Virtual Science Week events in Westmeath with National Museum of Ireland

[6:16] The Ballinderry Sword, Ballinderry, Co. Westmeath.
Ninth century ad.
The sword was the principal weapon used by the Vikings, most of the iron blades with their often carborised steel edges probably being imported to Scandinavia where the hilt ornament was generally added. This iron sword from County Westmeath with its silver mounted handle is the finest surviving specimen of a Viking sword from Ireland and one of the most impressive anywhere. It has an elaborate, pattern-welded blade inlaid with the name of the sword-maker VLFBEHRT. Blades inlaid with the name of Ulfbehrt were exported from the Rhineland and have been found as far east as Russia. Most swords found in Ireland from this era probably originated in Norway and have been found in graves in the Dublin area (at Islandbridge, College Green, Bride Street and Dollymount) where they appear mainly to have been interred with the extended burials of warriors, although some of the ritually bent examples may have accompanied cremations as they did in Scandinavia. The present specimen is from a crannóg excavated by the Harvard Archaeological Mission to Ireland in 1932, a site interpreted as the homestead of a farmer or local king. SA 1928:382. L. 92.5 cm.
Mahr 1928, 204–52; Walsh 1998.

Midlands Science is pleased to announce details of two unique, digital activities in Westmeath which are part of a collaboration with the National Museum of Ireland for Science Week 2020.  This year’s events are also presented in partnership with the Heritage Office of Westmeath County Council.

Siobhan Pierce, Education and Outreach Officer, Archaeology & Natural History at National Museum of Ireland commented,

‘We are delighted to be bringing a special, online virtual event to a school in the Midlands for Science Week and we are also looking forward to delivering a family workshop to wider communities in Westmeath, which will explore our rich Viking heritage.  We will host this event live from the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin where we will interact with Athlone primary school pupils so that they can learn about what archaeology can tell us about the arrival of the Vikings to Ireland and their impact on Westmeath. It is wonderful to have a strong partnership with Midlands Science and the County Heritage Officers of the Midlands counties so that we can continue to make these events happen during Science Week even if this year, they cannot be delivered in person. Our family workshop will be hosted live from the Museum with National Museum of Ireland educator Trisha Ryan and will show Viking material found in Dublin and Viking finds from Ballinderry Crannog, Co. Westmeath, including a sword and gaming board. This event was specially created for children 7-12 years old and we are looking forward to interacting with as many people as possible on the day.’

Melanie McQuade, Heritage Officer of Westmeath County Council said,

‘We were really excited to be partnering with the annual Midlands Science Festival and the National Museum of Ireland for these events which takes place as part of national Science Week. They are a fantastic opportunity to promote science education to Westmeath pupils and families as we examine the archaeological evidence for the arrival to the Viking activity in Ireland and in particular Westmeath. Most Viking finds from Ballinderry and other rural sites reflect everyday activities and include tools used in spinning, weaving and sewing and tools and utensils of wood, iron and bronze. Ballinderry, however, also produced a number of exceptional finds, which we will learn about on the day of the workshop.’

Jackie Gorman, CEO of Midlands Science said,

‘Midlands Science is focused on not only providing science and technology activities during Science Week but it is also really important that we explore the link between science and the arts, heritage and culture. Our partnership with the National Museum of Ireland and the Heritage Office of Westmeath County Council allows us to reach a whole other audience, helping us to promote science in a unique way which also helps us to understand and explore our past. Our school event will take place on November 10th during the annual Midlands Science Festival and our family event, Virtual Vikings, will take place on the same date at 3:30pm. Booking is available for this online on www.midlandsscience.ie so join us as we celebrate science and heritage in the Midlands for  Science Week 2020.’

 

 

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!

We are delighted that this year for Science Week we will be introducing specialist Dermatology nurse, Fidelma O’ Dowd who is a co-founder of The Healthy Skin Clinic based in Dublin and also the Midlands. When it comes to our skincare products, it can often be difficult to understand what is actually in them and whether the more expensive products are really better for our skin or not. We will be talking to Fidelma all around the topic of the science of skin and some of the most common issues that she encounters in her day to day work. Meanwhile, we caught up with Fidelma to find out more about what she does..

What inspired you to choose a career in the skincare industry?

It was an easy progression for me as I work as a Dermatology Advance Nurse Practitioner in large teaching hospital in Dublin, which I manage a caseload of skin conditions: chronic skin disease clinics (psoriasis, acne, eczema, rosacea), skin cancer diagnostic procedure (minor skin surgery).

Three years ago I expanded my skill set into the field of aesthetic and opened The Healthy Skin Clinic with clinics in Blanchardstown, Dublin and Ballymahon, Longford. Providing treatments for hyperpigmentation/ melasma, photo aging, anti-aging, acne, rosacea. The Healthy Skin clinic also provides a full range of medical aesthetic treatments such as mesotherapy, profhilio, micro needling, multideminsional de-pigmentation solutions, acne treatments, removal of benign skin lesions (skin tags)

At ‘The Healthy Skin Clinic’, all patients undertake a full skin/medical consultation prior to any treatment, to ensure all skincare treatment programmes are tailored and personalised to the client’s specific needs.

