Midlands Science Provides Science Fun At Home

We are continuing to provide a range of engaging activities online via their social media channels while the schools remain closed due to the Covid19 pandemic.  Ever wondered about the science of floating, coins, fridges or sound ? Then this online content is for you, it’s about the science of all the things you can find at home.

Midlands Science CEO, Jackie Gorman said, ‘This is a very challenging time for pupils and parents as they work to navigate remote learning and being away from their peers and teachers. Several of our upcoming events have been postponed but we wanted to help those at home to continue to engage with science and learning by providing some activities online. Since we started doing this last week we have seen a really big appetite for it, especially from parents who are seeking out online resources, apps and games to keep their childrens’ minds engaged at home. People are also looking for activities to take their minds off any worries that children might have during this highly unsettling time.’

As part of the initiative to keep pupils learning in a fun and innovative way, Midlands Science provides a live science workshop with Christine Campbell from Anyone4Science on Thursdays at 11:00am on Facebook. Everything that children need to take part at home is listed on social media a few days in advance and there are no strange items or ingredients, the workshops include a variety of things to be found in the average kitchen. “Science at Home” with Dr. Dan Nickström of Maynooth University is an entertaining show that explores the science of everyday things at home and it’s put online every Tuesday at 12:00 pm. A recent episode explored the science of the fridge and let’s face it, all of those who are working from home are probably commuting a little bit more to the fridge!

Jackie Gorman continued, ‘Midlands Science is working to ensure we continue to provide resources for people to enjoy until we are at a point where we can return to bringing science to your classrooms once more.  We are also working on the circulation of regular newsletters which will list a number of carefully curated resources reflecting the curriculum and won’t create extra work for parents, who are already trying to work from home and keep children engaged with education. Huge thanks to Christine Campbell and Dr Dan Nickström for responding to the changed situation so quickly and providing such great resources. We’d like to thank our various funders for their support for this online transitioning of activities in the current situation and we wish everyone well at this time.’

Whatever the Weather!

Recently many of us found ourselves reading a lot about the many storms that we have experienced here in Ireland! In fact, it’s hard to remember back to a time when we didn’t know what the weather was potentially going to be like day by day and hour by hour!

That’s why, on March 23, we celebrate World Meteorological Day and the World Meteorological Organization, an international organisation that collects data from all over the world to help us better understand the weather and its impact on our lives. This organisation also celebrates its 70th anniversary in 2020.

Talking about the different types of weather can provide exciting starting points for learning. Exploring the concepts of weather offers many fantastic opportunities for maths and science alike. Weather is a great learning tool because it can lead to many opportunities for exploration and supports children’s understanding of the world around them.

Pictured here is the storm glass which was popular in the 1800’s as a way to predict the weather. It consisted of a liquid in a sealed tube of glass and the crystals within the tube in the liquid were believed to be linked to the weather. It was made popular by Admiral Robert Fitzroy, captain of the HMS Beagle, the ship made famous by the famous voyage made by Charles Darwin as part of his exploration of the new science of evolution. But they don’t actually work – sorry !! They remain however a curiosity and are a popular ornament and desk item that give us an insight into how people in the past tried to understand the weather.

Why not take a photograph which is related to weather or climate or draw or paint a picture that illustrate what you think of when you hear the word weather! Send us a photo of your work of art and we will feature them on the page.

#WorldMetDay

#meteorology

#climateaction

#climatechange

 

Thoughts on World Book Day!

World Book Day in Ireland takes place today in Ireland, Thursday 5th March. Over the last 23 years, World Book Day has become firmly established as Ireland’s biggest annual event promoting the enjoyment of books and reading. I caught up with Midlands Science CEO, Jackie Gorman who is a published poet and avid reader (as can be seen from one of her many shelves in the image) to hear her views on the importance of reading and what we can do to encourage it from an early age…

Creating a love of reading for pleasure in children is so important. It encourages a love of learning, provides fuel for their imaginations and provides escapism. What are some of the other scientifically proven benefits to reading and starting at an early age? 

