Midlands Science and ESB Deliver Science Outreach to Midlands Schools

Midlands Science is pleased to announce a recent collaboration with Ireland’s leading energy utility, ESB, which seeks to provide young people with the tools to participate in science as an act of engaged citizenship. This exciting initiative, “Everyday Science” will take place in a number of secondary schools across the Midlands in the coming weeks including, St. Brendan’s Birr Community School in Birr, Mountmellick Community College and Oaklands Community College in Edenderry.

Pat Naughton, Director of People and Organisation Development at ESB commented,

‘Our position as Ireland’s foremost energy company makes us a vital part in building a brighter, more sustainable future so ESB is delighted to work with Midlands Science to showcase the importance of science, technology, engineering and maths education. Supporting young people, adults and our potential future workforce to engage with STEM is a key aspect of our own work within the community. It is important to introduce young children to STEM at an early age in order to spark that curiosity to learn more and we also need to demonstrate its diversity and relevance by showing how important it is to solving challenges across all aspects of everyday life.’

A key part of the work carried out by not-for-profit organisation, Midlands Science, throughout the year is to work with companies, students, scientists, teachers, and community members to explore and solve STEM related challenges related to issues that affect their communities and experience of life. Connecting to real-world and more relevant topics helps young people to develop a deeper understanding of STEM concepts.

CEO of Midlands Science, Jackie Gorman said,

“Everyday Science” will be delivered by RTE Junior’s award-winning scientist, Philip Smyth and using a range of workshop topics from Sustainability and Climate Change to Taste, Music and Future Tech, this project seeks to equip young people with the tools to actively engage with science in ways which will inform their future development as active citizens and a transition into adulthood, making decisions as consumers and citizens based on evidence. This is closely aligned to Science Foundation Ireland’s and Government policy which endeavours to have the most scientifically literate public in the world. In addition to students in selected schools taking part in this programme, teachers will be trained as facilitators as part of the programme, so they can cascade their learning to other groups which we will encourage the development of as part of the programme. Building a better future is a responsibility we all share and working with companies such as ESB enables Midlands Science to play a small part in this so we are very grateful to have this opportunity and look forward to continuing to inspire students across the region in the weeks ahead.’

Photo: Phil Smyth

 

Expert Panel to Explore Viruses, Vaccines & Immunity with Midlands Science

Midlands Science is pleased to announce that the third event in its virtual Science Communities series will take place on October 20th at 10am (on zoom) and this interactive forum will focus on all things related to Viruses, Vaccines and Immunity. The event is free of charge and open to everyone. The forum will feature a talk from Professor Luke O’Neill from Trinity College Dublin. Now widely recognised as being one of the world’s most influential scientists, Luke is passionate about engaging people on scientific topics. The Science Communities project is funded by Science Foundation Ireland through the Discover Award programme and is designed to build impactful dialogue and discussion between community groups in the Midlands and those involved in science and public policy.

CEO of Midlands Science, Jackie Gorman commented,

‘Through these community forums, which explore science, evidence, health and medicine, we want to create an open conversation about how scientific evidence informs public health advice. We are delighted to host this particular topic given its relevance to the international pandemic and we will be encouraging conversation between members of the audience and our panel of experts who will look at viruses and vaccines, explaining what they are and how they work in our body. We will also be discussing vaccines, immunisation and the national immunisation programme along with vaccine hesitancy and the psychology behind this.’

Professor Luke O’Neill holds the Chair of Biochemistry at Trinity College Dublin, is an author and expert on Immunology and has been a positive voice on how science will beat Covid 19 since March 2020.  Professor Karina Butler, was a Consultant Paediatrician at Children’s Health Ireland specialising in Infectious Diseases for many years. She is a Clinical Professor of Paediatrics at UCD and was appointed to NPHET in late 2020, is a member of the COVID-19 Expert Advisory Group of HIQA and a member of the High-Level Task Force for COVID. Professor Jamie Murphy is a Professor in Psychology and a member of the Psychology Research Institute at Ulster University.

Trinity College Dublin Professor of Biochemistry, Luke O’ Neill said,

‘This has been a most alarming period for all of us, but the legacy of this pandemic will be that science delivered on its promise. There comes a great level of responsibility when informing the public of health information relating to Covid19 and it is so critically important to get the facts out and to get the right information across to people because everybody wants to know about it. Understandably, people have so many questions, even now after all this time. The bottom line though, is that science delivered highly effective, safe vaccines and vaccination truly is the only way out of this pandemic.’

If you are interested in taking part in this project, please email outreach@midlandsscience.ie for more information. For registration details, please check our website on https://www.midlandsscience.ie/

https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZ0ocemsqz8sH9Xl7tWRdZdErI7PJk-eVadm

 

 

 

The Degree is only a part of the wider picture!