The Healthy Skin Clinic are stockists to some of the world’s leading medical skin care brands some are Obagi, Mesoestetic, Mc Cosmetics, so patients can enhance their skin treatments with the most suitable home care products under expert advice and consultation.

Our Skin Team

Lead Clinician Fidelma ODowd, our team of healthcare professionals consists solely of Registered nurses and Medical Doctors, providing medical skin treatment expertise.

Blanchardstown Team

  • Fidelma ODowd: Dermatology Advance Nurse Practitioner/Lead Clinician.
  • Meave OSullivan: Registered Nurse/Clinician
  • Dr Lylas Aljohmani (B.A;M.B;B.Ch;B.A.O;MCh)Medical Practitioner/ Botox clinics

Ballymahon Team

  • Fidelma ODowd: Dermatology Advanced Nurse Practitioner/Lead clinician
  • Joan Naughton: Registered Nurse/ Clinician
  • Dr Lylas Aljohmani (B.A;M.B;B.Ch;B.A.O;MCh): Medical Practitioner/Botox Clinics

Mr Stephen Kelly: Emergency Department Advance Nurse Practitioner/ Operational Manager

What are the most common issues that patients present with in your clinic?

Dark Spots/age spots/premature aging: you don’t get to choose where it appears. Somehow it just finds a home for itself, right there on the tip of your nose, your cheek, or somewhere else on your face. It’s a dark spot or age spot. Unfortunately, these unwanted spots aren’t likely to go away on their own.

So how does it happen?

Melanin is what gives colour to your skin. Light from the sun actually speeds up the production of melanin. Being exposed to the sun over long periods of time can cause a cluster of melanin to appear-this is how a dark spot occurs

Tanning is also caused by reaction to sun’s rays. That golden skin tone may look desirable, but is actually a sign of skin damage. Over the long term, this damage can lead to premature aging or even cancer

But sun exposure isn’t the only reason dark spots pop up. Sometimes its just part of aging. Genetics also plays a role. If you have light-coloured or fair skin, you are more likely to develop dark spots.

 

How can we prevent them?

The best way to help keep those pesky spots from appearing is to limit sun exposure.

We’re not saying you shouldn’t enjoy outdoors, but be aware of when the sun’s rays can cause the most damage. Between 10.00am and 2pm is when the sun is at its greatest strength. Limit your sun exposure during these hours if you can.

Also, as much as possible, wear long sleeve shirts, pants, and put on a hat to provide shade for your face. This applies for those times when you’re behind the wheel as well. Harmful rays can even penetrate through car windows(tinted windows offer some additional protection). As a general rule, if your going to be exposed to sunlight, wear a high-quality broad spectrum sunscreen with a UVA star rating 4-5, or

Logo on SPF, UVB 30-50.

What can I do to treat them?

If you want to help reduce the appearance of dark spots, practitioners frequently recommend products like Obagi Nu-Derm system. Obagi Nu-Derm includes  Prescription 4% hydroquinone, which is considered by many to be the gold standard in the treatment of dark spots. Ask your skin Practitioner  if Obagi Nu-Derm may be right for you.

Acne

Did You Know…….

  • A degree of acne affects nearly everyone between ages of 15-17
  • 15-20% of young people will experience moderate-severe acne
  • 85% prevalence rate in 12-24 year age group
  • 78% of girls between 8-12 have acne
  • 64% of 20-29 and 43% of 30-39 have visible acne
  • 3% of men and 5% of women with still had a degree of acne aged 40-49

 

Psychological Factors & Acne

Appearance has huge role in social communication and functioning. This effect is reinforced by media, industry and celebrity culture

Acne suffers experience:

  • Shame-70%
  • Embarrassment-63%
  • Anxiety-63%
  • Loss of confidence-67%
  • Impaired social contact-57%

Triggers

  • Hormones:

Puberty, premenstrual flare, disorders with high testosterone levels, Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, anabolic steroids and oral steroids

  • Oils:

Contact with the skin through occupation or cosmetics

  • Stress:

Increase in sebum glands activity during period of stress

NICE Guidelines

What do they say?

Consider:

         A topical retinoid alone or in combination with Benzoyly Peroxide (BPO)

         A topical Antibiotic (1% Clindamycin) – oral antibiotics should always be prescribed alongside a BPO to prevent development of antibiotic resistance

         Azelaic Acid 20%

         Creams or gels

         If irritation occurs lower frequency or concentration

         Frequency of application can be gradually increased to daily if tolerated

Treatments

Obagi CLENZIderm M.D system

Obagi Nu-Derm System

What is a good routine for someone who really, just wants to start taking better care of their skin perhaps after years of not doing so?

