Exciting Events later this year with Popular Science Communicator

We are so pleased to announce that we will be working with Dr Niamh Shaw later this year, during Science Week 2020 and the annual Midlands Science Festival. Niamh is a performer, writer & communicator with 2 degrees in engineering & a PhD in science. Passionate about igniting peoples curiosity she explores crossovers in STEMart & communication to share the human story of science. We caught up with Niamh to find out more about what to expect from her upcoming work in the Midlands this year …

Niamh, we are so delighted that you will be coming to the Midlands region to work with us this year as we continue to spread the message that science is all around us in much in everyday life. I know it is too soon to provide the finer details of what will be involved but can you give us a little flavour of what your events are like and what people might be able to expect..

 

Firstly, I’m delighted to be a part of Midlands Science festival this year. You also curate such a wide variety of events that cater for all types of people. My events will all obviously be space-themed and shared with stories and videos about my own space adventures. While there are lots of facts in my events, they aren’t science shows and I’ve made them especially for people who feel that science isn’t really their cup of tea. So lots of videos, pictures and stories about space and designed for people of all ages and all interests.

 

With everyone at home during the current Coronavirus outbreak, are there any tips that you can give to young people to ensure they stay engaged in science learning, albeit in new and different ways?

Science is about analysis really isn’t it? It’s about gathering information and based on the facts, you can better understand something. So my best tip for people to stay engaged in science is to find ways of using your analysis-time brain around the house.

For instance, have you as a family made a daily schedule? if so, what’s on the schedule? Is it the most efficient use of your time? Is someone doing more work than the other? What are the shared tasks? Have you all agreed on the procedures for each task? Do you have a logging system? Can you analyse the schedule at the end of the day? Can it be improved? That’s science right there, everyone!

And if you want to get involved in a home activity, just go outside when its dark and look up! Can you see the moon? If not, why not? How many stars can you see? What are the brightest ones in the sky? Do you see any planets? If you want to know more about what you see in the night sky, there are tons of apps that can help teach you astronomy. The moon will soon be back in our night skies, the planet Venus will be with us a few more weeks and Mercury, Jupiter and Mars will be more visible in the weeks ahead. So much to see, even without a telescope. So just look up!

 

We have heard you have a very exciting life’s mission..can you tell us more?

I have devoted the rest of my life to get to space. I haven’t it all fully figured out just yet but that’s the best part!  I do know that in achieving this,  that I get to share stories about the adventure with all of you! I want to be the ‘normalnaut’ storyteller! And so far, I’ve shared a few of my adventures- like being on a simulated Mars mission in the middle of the desert in America, then I went to Star City in Moscow and took a zero-gravity flight to feel what microgravity (or weightlessness) feels like in the body (very strange, in short!). And other adventures too which I’ll share with you all at the festival in November.

 

You were also recently the co-recipient of a very special award, can you tell us what that meant to you and a little bit about what it was?

I was absolutely thrilled to be given an award from Science Foundation Ireland for my work in communicating STEM, in recognition for all the events and talks and writing that I do about space and science. That was pretty cool.

 

Hard to choose I know but can you share with us what is your favourite science fact ever?

That we are such a tiny species living on a tiny planet that orbits an insignificant star in the Milky Way galaxy, 100,000 light-years in diameter, one galaxy of hundreds of galaxies grouped together in a cluster, the Virgo Cluster, which is part of a supercluster of other clusters and that 55 superclusters make up everything we currently know about our visible Universe, the edge of which is 46.6 billion light-years away from us right now. And yet, we regularly propel 3 people regularly into space and keep them alive onboard the International Space Station and return them safely to earth. That we are incredibly tine in this vast Universe and yet, when people come together and work towards a shared goal, we can literally make the impossible possible. I love that.

Anything else coming up that you can share with us? We are really interested to know what you have been up to recently?

My book ‘Dream Big’ from Mercier Press (a memoir of sorts of the story so far in getting to space) came out in bookstores about 2 days before the first COVID restrictions hit the country. We still have to have the official launch for that, which will probably happen when the book stores re-open. I’ve been working with RTE’s Home School Hub and have contributed some space content for them, which has been a privilege. I am planning the next big space adventure which will hopefully be ready to roll out when the lockdown and restrictions begin to loosen up (whenever that will be). I should be working with the International Space University this summer on their graduate programme in Space Humanities activities.  And lots of online activities too.

Looking forward to meeting you all at Midlands Science Festival!

 

STAY SAFE SAFE HOME

Midlands Science brings Science Home with Gas Networks Ireland

The not for profit organisation, Midlands Science, is delighted to now be in a position to continue to offer a range of remote, fun science workshops via their social media channels with thanks to the support and sponsorship of partner, Gas Networks Ireland. The team at Midlands Science has been working with science communication experts to create new science shows and other online learning resources and running them online over the past few weeks to help ensure that young people can continue to sustain their engagement in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) from their own home during these very different times.

