significant: major reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in the power sec tor, better energy security for the island and supporting the local economy with job creation.

Mountlucas, one of the largest windfarms in Ireland at 84MW power output, consists of 28 wind turbines which provide enough renewable electricity to power 45,000 homes per year. 125,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide are offset annually due to the windfarm displacing electricity from gas- or coal-fired electricity plants. Developing more windfarms similar to Mountlucas is critical to the future of renewable electricity generation in Ireland.

One of the ways Bord na Mona as a company maintains a close connection to people is by opening up our land to the community. Bord na Móna’s ecology team have been working on local lands to help res tore and rehabilitate former working bogs wherever possible. Can you tell us about some of the interests and activities available to people in the Midlands?

Bord Na Mona, through its Biodiversity Action Plan, has made a formal commitment to rehabilitating its cutaway peatlands. Lough Boora discovery park, located near Tullamore Co. Offaly, is an excellent example of a realisation of this work. The bog has been re-vegetated, in some areas rewetted and now boasts an impressive outdoor sculpture park, amenity pathway and fishing and cycling facilities to name but a few of the onsite amenities.

Mountlucas wind farm includes 7km of public amenity walkways and is also the current host of the Offaly park run which takes place every Saturday.

Providing public access to these sites allows us to inform the community on the rehabilitation and development efforts of the team in Bord Na Mona.

We know that we need to keep working to encourage the next generation to consider science more closely when looking at third level choices. What do you think we can do to make sure more student choose science?

I think that an emphasis should be made on the real-life practical applications of science and technology. Concepts that are taught in the classroom should be related to real-world examples. I always found examples useful in visualising a problem particularly when I was studying physics for my Leaving Cert. With science subjects I think that nothing beats practical experience.

Taking part in events like the Young Scientist should also be encouraged with an emphasis on participation and producing new ideas.

My background is energy engineering and as a student studying engineering I visited different power generation sites. These visits were some of the highlights of the my years in college and I think young people would really respond to more first-hand experience.



The countdown is on for this year’s Midlands Science Festival which takes place across the counties of Longford, Laois, Offaly and Westmeath from November 12th- 19th as part of national Science Week. The festival will highlight how STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Maths) is fundamental to everyday life, and demonstrate STEM’s importance to the future development of our society and economy.

The festival team is delighted to announce an exciting, free-of-charge event which will take place on Saturday, November 11th in St. Mel’s secondary school in Longford from 10:00am until 2:00pm. The event will be run in partnership with Abbott, one of Ireland’s leading healthcare companies, and will offer the public a unique opportunity for students ages 12-14 and their parents or guardians to experience a whole range of science and technology activities including Dinosaur Science, Curious Chemistry, The Reptile Zoo, The Science of Energy Drinks, Drone and Robot Coding and high value career advice during this innovative ‘Discovery Day.’

Jackie Gorman, Direc tor of the Midlands Science Festival said,

‘The Midlands Science Festival is all about taking the traditional notion of science out of the lab and in to places like libraries, sports clubs and classrooms, giving people a variety of diverse ways to explore the world around them and to learn something new and beneficial. The overall week-long event is an opportunity to delve in to science through a programme of interactive workshops, informative seminars and shows developed by ourselves in partnership with Science Foundation Ireland and thanks to the generosity of partners such as Abbott, we are now heading in to our fifth year and our 2017 festival promises to be even bigger and better.’

Science Week is a free, family-friendly programme of events which allows 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 discussions with science enthusiasts and communica tors, corporate partners, business and science experts.

Plant Manager of Abbott’s diagnostics facility in Longford, Ciaran Corcoran said,

‘At Abbott, we’re all about helping you live the best life you can through good health. Learning events like the Midlands Science Festival promote the importance of science and technology skills amongst the next generation. By advancing science and technology, we’re shaping new methods of care and improving treatment standards around the world. We want to help students discover a love of science, technology, engineering and math, and make them aware of the many STEM career opportunities that exist. This free event also will provide parents with a unique opportunity to learn about STEM as well, through an assortment of family science experiments and demonstrations, as well as specialist career talks that offer insights in to the diversity of roles and career options.’

Places are limited so please remember to book. See for details.

Please contact Jackie Gorman for further information 0579323902

Pho to: Reptile Zoo tor toise who will visit St. Mel’s in Longford for the day