At what age did you first start to think about taking care of your skin more seriously? For most, it was sparked by a specific skin condition or concern like the first time you noticed fine lines around your eyes or maybe you experienced acne for the first time as an adult.

While there are two products I strongly recommend using every single day- a cleanser and a sunscreen with SPF 30-50 will help the overall health of your skin.

As always, the best thing you can do to achieve healthy skin is to meet with your skin care practitioner to determine which products are best for specific individual skin care needs

Do products used on your skin have to be very expensive to work well?

Anyone who has visited a professional skincare clinic seeking to improve the appearance of his or her skin has likely heard of or received a recommendation to use professional skin care products the price of the products may be surprising.

Why purchase skin care products from a skincare clinic than a drug store?

It’s a good question to ask, and the reason are worth understanding if you are serious about tackling issues such as melasma/dark spots or acne, as well as the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and the host of problems caused by photoaging.

Value

Consider value in the decision to purchase topical skin care. Products containing greater than 2% Hydroquinone that are indicated to treat hyperpigmentation and melasma, for example, are available only with a prescription. Non-hydroquinone cosmetic alternatives may not work as well, and therefore, repeated purchases may end up costing more than a well-formulated product. Similary, this added value applies to clinically-tested practitioner-dispensed acne products and certain cosmetics.

Clinical Results

The best practitioner-dispensed skin care is clinically tested for positive results, so you can be confident that such products are backed by real results. Before and after photos should give you an idea of typical results. Clinical study engagement is one cost in the development of good skin care products.

In-Depth Product Training/Education

Because the products are part of a skin care professional’s recommended regimen, practitioner training and instructional materials are provided by the manufacturer. Some professional skin care products may cause side effects in some patients; proper and continued education by the practitioner is critical for patients’ proper use and success. Skin care practitioners who recommend specific products will guide patients during their continued use to address any questions or concerns that may arise during the treatment course.

Consumers Be Cautious

Some may still wonder why purchase Practitioner-dispensed skin care products instead of those available through mass retail, which often advertise big promises. Products sold through mass retail skin care often make claims that haven’t been scientifically supported, so it’s often up to consumers to educate and protect themselves. Consider a quote from the FDA “if a product seems too good to be true, it probably is”

Some experts advise to drink three litres of water a day and others say it is more important to ‘eat our water’ through fruit and veg for better skin. It can be confusing. What is one of the biggest myths you have come across about how to look after your skin properly?

When it comes to taking care of your skin, it may be hard to separate fact from fiction, especially with so many skin care articles floating around.

Fortunately, we have put together five of the biggest myths that will help to make your skin care routine a little easier – and your skin a lot happier!

 You don’t need sunscreen in winter

 Whoever told you that sunscreen is only needed on sunny, summer days is either playing a prank on you or needs a lesson in skin care ASAP!

One of the main causes of premature skin aging is the UV rays of the sun, so your best defence is to slather on the SPF all year long. Just because it’s chilly or cloudy outside, that doesn’t mean the sun isn’t damaging to your skin, because UV rays can still pass through clouds. The biggest surprise of all though, is that you can still get sunburn when there’s snow on the ground! The reason for this is because the snow reflects light from the sun, meaning that your skin is getting double the exposure – from the sun and the snow. If you don’t believe us, then just go look at the incredible tans (and sunburns!) skiers and snowboarders get while out on the slopes

If your skin is oily, you should skip the moisturizer

 We’ve heard this one often, but if you’re struggling with oily skin, then your skin may still be in need of a moisturizer.

By skipping the moisturizer, your skin may try to make up for the lack of moisture in the skin by creating its own, in the form of sebum, but unfortunately, the skin can over-compensate by producing too much. The end result is even oilier skin with an increased risk of breakouts.

If you’re using the right products for your skin, then you can’t go wrong. One of our favourite moisturizers for all skin types (dry or oily) is Obagi Hydrate®, which is non-comedogenic and provides 8-hour moisturization with innovative technology and naturally derived ingredients, including shea butter, mango butter, and avocado.

Diet doesn’t affect your skin

You certainly are what you eat – everything you put into your body will have an effect on your skin. A poor diet can not only affect your waistline and decrease your energy levels, but it can also show up on your face as a dull complexion. For example, sugar is known to change the collagen and elastin fibers in the skin, leaving you prone to skin that ages faster. And there’s no argument that alcohol and caffeine can dehydrate your body and skin.

The best diet is well-balanced with antioxidant-rich foods to help defend against free radicals, and foods rich in omega-3 to help maintain healthy and youthful-looking skin

You should start using skin care products when wrinkles appear

If you’re waiting for the signs of skin aging to appear before you invest in skin care products, please keep reading.

You may have heard that prevention is better than cure and this couldn’t be more accurate when it comes to your skin. By starting to use products targeted towards the appearance of lines and wrinkles in your twenties or even sooner, before the signs of skin aging have manifested, you set a great foundation to ensure your skin ages beautifully and gracefully with minimal lines and wrinkles.