Many studies show that toddlers and young children who are read to every day have a larger vocabulary than those who aren’t read to. Reading enhances a child’s vocabulary and it can help them understand how to read and write, but reading aloud to children also helps them to understand different topics about the world and everyday life. As we grow up, reading can become part of our toolkit to deal with stress. In 2009, scientists at the University of Sussex studied how different activities lowered stress by measuring heart rate and muscle tension. Reading a book for just six minutes lowered people’s stress levels by 68 percent—a stronger effect than going for a walk, drinking a cup of tea or coffee or listening to music. Reading can also help you live longer. A team at Yale University followed more than 3600 adults over the age of 50 for 12 years. They found that people who read books for 30 minutes a day lived nearly two years longer than those who read magazines or newspapers. The benefits of reading books include a longer life in which to read more !!

Today’s reality includes a lot more technology than when this important day was first launched. Some children now often prefer to play on an iPad than get lost in a good book. What can we do to encourage a love of reading?

Encouraging reading is important and there are lots of things to consider. Ensure that your children see you reading is the first thing. It doesn’t matter if it’s the newspaper, a cookery book, a computer manual, magazine – anything is good. Lead by example. Encourage children to join in – ask a child to read out a recipe for you as you cook, or the TV listings when you are turning on the  TV. Give books or book tokens as presents and visit the local library together on a regular basis, and enjoy spending time choosing new books. Keep reading together. There are lots of books that both adults and young people can enjoy – The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon, the Harry Potter series, or The Life of Pi by Yann Martel. Read books you can all talk about. There are also great Irish language books now for children such as Harry Potter – Harry Potter agus an Órchloch ! I’m resding  An Leon, An Bandraoi agus An Prios Éadaigh myself at the moment, an Irish translation of CS Lewis’s The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.

Aside from escaping the pressures of the modern day are there other proven benefits to reading for adults?

Reading can change us a person. A University of Toronto research team asked 166 people to fill out questionnaires regarding their emotions and key personality traits, based on the widely used inventory which measures extraversion, conscientiousness, agreeableness, emotional stability/neuroticism, and openness. Half of the group read Anton Chekhov’s short story The Lady with the Toy Dog, about a man who travels to a resort and has an affair with a married woman. The other half of the group read a similar nonfiction version presented as a report from divorce proceedings. After, everyone answered the same personality questions they’d answered before—and many of the fiction readers’ responses had significantly changed. They saw themselves differently after reading about others’ fictional experience. The nonfiction readers didn’t undergo this change in self-reflection.

The aim of World Book Day is to celebrate authors, books, illustrators and of course reading! What are some of the books on your current ‘to-be-read’ list?

I have a pile in my living room which are to be tackled over the next few months ! Things in Jars by Jess Kidd, Last Witnesses by Svetlana Alexievich, The Sixteen Trees of the Somme by Lars Mytting, Mama’s Last Hug by Frans De Waal and Elmet by Fiona Mozley are my immediate priorities. I also use Audible a lot when I walk every day and I’m listening to The Secret History read by the author Donna Tartt at the moment.

 Can you tell us about your favourite science book(s)?

The Flamingo’s Smile by Stephen Jay Gould, The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat by Oliver Sacks, The Emperor Of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee and Silent Spring by Rachel Carson.

What is your favourite science fact, if you can narrow it down to one?!

Answering the question why the sky is blue is my favourite thing because it’s a question we’ve all asked since childhood. I also like that it was research by an Irishman John Tyndall  which explored and solved this question. He used a simple glass tube to simulate the sky, with a white light at one end to represent the sun. He discovered that when he gradually filled the tube with smoke the beam of light appeared to be blue from the side but red from the far end. Tyndall realised that the colour of the sky is a result of light from the sun scattering around particles in the upper atmosphere, in what is now known as the “Tyndall effect”. He thought that the light scattered off particles of dust or water vapour in the atmosphere, like the smoke particles in the tube, but it’s now known that the light scatters off the molecules of the air itself. Tyndall knew that white light was made up of a whole rainbow of coloured light and thought that the blue light appeared because it was more likely to scatter off the particles. We now know that this is because it has a much shorter wavelength than red light and is much more easily scattered, so to our eyes the sky looks blue.

