Some highlights from Athlone…

The opportunity to explore the science of Chernobyl in Athlone Library, space exploration at the Rocketeers Roadshow with Simon Watt and Harry Potter science were just some of the exciting experiences which took place in Westmeath during Science Week last week.

Jackie Gorman, Director of the Midlands Science Festival said,

‘We were delighted through support from Science Foundation Ireland and a number of key partnerships to bring a number of exciting science events to the Midlands again this year. We were delighted to again be working with partners such as the local heritage offices, companies, schools and libraries. Most of the event tickets were sold in advance so it was fantastic to witness the excitement that people anticipated. As Hermione Granger said “when in doubt, go to the library !” We hope that people enjoyed the events in their local area and we are already looking forward to an even bigger Science Week in the Midlands next year.’

The festival brings sciences out into the cultural mainstream in a more accessible, creative and impactful way. It was a wonderful opportunity for science enthusiasts to see what’s new and innovative in the world of science and technology. The large public turnout again this year showed there is a great appetite for this type of regional educational event and one of the most encouraging factors was the diversity of the audiences attracted during the week.

Jackie Gorman continued,

‘The Midlands Science Festival itself aims to engage and encourage people of all ages and backgrounds to become leaders of tomorrow. It encourages experimentation and collaboration, inspiring students to solve real-world problems. We work to promote science throughout the year so keep an eye out for what we have coming next!’

 

 

Photos: Pupils from Athlone exploring the Science of Harry Potter with Anyone 4 Science in  Athlone Library during the annual Midlands Science Festival as part of Science Week 2019

Marty Jopson Show a Huge Success!

We were thrilled to have science performer and BBC One Show’s resident scientist, Marty Jopson partaking in this year’s Midlands Science Festival this week in Co. Laois. Marty presented to a large audience of pupils from Clonaslee Community College and the surrounding primary schools and was an astounding success.

Marty said,

‘Science is not an optional extra in our 21st century society as pretty much everything around us has a basis in science or engineering. My job and the work of other presenters at the Midland Science Festival is to enthuse the public and give them a look into that science, since if you don’t understand what its all about how can you really participate in our modern democratic society? That’s the serious answer, but really its all about fun. Science is just cool and interesting and that is generally what drives me to do what I do.’

Whirling into Wednesday!!

It’s Wednesday so it’s the science of water with Waterways Ireland, Life sciences career talks, distributing 1000 trees and the fantastic Science of Harry Potter workshops. There will be no foolish wand-waving or silly incantations in this class. As such, I don’t expect many of you to appreciate the subtle science and exact art that is potion-making !! #science #scienceweek #believeinsciende

Teamwork Tuesday!

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

It really is all go today across the Midlands for Science Week today! We are starting out in Tullamore for a careers talk with Jazz Pharma before heading to the library for our spectacular Foodoppi shows! Then we go across to the students in Tullamore College for some climate change science and we are really excited about that!

There is plenty happening in Laois also with Marty Jopsons ‘Invisible worlds’ show and ‘The Secrets of superhero science’ is also taking place today..Moving down to Longford we have Mary Wards’ World of Wonder;  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.  And in Athlone, we ‘Travel to Chernobyl’ for a unique event which will explore the accident at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant which took place on April 26th, 1986.

#stem #believeinscience #science week

 

Making Physics Fun!

Dr Mindflip rolled into the Midlands on Saturday for Science Week and returned again today to some very lucky students in Co. Offaly! Dr MindFlip’s Ultimate Learning Experience has been made by a team of artists, filmmakers, scriptwriters, designers and scientists who describe it as a light-hearted and educational exploration into the laws of physics and science, created specifically for Science Week and it really is a physics outreach project with a difference!

Dan Nickstrom, team memeber, said,

‘Dr Mindflips Ultimate Learning Experience is designed to teach anyone about the wonders of physics in a fun and interactive way and it was amazing to see kids (and the big kids!) in the midlands really immersing themselves in topics that are often dismissed as being too complicated or difficult for the average person on the street.’