Of course, harsher products are generally reserved for more mature skin, but it wouldn’t hurt to start using a good retinol cream and eye cream in your twenties or sooner. Also, be mindful that there are many factors that contribute to aging skin, and lifestyle factors along with healthy skin care rituals are your best defense in the fight against the signs of skin aging

Hot water is best for opening up the pores

Hot water may feel great in the shower, but unfortunately, it’s not so great for your skin. While hot water does open the pores, it’s recommended through steaming the skin, not putting hot water directly on your skin!

Hot water on the skin will dry the skin out by stripping it of beneficial oils, and no amount of product will make up for this lack of moisture. Always rinse your face with lukewarm water and pat dry before applying your products. Leave the steaming to the professionals at your next facial!

 

 

 

Bake your way to the future with British Council Ireland

British Council Ireland is delighted to bring ‘Baking in Space – Bake to the Future’ to Science Week Ireland 2020, working with Midlands, Limerick and Wexford Science Festivals, and inviting audiences from across Ireland and the UK to join in the fun. We are thrilled to be featuring this event as part of our Midlands Science Festival 2020 programme. With lots of live demonstrations, tasting and audience interaction, your curiosity will be whisked, stirred, and taken out of this world…

We caught up with Programme Manager, Aysylu Mutigullina to find out more..

Space champion, Dr. Niamh Shaw, Great British Bake-Off finalist, Andrew Smyth, along with special guests including Britain’s first Astronaut, Helen Sharman, will bring you on a journey from Earth to the Moon and back, with demos and bakes directly to your kitchens! Liz, tell us how people in the Midlands can get involved?

First of all, we would love to see everyone at our online show! The tickets are free for all, and there is a special gift for the first 100 early birds, kindly supported by Yakult. But there is more: together with The Ark Children’s Cultural Centre, Dublin we have developed a ‘Bake to the Future’ activity booklet for children and their adults. It’s full of interesting facts about the Earth and Space, games and DIY creations, as well as delicious ‘spacey’ recipes for the whole family to try out! And, of course, in this digital world, in the run-up to the shows we have prepared some fun online challenges for those in for a bit of a play, and a ‘Honeycomb Moon’ baking competition.  Entrants could win some great prizes and even feature in one of our shows! All winners will be revealed on our social media – make sure you follow #BakingInSpace to see them!

We have all been forced to adapt to new ways of living and doing things whilst in lockdown and as the Covid19 crisis continues. What kinds of related topics and experiments will be covered in the Baking in Space event?

The pandemic restrictions have reawakened a passion for baking in many of us (particularly for banana bread!) and we’ll maybe look at the psychology behind that. Covid-19 has also piqued people’s interest in science and raised awareness of the importance of scientific study and being curious about how our world works. In the show, we’ll explore our planet in lockdown, how we have learned to adapt and the parallels between living in space and living during COVID. Another topic which reflects the whole Science Week programme this year is our shared future, and we’ll look at how lessons learned from human space exploration can help shape our futures on Earth – sustainability, future foods etc.

Baking in Space is kindly supported by Yakult which is itself boldly going into space for experiments with astronauts on the International Space Station. As this is Science Week, can you tell us a bit about their mission to study the influence of Yakult’s bacteria on the human body?

Science is at the heart of Yakult, and we’re delighted that, as in previous years, the company is supporting our Baking in Space programme. Yakult was founded 85 years ago by the Japanese scientist Dr Shirota, who in the 1930s selected and cultivated L. casei Shirota, a unique strain of bacteria that is scientifically proven to reach the gut alive. Every little bottle of Yakult contains at least 20 billion L. casei Shirota. Now, Yakult is boldly going into space for experiments with astronauts on the International Space Station in collaboration with Japan Aerospace Exploration agency (JAXA). Their mission is to study the influence of Yakult’s bacteria on the human body. In outer space, bacteria levels in the body are believed to change. This is a challenge which needs to be researched for extended future space travel. Yakult has developed a technology to freeze-dry their live bacteria and keep them in capsules at ordinary temperatures for as long as nine months. Crew members of the ISS are consuming these capsules of L.casei Shirota to provide the answers!

The British Council works with the brightest new talent in science communications and engaging the public directly with scientific subjects that affect our society, supporting best practice in STEM/STEAM education for the development of future scientists, and helping researchers in showcasing their work internationally. Why is it important for the British Council to get involved with events such as the Midlands Science Festival?

At the British Council we believe that, as the world grapples with the COVID-19 and other global challenges, the importance of clear and engaging communication about scientific subjects is more important than ever, and Science Week Ireland is a brilliant platform to do just that.  ‘Baking in Space – Bake to the Future’ is a fun and interactive show for the whole family to enjoy, but it does explore how science and space science in particular can help build a better future for our planet and society. We are so pleased to be able to work with Andrew Smyth and Dr Niamh Shaw again and bring the show to homes across Ireland. Andrew and Niamh’s unique blend of baking, engineering and space is for everyone who is even the tiniest bit curious about science.  We are especially delighted that Helen Sharman, the first British astronaut, will join the webcast this year and share her experience of life and food in space.