 

 

Dr. Mindflip comes to Athlone for Engineer’s Week

Midlands Science is pleased to announce that ‘Dr. Mindflip’s Ultimate Learning Experience’ will be cruising into Athlone as part of the annual Engineer’s Week celebrations which will be taking place across the Midlands in the coming weeks.

Engineers Week is a week-long festival of nationwide activities celebrating the world of engineering in Ireland and events kick off on February 29th in a number of schools, libraries and other venues around the country. Dr. Mindflip’s Ultimate Learning Experience is aimed towards secondary students and was developed in partnership with Dr. Dan Nickström from The Department of Experimental Physics at Maynooth University and a large team of artists, designers, musicians, gamers and actors.

When asked what to expect, Dan said, “Dr Mindflip’s Ultimate Learning Experience is a light-hearted and educational choose-your-own-adventure-game which takes place in a specially designed caravan that’s kitted out to allow participants to explore the many aspects of physics in a fun and unique way. It’s funded by Science Foundation Ireland and the Institute of Physics and takes a gaming approach to learning so each choice that people make determines what will happen next. I am delighted to be coming to the Aidan Heavy Library for a drop-in event in Athlone in March and look forward to meeting as many people as possible to join in the Engineer’s Week celebrations in the Midlands for 2020. And don’t worry if you know absolutely nothing about physics, all you need is a curious mind!”

In 2019, there were over 850 Engineers Week activities organised in the community. The aim of each event is to positively showcase engineering as a rewarding and creative career choice to children in all communities. This fantastic, free Midlands Science engineering experience is being delivered in Co. Westmeath in partnership with the Aidan Heavy Library in Athlone and it will take place there from 11am until 4pm on March 4th. Each session can facilitate six people at a time and each session lasts twenty minutes. The event is suitable for ages 13 and up.

Mae McLynn of the Aidan Heavy Library said, ‘We are really looking forward to hosting this Midlands Science event and to welcoming Dr. Mindflip’s Ultimate Learning Experience to Athlone. The library is always looking for ways to encourage more enthusiasm and interest in both engineering and science as future career options amongst second level pupils and this is the ideal way to do exactly that in a fun and interactive way.’

This is a drop in event. Please contact Mae McLynn in the Aidan Heavey Public Library, Athlone, Co. Westmeath

090 6442157 for further information.

Photo:

Dr. Dan Nickström from Maynooth University at a recent Midlands Science Experience Engineering event with Westmeath students.

 

 

 

Bringing science to your classroom…

There was great excitement in Clonaslee, Co. Laois earlier this week when Declan Holmes of Science Ireland visited the pupils in the local national school for a full day of science fun, experiments and discovery. These interactive workshops are an ideal way to demonstrate to young children the diversity of science in an interactive and easy to understand way.

Jackie Gorman, CEO of Midlands Science commented

‘Science helps children to answer some really tough questions but delivering exciting workshops like this to schools enables us to make this happens in much more entertaining ways. It is so important for us to try to inspire the youngest of minds and to allow them to see science as something fun and interesting and not something that is too difficult or complicated. We were delighted to kick start our school outreach for 2020 this week and we are now fully booked for the remainder of the year which shows that the appetite for science in schools has really increased in recent times.’

More science education outreach is taking place in Midlands schools in the coming weeks..next stop Westmeath!

Wildlife science with Dublin Zoo!

Watching excited young faces meeting some of the fantastic presenters and seeing them learn so many new things…these are some of our happiest memories from this year’s Midlands Science Festival. Science helps children to answer some really tough questions but Science Week itself enables us to make this happen in much more entertaining ways.

One of our key goals is to help primary school children understand that science is all around them, every day and in all kinds of ways. Science is a part of daily life from cooking and playing sports to watching the rain or enjoying the sunshine. This year we were delighted to welcome our friends from the outreach team from Dublin Zoo. Children learned about biofacts such as skulls, skins and other interesting specimens and explored the science of wildlife and conservation.

