Mammals, Music and Much More – Science Week in the Midlands

The Midlands Science Festival returns in November to excite curiosity and encourage people from a variety of communities across the midlands to engage with science. Co-ordinated by Midlands Science, the festival has a variety of events running this year including a cold-water swim with Guinness World Record holder Nuala Moore, astronomy nights in Lough Boora with Midlands Astronomy Club and natural history art workshops with children’s author Anne Brusatte. There will also be the opportunity to learn about the science of rugby with Irish flyhalf Jack Carty.

The festival is delighted to welcome back Sunday Times bestselling author Steve Brusatte whose new book  “The Rise and Reign of the Mammals” is a delight for all those interested in animals and nature. There are also events exploring the science of climate change, cyanotype workshops [an early version of photography], sustainability workshops and book club events.

Jackie Gorman, CEO of Midlands Science commented “we are delighted to be bringing such a wide variety of events to the midlands this year for Science Week and there is literally something for everyone, we have events covering everything from astronomy to zoology and look forward to as many people as possible participating this year. Science Week is a unique chance for all for us to appreciate that science is all around us and informs so many things we do every day, so come along and explore where science might take you next.”

Dr Craig Slattery, Chairperson of Midlands Science commented “events this year in the midlands include everything from a cold water swim in Lough Ree to making your own soap in Mullingar to exploring the night’s sky in Offaly. This is a great opportunity for people of all ages to explore science and what science can mean to you in your life. This year’s theme for Science Week is being human and science has a key role to play in helping us all to understand what being human means now and what it might mean in the future.”

Other activities include resources and science workshops in Irish, online animations exploring what it means to be human and a special family event in association with the National Museum of Ireland and a Discovery Day in association with Integra. A special music performance with Bohemian Strings playing a variety of popular tunes and movie themes will explore what happens when we listen to music. This year, whether it’s the world of mammals, the game of rugby or the science of music, it’s all about what it means to be human right now and what being human will mean in the future for all of us. All events are free of charge and will be available for booking online from late September on  The Midlands Science Festival is supported by Science Foundation Ireland through the Discover Programme 2023 and a variety of corporate and philanthropic partners

Photo Caption – there’s something for all ages at the Midlands Science Festival this year, everything from science open days for children to movement workshops for active age groups. Ethan and Nathan Henson are pictured with their Great Granny Gladys Gorman, all of them are looking forward to Science Week in the midlands this year.

STEM Insights with Jenny Navan, Cpl

We caught up recently with Jenny Navan of Cpl and we are looking forward to working more with her in the coming year as we promote skills and careers in STEM.

Jenny is the Director of Cpls’ Science & Engineering recruitment team. Cpl is a total talent solutions organisation, part of the multinational OSI group. The Science and Engineering division have been operating in the Irish and international market for the past 25 years, and Jenny has worked in the team for 17 of those. Jenny has recruited for scientists and engineers, at all levels of operation, in pharmaceutical, biotechnology, food and clinical sector, and has developed a big interest in the sector as a result. Jenny has been involved in promoting studying STEM at second and tertiary level with Science Foundation Ireland and Midlands Science, sat on advisory committees for curriculum design at tertiary level, and has been involved in promoting science communication through the Alchemist Café and FameLab.

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

As Director within Cpl, I am active in engaging with companies who are considering expanding their operations within Ireland, as well as speaking with companies already operating within the island. Leading a team of specialist recruiters, who recruit for permanent and contingent labour, I have a great sense of the challenges and opportunities facing the STEM sector.

Unfortunately I knew nothing about what studying a science subject would entail, actually I had very narrow and misguided ideas about only dissecting frogs, or working in a lab doing “boring” things, so I never pursued it in secondary school, and it’s something I regret to this day. Which I why I’m so keen to promote studying STEM and the opportunities that are available careerwise.

Why is it important to promote greater engagement with STEM ?

While I can see broadly that STEM promotion and education is reaching more, there’s still many who don’t realise the opportunities studying STEM may provide, or just how important it is to have some literacy in the space

As we are all more focussed on sustainability these days, many of the jobs in the sustainability sector are based on STEM skills – is this something you have observed and do you think this will change in the future ?

Yes, there’s a lot of emphasis on sustainability, and STEM skills are so critical for that – not just because we need to design new technology or product – but because critical thinking, design thinking and problem solving are so integral to STEM – and that is what is so needed now to shift us globally to a more sustainable way of doing everything. This won’t change any time soon, but it will keep filtering through every element of society and part of the workforce.

What advice would you give to a young person considering a career in STEM ?

STEM is so broad, your options are endless, but it’s a career area that you can constantly learn in, evolve in, and travel the world, should you so wish!

Do you have a favourite science fact ?

There are more stars in the universe, than grains of sand on the planet