#bakingInSpace @britishcouncil ireland  @Niamh Shaw @cakesmyth @EuropeanSpaceAgency@curiouskim1 @ScienceWeekIreland @TheArkDublin @ScienceFoundationIreland @YakultUKIE @FameLab

 

 

Exploring the Science of Resilience in Uncertain Times

The term self-care is something that we have been increasingly hearing over the past six months as people come to terms with the Covid19 crisis. We are learning that it’s so important to make sure we look after our bodies and our minds every day but we also know that it can be hard to find the time for this when life is so busy and stressful. Midlands Science is delighted to present another unique, online public talk for Science Week 2020 which takes place this November. This event sees us delving into the world of the science of resilience and self-care with Dr. Craig Slattery, Midlands Science Chairperson who will interview Irish Psychologist & Psychotherapist, Dr Andrew Magee, who works closely with health service and the civil service staff on their mental and psychological well-being.

When asked about what kind of long-term effect that this Covid19 situation might have on people, Dr. Magee said,

‘We can equate this period of abrupt isolation to the Blitz in London during World War II in the sense that we know for sure this is a period of time which people will always remember aspects of. Many people are acting from fear at the moment, some are choosing not to even believe that the pandemic is happening. There is no doubt it will leave a mark. It will be recorded in history books and there is definitely a significant risk to our mental health not only because of the isolation and the uncertainty during this period of time but also for economic reasons and worries about the future.’

Self-care isn’t a way of preventing mental health problems but it is a practice of taking the time to look after ourselves in a kind and compassionate, which is great for staying psychologically healthy. There is a huge perception that self-care is selfish or self-indulgent or that it is seen as a reward, but it should not be viewed in terms of something we deserve or don’t deserve.

Dr Magee continued,

‘Resilience is something which has been commercialised in recent years. Resilience is all about a persons’ ability to function well despite very difficult experiences happening at the same time. It is not just about being a magic solution to bouncing back to normal after something negative happens. Resilience takes time and happens in small increments. The psychological aspects of resilience and self-care are closely linked as without that compassion for yourself, resilience struggles to emerge. Self-care allows us those critical rest periods in order to become more resilient.’

Midlands Science has been working with science communication experts and specialist professionals to create new science shows, informative talks and other online learning resources and running them online since the start of the Covid19 pandemic and this interview is part of a series of public events which will hopefully appeal to a large audience during these very different times.

Dr. Craig Slattery said,

‘Daily life has changed so abruptly and this is a time of massive challenge for people. This interview looks at how the pandemic and the associated uncertainty is impacting and weighing heavily upon people, how we are responding to the evolving crisis as individuals, the various phases and how it is affecting future plans and day to day commitments. Please join us online for this timely event, which explores not only the topic of resilience, but also the differences between psychology and psychotherapy and much more. It takes place during this year’s Midlands Science Festival and will be available online from November 7th and throughout Science Week 2020.’

Science of Star Wars for Science Week 2020!

We are really excited to explore the science of Star Wars with author and scientist Jon Chase for this year’s Midlands Science Festival. How long before we get a Star Wars speeder off the ground? What exactly is the Force? How could Kylo Ren stop a blaster shot in mid-air? How could we live on a gas giant like Bespin? Nature versus nurture: How does it play out in the making of Jedi? How much would it cost to build the Death Star? This is the Science Week event you’ve been waiting for !! Suitable for Padawans and Jedi alike.

We caught up with Jon to find out more….

Jon, we are delighted that you will be participating in this year’s Midlands Science Festival. You are a passionate science communicator who is on a mission to spread the messages of science in your own unique way. What methods do you use to do this and how do you make science more exciting and interesting especially for young children?

I make workshops to engage in hands on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) as well as science shows to entertain, including plenty of humour where I can.  I also make raps about STEM as another way for people to become informed about STEM whilst being entertained at the same time. I generally try to keep things as light hearted as possible.

Was there a particular moment when you started to see the connection between music and science?

 

I suppose the closest thing to that would be when I produced a rap for NASA Astrobiology Magazine in 2008.  My lecturer at the time heard a random rap I wrote, which included references to the scientific method, He highlighted my ability to one of the producers of the magazine and next thing I knew I was producing a rap and video for them.   There was a lot of interest in what I did and from that point on, I was officially regarded as a science rapper.  I even ended up doing my dissertation on the topic of Science raps.

Using some basic principles of science, your book, ‘The Science of Star Wars’ co-written with Mark Brake,  unlocks some of the secrets behind the epic George Lucas movies. What can Star Wars fans expect from your upcoming virtual Science Week event with Midlands Science?

