School Outreach Programme 2022

Midlands Science was delighted with the huge response to its free school outreach programme for 2022 and would like to thank all schools who responded to our call to host workshops and activities. Our call for 2023 will issue later this year.

We are currently planning careers workshops for secondary schools with local role models, who will share their real life experiences of working in STEM. This is in response to research which indicated that students wanted to hear more about what it actually means to work in STEM and also what are the different routes into STEM. If your school would like to host such a career workshop, please get in touch.

A career in STEM can be diverse, engaging and can focus on solving some of the most challenging problems in the world today. It includes everything from climate change to pandemics and all sorts of people with all kinds of skills are needed for such work. Asked for her advice to students today in secondary school, Dr Máiréad Breathnach of Intel commented.

“Go for it! Remember it’s not necessary to have an exact dream job in mind, a strong sense of what interests you and a general plan is a good starting point. Your plans will most likely change several times as you learn, your interests evolve, and the world faces new challenges. Regardless of whether you apply for a narrow discipline straight out of leaving cert or choose a more general science or engineering qualification, the core skills will be similar. It will never be an issue to change your mind and the time you’ve spent is never wasted as you’ll have learned along the way. Lateral moves happen right through education and careers. The key thing is to back yourself, put down your first choice regardless of whether you think you’ll get it or not. The worst that can happen is you get another choice from your list, which in any case will most likely bring you to the same career path. Technology and science transform at a rapid pace, as do the plethora of careers to choose from. Yours might not exist today! Be fearless. There’s a quote from Arianna Huffing ton about how fearless is like a muscle and the more you exercise it, the more natural it becomes to not let fear run your life.”

Science Communities: Free Resources for Teachers

Science Communities was an outreach project run by Midlands Science in 2021, funded by the Science Foundation Ireland Discover Programme. This project aimed to build discussion and dialogue between community groups, citizens and various stakeholders and those involved in science and public policy. Through a series of public forums, it provided a way for people to understand the scientific process, explore how evidence is generated and how we can use a scientific mindset to make various decisions in our lives. This project was informed by international best practice in public trust in science, and included 4 public forums, 2 focus groups, research questionnaires as well as leadership training days provided to all participants by LIFT Ireland.

We have taken this series of forums as a project to develop further impactful outreach, and developed 12 individual videos covering a range of topics including food, alcohol, mental health, medication, viruses, vaccines and health choices. These 12 videos are suitable for TY students, students in senior cycle and members of the general public. We have also developed a short workbook to go along with these videos to help teachers easily incorporate them into their lesson plan. Participants from the RSCI, UCD, TCD, DCU, University of Ulster and a number of agencies provided clear and engaging overview of issues in science and we look forward to developing this project further. You can find the videos and associated discussion guide with further resources here.

Annual Report 2021

Midlands Science’s Annual Report is now available to read online and it details another year promoting science, technology, engineering and maths to a range of audiences across the midlands.  Over 18,000 people engaged with activities, workshops and events and there was a 9% increase in female participation compared to 2020. Research on activities also found that 72% felt that STEM was important to the future of the midlands and workshops saw participants increase their interest in science by 50%. A number of activities in 2021 were focused on the science associated with climate change and climate action and research on these activities found that 75% of participants felt a greater sense of agency about climate action as a result of activities. This is an unforeseen benefit and addresses the growing issue of climate anxiety.

In 2021, Midlands Science was supported in its work by a diverse range of partners and it is grateful for the confidence shown in its work. This support allowed us to reach more people in a more meaningful way and create an awareness of the value of science to society and the economy in the midlands. Commenting on 2021 activities Chairperson Dr Craig Slattery said; “I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone, especially so many young people for continuing to engage so wholeheartedly in science during 2021 with us. You are an inspiration to us all through your enthusiasm and curiosity.”

Midlands Science achieved Level 1 Social Return On Investment in 2021, showing our commitment to managing the social value we create. It means making better, informed choices about what we do, informed by evidence and data driven evaluation. In 2021, we received a Cathoirleach Award from Westmeath Council for our work and we also joined the European Science Engagement Association. EUSEA is an international knowledge-sharing platform and accelerator of innovation in the fields of public engagement with science.

View our Annual Report Here!