With Science Week only weeks away, we have been catching up with some of the people who will be delivering inspirational STEM career talks to students all around the Midlands this November, including Charlotte Weever, Life Sciences Consultant with Accenture…We spoke to Charlotte about her own career so far and what she would advise young people who are currently considering their career options….

What inspired you to pursue a college course in STEM.

There was no one thing that inspired me to pursue a STEM degree in university. I have always been very passionate about art and design actually (definitely one of my best subjects!). Reflecting back to when I was little, one of my main personality traits was insatiable curiosity about how things worked and why. As I continued through secondary school, I realised that maths and sciences held a lot of very interesting topics to explore and helped answer a lot of questions I had about how the world works. That hunger to learn more plus my interest in art and design led me to pursue engineering. After all, the word ‘engineer’ has roots in the Latin word for ‘to create’- the perfect route for a wannabe curious designer!

Was there a good focus on STEM in your school?

My schools offered the science subjects and even a class in applied maths. My focus was on physics and applied maths primarily, but I spent a lot of time on the internet watching tutorials and other educational videos diving deeper into the concepts we learnt in class. I would encourage anyone who feels like they aren’t satisfied with just their in-person classes to jump online and take a look at all the amazing resources available to students to learn more about STEM – especially if you have an interest in programming.

What led you specifically into Life Sciences consulting?

Ireland boasts a wonderfully strong Life Sciences industry with over 50,000 people directly employed within the industry and six of the top seven diagnostic companies in the world hosting their operations on our shores. I joined consulting out of university because I wanted to focus on sharpening my people skills. It was just by chance I was placed in their Life Sciences division and I have never looked back. I am very lucky to have a job where I can learn something new every day and utilise some of the knowledge around manufacturing I picked up during my course. The COVID-19 pandemic has ushered in an exciting new era for life sciences, where markets demands have changed, and products are only becoming more complex. We won’t be short on interesting problems to solve for a long time to come!

What was the most interesting aspect of your third level studies?

The most interesting aspect of my third level studies was discovering brand new subject matters I had no experience with (I’m looking at you fluid mechanics and 3D printing!) and also the opportunity to study abroad in another university or institution. I took every opportunity I could to travel abroad and experience something new through internships or other student programmes. It was an excellent way to make new friends all over the world as well as study in my field of interest. I’d highly recommend that any incoming university student look out for these opportunities and take them!

 

What does the future hold for you career wise in a perfect world post pandemic?

I try not to worry about having a concrete career plan these days. I used to think, while finishing up my studies, that I had to follow a purely technical STEM career because that’s what I studied. I could not have been more wrong. I am enjoying my time in Life Sciences consulting at the moment. I’m discovering that I love working with people from a range of STEM and non-STEM backgrounds as the collaborations are much more creative and engaging. Going forward I will be looking for opportunities that allow to me collaborate like this without hyper focus on only technical activities.

What advice would you give to a young person still at school who is considering a future in science or engineering?

My advice for a young person considering their future in science or engineering is to understand that the degree is only a part of the wider picture. What I mean is that as a developing person coming out of secondary level education, it is easy to assume that all you need to do is get a degree in STEM and that will be enough on your CV to land you a great job. This is not correct. Employers and academic institutions these days want to see that their potential candidates had a balanced experience in university, enjoyed sports or other extracurricular activities, like joining a society. This demonstrates that you understood you are not just represented by a final grade on your exams but you are an individual that will thrive in any environment and will be up for all challenges you face.

Virtual Midlands Science Festival Returns this November

Barry W. Fitzgerald, BW Science, author of Secret Science of Santa Claus & Secrets of Superhero Science.
photo: Bart van Overbeeke

Preparations are well underway for this year’s Midlands Science Festival which takes place online again this year as part of national Science Week 2021. This year’s Science Week, which is managed by Science Foundation Ireland is focused on Creating Our Future, the national conversation on research in Ireland.

The Midlands Science Festival, which begins on November 6th with a virtual Discovery Day, celebrates the world of science with imaginative programming that is bursting with lively interviews and career talks, film productions, hands-on workshops and interactive demonstrations for people of all ages.

Jackie Gorman, CEO of Midlands Science said,

‘As an organisation, we took the decision to keep our festival on a virtual platform once more for 2021 because while some of our audiences may be ready to revert to hosting events in-person, others are not. Our Festival aims to connect people with scientists, engineers, and technologists and we managed to successfully do that online last year with plenty of engaging activities for adults and young people to enjoy. This year will follow a similar pattern beginning with our Discovery Day, which is kindly supported by local medical device company, Integra Lifesciences. This will be aired on November 6th and will feature a range of fun and exciting activities such as the Reptile Zoo, Exploration Dome and Superhero Science. This event is free of charge but must be pre-booked via our website.’

 

The Midlands Science Festival encourages collaboration and once again this year, Midlands Science will be partnering with organisations such as the National Museum of Ireland to demonstrate that important connection between science, culture and the arts. The week-long programme will also feature events  with Dublin Zoo, sea-life exploration with Marine Dimensions, lively experiments with Anyone4Science and much more! It a wonderful opportunity for science enthusiasts to see what’s new and innovative in the world of science and technology.