Lots of Science facts about the lifeforms and technologies seen within the movies, as well as an exploration of what humans currently know about space and how that impacts on the Universe of Star Wars.  Answering questions like how big is space, how old is it, could we find life out there, what’s the best space ships, how close are we to producing various Star Wars technologies?    

 You are known for cracking stereotypes about science. What can we do to make science more accessible to people and make sure people are less scared of it and more curious about it?

I think most people are curious about science but that feeling can also be linked with a fear and wariness of it. Much of science fiction has been really good at helping us to explore these fears, by helping us to imagine not only the future potential of STEM, but also the sometimes dire consequences.  It’s important to be honest with regards to science, i.e. Science is a way of thinking and doing things, and seeks to understand nature through that particular way of thinking and doing (known as the scientific method). Science does take time and effort to do, most people don’t find it easy but they work at it because they enjoy it (I liken it to playing a challenging computer game.  You stick at it because even though it’s hard, the end outcome is personally rewarding for you).  Most importantly, you don’t have to be good at science to engage with what it reveals about the world.  You just have to find the access point that works for the person, whether it be formal education, shows, movies, magazines, workshops, raps, computer games or whatever.

You have a degree in Aeronautical Engineering and a BSc in Science and Science Fiction. What would you say to a young person who is considering a career in science but might have been discouraged about it for some reason along the way?

Find different ways to surround yourself with science. In particular, think about the things that inspire you most about STEM.  Is it the future possibilities or its ability to solve real world problems now, do you like to know how everything works or are you fond of doing experiments and testing ideas?  We’re fortunate nowadays in that we can access information about all aspects of STEM via the internet, with people providing loads of different ways to engage with it.  Seek out the STEM messages and activities that inspire you and use that inspiration to motivate you through the various challenges you might encounter.  Remember, just like a computer game, you’ll embark on a journey that will be frustrating at times but personally rewarding overall as you overcome challenges one step at a time.

 

 

  Midlands Science Announce Virtual Discovery Day for Science Week  

The Midlands Science Festival  takes place from November 7th to 15th as a week-long, immersive digital event as part of national Science Week and as part of the celebrations, Midlands Science will be offering an interactive, online community event to people of all ages. This event will take place on November 7th and will feature a wide range of interactive workshops, science fun, creative experiments and more. In a time of uncertainty, the Midlands Science  team is conscious that it is more important than ever to provide activities for our audiences to ensure that they keep learning about science in an accessible way.

CEO of Midlands Science, Jackie Gorman said,

“ Excitement is building for our upcoming family Discovery Day which would usually take place in a large venue but it will be different this year with all activities being experienced online. We are confident that this fun and informative event will not only inspire and encourage young minds to think about the many aspects of real-world science in new and different ways but we also hope that it will be a real treat for the whole family. Dale Treadwell’s Dinosaur Show, Anyone4Science, the Exploration Dome, The Reptile Zoo and Dr Mindflip’s Ultimate Learning Experience are just some of the wonderful activities that we have lined up for the day. More information including the full schedule and how to register will be announced in the coming days. This is a date in the diary which we look forward to every year. It is always so amazing to see the wonder in young faces and to watch as they realise that science is not just about wearing a lab coat but it can be seen in so many facets of our daily lives.”

Jessica Curtis, Senior Fund Manager, Rethink Ireland said,

“The theme of this years’ Science Week is ‘choose your future’ which is apt because when we chose to support Midlands Science we saw an exciting but fairly predictable future. Little did we know that we would have to learn so much about science with the onset of COVID 19 or that Midlands Science would have to create entire festivals and programmes online instead of in person! We are very proud to support these great innovators who have successfully pivoted their work and made science even more accessible and intriguing for their thousands of participants online.”

Jackie Gorman continued,

“This event is free so please do join us in celebrating the many wonders of science this November and keep an eye on www.midlandsscience.ie for more details and for information about our many other events for Science Week 2020.”

 

Doing things Differently!  

October and November are very busy months for us as we work with a whole host of schools, partners and providers to deliver to you a packed programme of events for Science Week. This year, the Midlands Science Festival will take place online. The team at Midlands Science have been busy over the past while upskilling in various digital platforms and educational approaches to make the online experience for all those attending as enjoyable as possible. The team would like to give a big thanks in particular to Maebh Coleman of TU Dublin who has provided much valuable input into the design and ethos of this year’s festival. Midlands Science hope that as many people as possible will take the opportunity to celebrate science with us just like we do every other year from November 7th – 15th.

CEO of Midlands Science, Jackie Gorman said,

‘In our planning for this year, we have co-created and pre-recorded events with our various speakers, worked with our brilliant workshop providers to ensure that events for all ages can still be accessed remotely and set about really creating a science festival with a difference for 2020. We feel that the online approach could give even more people access to informative public talks and live science shows than ever before, as we are often restricted by numbers and by events taking place in particular locations.’