‘Science at Home’ is an entertaining show that explores the science of everyday things at home. The show will be broadcast online on the Midlands Science Facebook page every Tuesday at 12:00 pm and has been running since March 17th following the school closures. The shows will hopefully continue until June of this year and will be run with support from Gas Networks Ireland for the next two weeks. These two episodes will focus on the primary school science topics of living things and biodiversity. All episodes are available on the Youtube channel of Midlands Science and will be available there as full archive.

This is one of a number of impactful initiatives across Ireland promoting science, technology, engineering, maths, literacy, employability and the development of life skills that Gas Networks Ireland supports. Gas Networks Ireland’s sustainability strategy has three pillars of sustainability – environmental impact, social impact and economic impact. As part of its social impact programme, in 2018,Gas Networks Ireland launched the STEM education programme, Energize, in partnership with Junior Achievement Ireland (JAI) in primary schools across the country. The programme is available to 5,000 sixth class students nationwide, with the objective to foster students’ interest in STEM subjects.

Christina van der Kamp, Corporate Responsibility Manager at Gas Networks Ireland, said,

‘Covid-19 is affecting every part of our lives at the moment. We are  getting used to a new way of living so that we can all play our part to stop the spread of the virus.

‘Gas Networks Ireland is delighted to be partnering with Midlands Science to deliver a range of online ‘science at home’ activities. We believe it is particularly important to keep in mind the effect this crisis may be having on young people  who are unable to attend school and see their peers. Providing these children with some engaging online activities is a proactive and useful way to nurture a positive attitude to science while staying at home.

‘We are passionate about introducing young people to the exciting world of science and engineering from an early age, and actively encourage young people to really think about the world of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) and how it impacts our lives on an everyday basis.’

Science at Home presenter, Dr. Dan Nickstrom of Maynooth University said,

‘I’m having a lot of fun trying to communicate science in this way. It’s new and challenging territory for me but I’m enjoying the opportunity and am delighted it’s getting such a good reception among people in the Midlands, young and old especially those trying to keep up with school work.’

Midlands Science CEO, Jackie Gorman said,

‘We know that many parents are now dealing with the dual challenges of working from home while also keeping children safe and hopefully continuing to learn in some way. We are most grateful to Gas Networks Ireland for their support and commitment to helping students during these unsettling days of social distancing and quarantine.

‘Trying to navigate all of this is testing for everyone and we wanted to help in some small way by creating our own virtual science classroom. We hope these science learning workshops will benefit people in the coming weeks and we have had plenty of engagement and positive feedback so far.’

ENDS

Midlands Science

Midlands Science is a not for profit company which promotes STEM education [Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths] in the midlands of Ireland. It is funded by a mixture of public and private funding and it has a voluntary board of directors. We deliver STEM outreach projects on time, on budget and with significant impact in terms of target audience engagement, media engagement and long-term development outcomes. ‘Science at Home’ is an entertaining show that explores the science of everyday things at home. The show will be broadcast online on the Midlands Science Facebook page every Tuesday at 12:00 pm.

About Gas Networks Ireland

Gas Networks Ireland is the business division of Ervia that owns, builds and maintains the natural gas network in Ireland and connects all customers to the gas network. Gas Networks Ireland operates one of the most modern and safe gas networks in the world and ensures that over 700,000 homes and businesses receive a safe, efficient and secure supply of natural gas, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Ervia is a commercial semi-state multi-utility company with responsibility for the delivery of gas and water infrastructure and services in Ireland.

Gas Networks Ireland published its first sustainability report last year. “Sustainability in Action” highlights Gas Networks Ireland’s progress in implementing the principles of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals across the business.

 

The full report, “Sustainability in Action”, can be found at:

https://www.gasnetworks.ie/corporate/company/our-commitment/sustainability-report/

 

 

Dr. Dan Nickstrom of Maynooth University

Applause for our Nursing Staff on World Health Day

Today is World Health Day and The World Health Organisation (WHO) has designated 2020 as the “Year of the Nurse and Midwife” in honour of the 200th anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale and in recognition of her contribution to health and humanity.

Jackie Gorman, CEO of Midlands Science said,

‘The main focus of World Health Day this year is to celebrate the work of nurses and midwives and remind world leaders of the critical role they play in keeping the world healthy. Midlands Science would like to wholeheartedly join in this celebration of all nurses and other health workers who are in the frontline here in Ireland and especially those in our own region, in providing high quality, people-centered treatment and care during this global crisis. It has been wonderful to see the way communities have come together to thank and applaud our frontline staff in recent weeks. People in the beauty and haircare industries are organising care days for everyone involved when all of this has passed, shops and restaurants are preparing and delivering home cooked meals to hospital workers and others are offering to step in to provide childcare for those who are needed in frontline roles throughout this pandemic.’