We want to encourage young pupils to collect information, ask more questions, observe and draw their own conclusions because science can really teach children to form their own opinions. It allows them to experiment and realize that not everything has to work out perfectly all the time. It makes them query how the world works, sparks ideas and helps them to find solutions to everyday problems in the most simplified of ways.

 

#believeinscience

The Reptiles arrive in Longford!

Longford pupils were treated to a visit from the Reptile Zoo Village today in Ballymahon library as part of this years Midlands Sceince Festival and national Science Week. Scorpions, snakes, stick insects and their minders having been coming to the Midlands for the past few years to educate young pupils about science and it is always a huge hit!

Science performer Declan Holmes of Science Ireland also visited Longford this week for a unique show exploring everything from the science of rockets to vuvuzelas to Darth Vader’s voice. This took place in Longford County Library and was full of enthusiastic young students from surrounding areas.

We also had an inter-active workshop with artists Tina Claffey and Caroline Conway exploring the life and legacy of Mary Ward, one of Ireland’s first female scientists, earlier this week in Granard, Longford.

Superhero Science for Laois!

Dr. Barry Fitzgerald visited Portlaoise branch library this week and we were delighted to have him back for this years science festival where he delivered ‘secrets of superhero science’ workshops to Laois pupils .

Dr. Barry Fitzgerald is a superhero scientist, speaker, author, and enthusiastic science communicator. His research interests include particle processing, responsible innovation, science education, scientific outreach and communication, and superhero science. For the latter, Barry aims to identify the science and technology of today that could lead to superpowers tomorrow.

Barry is the author of the popular science books “Secrets of Superhero Science” and “Secret Science of Santa Claus”. His latest book “How to Build an Iron Man Suit” is out from October 2019.

Barry said, ‘I first presented workshops as part of Science Week in 2015 and am delighted to be back in the Midlands to celebrate science again this year. Several science themed events will take place around the country this November, providing a wonderful opportunity to explore and learn about the world of science and technology that surrounds us and there really is something for people of all ages. It is a really valuable platform for researchers and those working in scientific communication to encourage the next generation to consider science as a subject and future career option and an opportunity to inspire young people to engage with science in a fun and exciting way. ‘

Foodoppi Fun-Filled Day!

It really was science fun madness in Offaly County Library, Tullamore today for Foodoppi’s Molecular Gastronomy Live Event!

TV Chefs and food educators Louise Lennox and Aisling Larkin of Foodoppi  expertly presented shows exploring food and it was exciting, fun and  fast-paced and gave the young audiences an opportunity to see food become experiments you can eat! The show directly links to the primary science curriculum integrating learning objectives from sections such as Living Things, Energy and Force and Materials and Change. Louise Lennox is one of Ireland’s leading chefs, broadcasters and food writers. Having featured in a number of popular television and radio shows for over 15 years, she is best known as the chef who is “full of personality” from the hit television series, The Restaurant. Aisling Larkin is tv chef, a busy mum of 3, food media broadcaster, feeding and mindful eating coach. Aisling appears each week on Virgin Media One’s Six O Clock Show teaching the nation her creative and functional & umami filled family-friendly recipes.

The smiles say it all!

The Midlands Science Festival is a real celebration of science and features something for everyone to enjoy.

We are delighted to be in our seventh year with the festival and in planning this year’s programme, we secured some really new and different events and activities as well as bringing back some favourites from previous years, like the ever popular reptiles and dinosaurs.

As always we have partnered with a number of organisations including all Midlands libraries to create opportunities which aim to excite students about science. It always makes such a difference to see children enjoying the science bit as well as watching them getting curious and asking lots of questions. We were at one event today in a school and it was wonderful to hear so many of the pupils talking about the Discovery day that their parents had taken them to at the weekend which shows that word is spreading and people are becoming all the more aware that science really is everywhere 🙂

Remember you can contact us about science events during the rest of the year too! We will come to you!

#stem #believeinscience