As more and more online educational experiences and live-streamed events continue to find their place amidst the unprecedented worldwide disruption, the Midlands Science Festival will be open to everyone and we look forward to seeing you there soon.

Midlands Science Executive Shortlisted for LIFT Ireland Award

LIFT Ireland is a not-for-profit organisation that works to build positive leadership skills in communities across Ireland. It created an awards initiative to recognise strong leadership at all levels of Irish society from grassroots organisations to corporate boardrooms. Midlands Science Business Development Executive, Pauline Nally, was recently shortlisted for one of these awards. We caught up with her to find out more…

 

Pauline, you are Business Development Executive for Midlands Science. Can you tell us a little bit about what that work involves?

 

My role can be quite varied depending on the needs of Midlands Science and the particular time of year but in the main, it is my job to fundraise, to produce high quality pitches and presentations, to identify and speak with relevant business and academic contacts who may be interested in collaborating with Midlands Science and track those leads. Building business relationships with existing clients and sponsors is also essential.  I have a passion for bringing value to non-profits and sourcing new opportunities and partners for the organisation is the key aspect of my role.

 

You have recently been shortlisted for an award in Dedication & Determination, having participated in LIFT Ireland’s programme over the past 12 months. Congratulations!

Can you tell us about your experience of availing of this programme and why leadership skills are now more important than ever?

 

I am truly honoured to have been shortlisted for a LIFT Ireland leadership award in dedication and determination. LIFT aims to get the people of Ireland talking about values and leadership and to grow our self-awareness which then informs both our decision-making and determination in our professional roles. The wonderful training that I experienced with LIFT has helped me to really understand where I need to focus attention in order to improve the quality of how I approach both my work and my life in general. I believe that when you are really aware of your values, you will not only increase your chances of success but will also encourage and bring others along with you towards achieving your collective corporate goals.

 

The values of LIFT impact our homes, our families, our friendships, our communities and our workplaces. What are some of the most important skills you feel you have acquired that you can take into your professional role going forward?

 

I am really looking forward to the practical day-to-day application of this facilitator training and to focusing on the core values including customer service excellence, innovation and continuous learning. Excellent communication skills are so important in my role as I interact with a diverse range of individuals and organisations at all levels of business on a daily basis. It is also so important that I have a positive and proactive attitude to driving new business and partnerships for Midlands Science so that involves building my knowledge about science education and promotion and being willing to learn about the sector and how it is developing all the time. As the escalating Covid-19 crisis is forcing the cancellation of many physical events, those of us involved in fundraising really need to think fast and strategically in order to prepare for the times ahead and one of the critical things that this training has taught me is to keep communicating and at all times in the most considerate and empathetic way.

 

What did you enjoy most about the training with LIFT and would you recommend it to others?

 

It was really great to engage and connect with people across all levels of the others organisations who partook in the training. During a time which is increasingly challenging for everyone, it provided a lovely opportunity to reflect on my work and think about some small changes I could quite easily make. There was something very reassuring about networking with others and realising that everyone has their difficult days but it is all about taking note and then having the tools to keep pressing forward to the next opportunity in a positive and confident way. I am delighted that I got involved and am very pleased to be nominated for this important award.

Midlands Science Festival Goes Virtual

For the first time in its eight-year history, the Midlands Science Festival will be accessible from November 8th – 15th as a week-long, immersive digital event as part of national Science Week. The core theme for Science Week 2020  which is now in its 25th year is ‘Science Week – Choosing our Future’ focusing on how science can improve our lives in the future and in the present. This year’s festival offering will enable schools, teachers, parents and people of all ages to get involved virtually and it will deliver engaging talks, interactive workshops and presentations in a whole new and innovative format. In a time of increasing unease, the Midlands Science Festival team is conscious that it is more important than ever to continue to provide activities to continue to engage our young people, build optimism and help them to explore science and how it relates to everything in our day to day lives.

CEO of Midlands Science, Jackie Gorman said,

“ The theme this year will explore how science can help us to make positive choices that will impact the environment, our health, and our quality of life. We took the time to evaluate the situation as an organisation before deciding that a virtual festival really was the best way forward for Science Week 2020. It allows us to provide most of the events that we had already planned for our audiences, in a safe and secure manner.  This year we are inviting people to step inside a free, virtual science sphere to join top science communicators, workshop presenters, industry experts, science ambassadors and more! This pandemic has really brought an awareness to the way in which we all work, learn and consume information. We have been working diligently over the past seven months to adapt to an online model to continue to raise awareness of science and we would like to thank all of our wonderful partners and sponsors who have supported and encouraged us to do this during such a challenging time. Throughout Science Week there will be a variety of ways for you to get involved through events, social media and much more. You can also use and follow #BelieveInScience online.”