Nursing Now, a global campaign to improve health by raising the status of nursing, launched in Ireland around this time last year. This worldwide campaign aims for the recognition of nurses’ contribution to healthcare, gender equality, wider society and improved economies. Its aims include greater investment in nursing and more nurses in leadership positions and there is no doubt that the invaluable contribution nurses make is certainly at the forefront at present as Covid19 continues to spread here in Ireland and worldwide.

Jackie Gorman continued,

‘Midlands Science works with many experts who in involved in the manufacture of critical medical equipment and also with wonderful medical staff who have often provided important advice for us various projects, funding applications and events. We wish to take this opportunity today on World Health Day to salute them all and sincerely thank them for the incredible work they are doing in healthcare delivery during this unprecedented and highly challenging time.’

Wear Blue at Home for World Autism Awareness Day

Today is World Autism Awareness Day and to celebrate, Midlands Science is delighted to remind everyone of a series of workshops they will be providing in the near future for people with ASD, their parents and siblings. This is the thirteenth annual World Autism Awareness Day and it is usually a day when the international community, hundreds of thousands of landmarks, buildings, homes and communities around the world come together to Light It Up Blue in recognition of people with autism and those who love and support them. We have had to press pause on our own planned ASD workshops for now but we are looking forward to hopefully rolling more of them out across the Midlands when things eventually settle down with the current pandemic. The aim of these workshops is to provide science learning in a supportive workshop environment. These events are a great opportunity to explore the fun of science and to practice focusing and concentration, social cognition, collaboration and teamwork, listening, comprehension skills and more. For these activities, Midlands Science has partnered with Anyone 4 Science;  an experienced team of science outreach educators who have expertise in working with children on the ASD spectrum.

 

Christine Campbell of Anyone for Science commented,

‘I have been working with Midlands Science for a number of years now during Science Week to deliver a range of interactive and fun workshops for pupils across the Midlands region. I am delighted that now, I am able to provide some very unique workshops which have been designed for young people on the ASD spectrum. Innovative partnerships between organisations such as Anyone for Science and Midlands Science are really important because they help us to continue the critical conversation about autism and inclusion and ensuring that all children have the opportunities to have new and exciting experiences.’

Jackie Gorman, Midlands Science CEO said,

‘We not only want to provide fun and engaging activities within classrooms and other settings such as libraries, theatres and even outdoors, we also want to bring together the people who can help move our knowledge forward to make improvements and provide support and educational events for others who may not always be able to avail of such opportunities. Over the past number of years, we have received valuable feedback from people with autism and their families about their challenges and we want to help provide meaningful events that align with their individual strengths and interests too. This year is different due to the fact that we are all at home, so maybe instead of Lighting it up Blue, you could wear blue instead to celebrate World Autism Awareness Day. Science tells us that blue is a calming colour so this could be the perfect day for us all to wear it.’

in the near future for people with ASD, their parents and siblings. This is the thirteenth annual World Autism Awareness Day and it is usually a day when the international community, hundreds of thousands of landmarks, buildings, homes and communities around the world come together to Light It Up Blue in recognition of people with autism and those who love and support them. We have had to press pause on our own planned ASD workshops for now but we are looking forward to hopefully rolling more of them out across the Midlands when things eventually settle down with the current pandemic. The aim of these workshops is to provide science learning in a supportive workshop environment. These events are a great opportunity to explore the fun of science and to practice focusing and concentration, social cognition, collaboration and teamwork, listening, comprehension skills and more. For these activities, Midlands Science has partnered with Anyone 4 Science;  an experienced team of science outreach educators who have expertise in working with children on the ASD spectrum.

 

Christine Campbell of Anyone for Science commented,

‘I have been working with Midlands Science for a number of years now during Science Week to deliver a range of interactive and fun workshops for pupils across the Midlands region. I am delighted that now, I am able to provide some very unique workshops which have been designed for young people on the ASD spectrum. Innovative partnerships between organisations such as Anyone for Science and Midlands Science are really important because they help us to continue the critical conversation about autism and inclusion and ensuring that all children have the opportunities to have new and exciting experiences.’

 

Jackie Gorman, Midlands Science CEO said,

 

‘We not only want to provide fun and engaging activities within classrooms and other settings such as libraries, theatres and even outdoors, we also want to bring together the people who can help move our knowledge forward to make improvements and provide support and educational events for others who may not always be able to avail of such opportunities. Over the past number of years, we have received valuable feedback from people with autism and their families about their challenges and we want to help provide meaningful events that align with their individual strengths and interests too. This year is different due to the fact that we are all at home, so maybe instead of Lighting it up Blue, you could wear blue instead to celebrate World Autism Awareness Day. Science tells us that blue is a calming colour so this could be the perfect day for us all to wear it.’