Welcoming the announcement of the Midlands Science Festival, Dr Ruth Freeman, Director of Science for Society, Science Foundation Ireland, said:

“We are delighted to be organising the 26th Science Week with the theme Creating Our Future. As Ireland’s biggest week of the year in terms of engaging the public in all things science, we aim to ignite and facilitate a discussion around the future we want and the role science can play in creating that future. With our partners we are excited to deliver a fantastic variety of virtual and in-person events to the public, so there are opportunities to discover, create, and engage with science wherever you are.

“As the government’s Creating our Future campaign culminates shortly after science week, we would encourage everyone that engages with Science Week to visit the creatingourfuture.ie website to submit their thoughts and ideas on the scientific research they believe should be carried out to create a better, shared future. This Midlands Science Festival will provide an opportunity for the public attend events and discussions that I hope will inspire ideas for future research.”

Each year, this festival offers workshops and events which span a diverse range of subjects that encompass science in the broadest sense, promising something for everyone.

Jackie Gorman continued,

‘We are delighted through support from Science Foundation Ireland and a number of key partnerships to be bringing a number of stimulating science events to the Midlands this November. All things science will be explored through shows, demonstrations and interviews to advance our understanding and appreciation of everything from chocolate to star-gazing. We will also be delving into a range of relatable public issues from the importance of joint health, to ecology and environmental concerns like flooding. Science can help us understand what is happening around us and also provides us with information to make different choices in the future. We hope that people will take the opportunity to virtually attend some of the events which we have programmed for this year, they all feature world class experts who are passionate about science and they love to share that passion with others.’

Throughout Science Week there will be a variety of ways for you to get involved through events, social media and much more. Please check our website for details which will be updated soon www.midlandsscience.ie and you can also use and follow #CreatingOurFuture and #ScienceWeek online.

Further details about Midlands Science can be found on www.midlandsscience.ie and it can be found also on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. Midlands Science is also encouraging everyone this year to take part in Ireland’s biggest brain storm by visiting www.creatingourfuture.ie, where you can submit your ideas for things you’d like researchers in Ireland to work on.

 

NOTES FOR THE EDITOR:

Midlands Science is a not-for-profit company which develops and delivers innovative STEM [science, technology, engineering and maths] outreach programmes and events in the Midlands counties of Laois, Offaly, Longford and Westmeath. They provide opportunities for people of all ages to explore and discuss issues of scientific interest, recognising that science is a unique and valuable part of our culture and society.  These opportunities include school outreach, public events, a regional science festival, capacity building for others doing STEM outreach and a range of special projects. All activities are provided free of charge to participants. The organisation is funded by Rethink Ireland, Science Foundation Ireland, The Naughton Foundation, The Ireland Funds Private Donor Network and a wide range of corporate and philanthropic sources.

 

 

 

 

Maths and Fun in Equal Measures with Midlands Science

Maths Week has been taking place in Ireland every year since 2006 and it will kick off again this October 16th across the country. Maths Week has grown to attract participation from as many as 300,000 people annually across Ireland yet often, we still don’t realise that maths is everywhere and part of all facets of everyday life. Midlands Science is pleased to be delivering a number of virtual events during Maths Week across the region this October as part of its ongoing work to help promote Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) to people of all ages.

CEO of Midlands Science, Jackie Gorman said,

‘We live in a world of numbers and algorithms and as adults we see first-hand how important it is to be confident with maths; it really is a life skill. Midlands Science is delighted to support Maths Week by working with expert providers who can help children to see the lighter aspects of maths by connecting it to real life scenarios such as using it in household tasks or in activities like counting your steps. Maths Week is a great opportunity to create a more positive view of maths and to develop a deep and long-lasting understanding of it as a subject. It also gives us adults a reminder to build our own maths skills, something we can all improve throughout our lives.’

Midlands Science and its providers have an abundance of experience in managing initiatives which focus on creating a more positive outlook towards maths. It seeps into most aspects of life whether we realise it or not and introducing children to more captivating and interactive activities can help bring the subject to life. As part of this year’s Maths Week celebrations, Midlands Science is teaming up Dr Niamh Shaw, Anyone4Science and the Exploration Dome to run workshops which help encourage pupils to see the fun side of maths.

Christine Campbell of ‘Anyone4Science’ is one of the providers who will be running events for pupils in the Midlands during Maths Week.

Christine said,

‘I believe that the most important thing we can do for our children is to ensure that they expect to be good at maths. There are lots of household tasks involving numeracy to inspire them. Make shopping lists, work out how many eggs you need to buy, let the kids bake and maybe using half quantities. Learning for younger pupils should be fun, challenging and rewarding. Let your child know that you too are good at maths, use it regularly and include them in everyday maths and try to have fun with it.’