The Midlands Science Festival will this year celebrate science in the Midlands in a number of different ways. Some of the key highlights will include an inspiring journey into Space with Dr. Niamh Shaw, informative public talks on the ‘Science of Resilience’ and the ‘Science of Skin’ which will be available online and we are also really looking forward to delving into the exciting world of Star Wars with Jon Chase. We are also delighted to be providing a range of high-level, virtual career talks for secondary schools with some of our industry and academic partners, which we hope will encourage more and more students to consider science as a future course and career option.

Dr. Craig Slattery, Midland Science Chairperson, commented,

“Sadly, we have seen highly influential public figures around the world openly attempt to undermine or discredit valid scientific information to service their own agendas.  Now, more so than ever, delivering authentic, exciting and informative public science events to the people of the Midlands, young and old, is of the utmost importance.  Under normal circumstances, Midlands Science would organise over 100 face-to-face events during the Midlands Science Festival with a combined audience of over 10,000 people each year. Naturally this year is going to be very different but we are confident that the enjoyment and inspiration on offer will not be!”

This year also includes an exploration into Viking Heritage with the National Museum of Ireland and a family Discovery Day, which will see the return of some of much-loved activities such Dale Treadwell’s Dinosaur Show, Anyone 4 Science, the Exploration Dome, The Reptile Zoo, Ironman Engineering and Dr Mindflip’s Ultimate Learning Experience.

More information including the full schedule of events, speaker line-ups, and how to register will be announced in the coming weeks.

 

 

 

Promoting a Positive Attitude for Maths Week

Maths Week 2020 is here and as part of our celebrations, we caught up with Midlands Science board member and highly experienced post-primary teacher in Mathematics, Patricia Nunan, to hear her views on promoting maths as a subject and the importance of Maths Week…..

Maths Week is all about celebrating maths as a subject and promoting positive attitudes towards maths and of course, furthering the understanding of our world through maths. Maths Week will be very different this year due to Covid19 and schools will be doing their best to ensure the pupils get to have fun with maths whilst in school but what are some of the activities you think parents could be doing to increase their child’s understanding of maths in the household?

I think encouraging children to be involved in household activities like baking or measuring allows children to see the real world applications of Maths. For example, driving to school last week my 9 year old asked about Maths and driving and we discussed distance and speed but also when parking in terms of spatial awareness. Encouraging them at all times to see that Maths is a really useful practical subject as opposed to something which is abstract and difficult. Also, I think parents should resist from sharing their negative experiences or feelings about Maths and try to promote positive attitudes. Many parents will share their anxieties and difficulties with it and that creates anxiety with the child from the beginning. Furthermore, stereotypical play activities can alienate girls from engaging with blocks or building or puzzles which promote logic and spatial awareness. 

In recent times, we hear people talking more about maths anxiety. What exactly is this and what are schools and teachers doing to try to help pupils to overcome it?

Mind over matter. Often children have a negative perception of Maths by the time they get to school. Schools and teachers are encouraging children to see Maths as a more “fun” subject, something which can be really useful and enjoyable.  Initiatives like Maths Week certainly do a lot in this regard and in the promotion of Maths. Post Primary schools, often facilitated by the Guidance teacher, organise visitors and speakers who have graduated from Maths related courses or who use Maths in their jobs on a regular basis. On a more practical level, teachers spend time encouraging students to problem solve and develop critical thinking skills which they can apply across all subjects and as a life skill in general. 

What do you think it is that causes this initial fear of maths?

It seems to be more socially acceptable to be “bad at Maths”, cool even in some ways. People do not claim to be “bad at English” quite so quickly. I do believe a lot has been done in recent years to promote Maths both in society and in schools. However, there is always room for further improvement. Perhaps making the link between sports and Maths would bring further encouragement as it has been proven that Spatial awareness amongst girls is typically weaker than amongst boys, an important skill on any sports pitch. 

Why are events like national Maths Week so important? Do you think they help to change peoples’ perceptions of maths and make it more enjoyable?

Maths Week is absolutely crucial in my opinion as it places Maths awareness and skills at the top of the agenda, allowing students and parents to make the connections between real life and Maths. The Maths Eyes campaign which ran a number of years ago was a really fantastic initiative in my opinion as it pushed us all to look at the world around us and see the Maths in our everyday lives. 

@mathsweek

#MathsAtHome

Patricia is a qualified post primary teacher in Mathematics and French. She graduated with a Higher Diploma in Education from UCD and a Higher Diploma in Educational Management and Administration from NUI Maynooth. She then completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Educational Leadership in NUI Maynooth and a Masters in Educational Management from WIT. Patricia has worked, as an advisor, with the Professional Development Service for Teachers (PDST) for the last two years in the areas of Leaving Certificate Applied, Numeracy, MFL and DEIS planning. She also led the design of the teacher CPD for the revised module descriptor in Mathematical Applications.  She is a board member of Midland Science which promotes STEM subjects across the midland counties and is a passionate advocate for active participation of girls in STEM subjects, in particular.

Patricia worked as a School Placement Tutor with Trinity College Dublin for a number of years and also facilitated workshops for the National Induction Programme (NIPT).