Making Science Outreach Accessible

Levina Reeves of Leadwell speaking at the Making Science Outreach Accessible event in UCD, supported by the Medtronic Foundation.

Best Practice Event Explores Making Science Outreach More Accessible

Many people find science interesting and engaging and others find it difficult to engage with topics which involve science. This reluctance comes from a variety of different reasons, ranging from the language used to the style of communication used by people who talk about science.

In addition to providing science outreach, Midlands Science has been working over the past year with a range of stakeholders to find ways to make science more accessible for everyone. This work involved producing a guide addressing issues such as Plain English Use and Storytelling and a range of other topics. 2,000 copies of the guide have been distributed to date and it has been the focus of a presentation at EUSEA, the European Association for Public Engagement with Science and at the Oireachtas Science and Technology Group.

“Our partnership with Midlands Science is about more than education—it’s about creating pathways for future STEM leaders, especially for students who wouldn’t typically have the opportunity,” said Heidi Jedlicka Halvarson, senior program manager, Medtronic Foundation. 

According to CEO of Midlands Science Jackie Gorman, it’s all about making it easier for everyone to engage with science. She commented “we developed this guide to make it easier for those who communicate science to make their outreach more engaging and accessible, suggesting small tweaks in practice that can make  a huge difference for the audiences.”

Today, a best practice event exploring the guide and its impact was held in the Conway Institute, UCD in association with University College Dublin and a wide range of people from industry, research and education attended this event and learnt more about ways to make their outreach more impactful in terms of reaching those least likely to engage with science. This work is supported by the Medtronic Foundation. The Medtronic Foundation partners to improve lives for underserved and underrepresented populations worldwide, and support communities where Medtronic employees live and give. They partner with leading equity-focused STEM organizations to address the root cause of persistent inequities by creating opportunity for economic advancement and improving lives through STEM education.

The Medtronic Foundation brings Medtronic employee volunteers, nonprofits, and communities together to remove barriers to achieving health, wellbeing and prosperity.  

Further information and copies of the guide are available by contacting Midlands Science on www.midlandsscience.ie

Exploring Engineering

Midlands Science promotes Engineers Week every year in the midlands through a range of school outreach activities for primary and secondary school students. This year we have our ongoing school outreach next week with a focus on engineering activities and also a special day in Athlone with primary and secondary schools in the Athlone Education centre.

This booked out day is being delivered in partnership with the Medtronic Foundation. This day brings together a number of students from secondary schools and primary schools, where they will learn about what it is like to work as an engineer and will undertake a number of hands on engineering activities with local Medtronic employee volunteers. They will also enjoy the engineering movie “Dream Big”, narrated by the aptly named Jeff Bridges!

Jackie Gorman of Midlands Science commented “the more we can encourage people to see the problem-solving and creativity at the heart of engineering, the more impact we can have in creating the amazing engineers of the future.”

Engineering is involved in so many everyday things and Midlands Science encourages teaches and parents to find creative ways to explore engineering at home with ordinary materials – everything from building marble runs with cereal boxes and marbles to building a tower with matchsticks and marshmallows can be a great way to start working with very young budding engineers. It doesn’t have to be very complicated to start with and it’s always lots of fun. There are lots of online resources to help with activities including on Midlands Science’s social media channels. More information on www.midlandsscience.ie