Anyone 4 Science in the Midlands?

Christine Campbell from Anyone 4 Science has been coming to the region for the past few years during Science Week to provide a range of different fun, hands-on science, engineering and maths activities for local students of all ages. We were delighted to see Christine in the region again this week for our open Discovery day which was held in Tullamore as part of the annual Midlands Science Festival.

Christine patiently explained and demonstrated to children who came in their droves, how to make their own ice-cream. And the best part was; the eating of it afterwards. So many children told us all about the ingredients that were needed and talked about how they were going to make their own ice-cream from now on!!

#believeinscience @anyone4science

Excitement is building in Laois!

Every year we want the festival to ignite curiosity and let people discover that science and technology can offer amazing opportunities, often in ways that they may not realise. This year’s calendar of activity is bigger and better than ever. We are delighted to announce some of the key events which will take place in Laois this year including Dr Mindflip workshops, science fun with the Rediscovery Centre, exploring the archaeology of the Vikings with the National Museum of Ireland, Dublin zoo workshops, exciting science journey with Marty Jopson, the BBC One Show’s resident scientist and lots more.

Suzanne Carroll of Portlaoise Library said,

‘We are really pleased to once again be collaborating with the Midlands Science Festival team to deliver a range of exciting and innovative events in Laois during Science Week 2019. We want to continue to ensure that the library is more than just a place where people can borrow books. We want it to be a place where people can avail of free, informative talks and workshops in a friendly, community setting. The Midlands Science Festival provides plenty of opportunities for this across the region and in Laois we are looking forward to showcasing an educational outreach event from Dublin Zoo and exploring the secrets of Superhero Science in Portlaoise library but there are lots of other things happening so check out for more details on how you can celebrate science this November.’

We should try to stimulate curiosity …..

As Science Week gets underway, we have been talking to a number of Midlands people who are working in science and technology careers. This week we caught up with Colin Scally, a Tullamore native who attended one of the schools we work closely with here in the Midlands.  He is now living in London..Here is what Colin had to say…

Colin, you are originally from the Midlands and a past pupil of Tullamore College, what are you now working at?

I’ve been based over in London for the past few years and worked across a couple of different jobs and industries. Currently I’m working for a technology consultancy as a software developer and consultant. I’m helping a fintech startup to build out their product – a system to help small businesses with a range of accountancy features and finance options. It’s a great role as we get to really help bring them on a technology journey and realise their ambitions.

Can you tell us what led you into this role and a bit about your academic journey?

Honestly, I’ve followed a somewhat non-traditional route into this industry. I originally studied law, and then specialised in analytical criminology. I worked for years in cyber risk management and financial fraud analysis. But I got to the point where my role was getting closer to management consulting and I wanted something more technical. So I decided to leave my job and retrain for a few months, before taking on a role as a software developer. I don’t at all regret my previous roles, as I gained a lot of consultancy skills that I still use every day. The days of a software developer sitting all day typing with their headphones on is over – businesses want our technical knowledge but also our ability to consult and work with various stakeholders across their teams!

What are some of the more exciting science and engineering jobs that you are seeing now or you see for the future?

Always a difficult question to answer without straying into buzzword territory! In terms of technology, the whole ‘Cloud’ area is hardly novel any more, but whilst a few years ago it was still thought of as hype, today it’s a core part of engineering for more and more businesses. The big providers (AWS, Azure, GCP) are evolving their platforms and delivering new services at a frightening rate, meaning there is a growing demand in cloud systems engineering.

There’s also a lot of talk about the potential in robotics, much of which is still firmly in the hype cycle! But I would expect more and more practical applications of robotics to emerge in the near future, and this will call for people with a range of technical and scientific skills from materials science and plastics, to software development, to AI and cognitive science.

Why are events like the Midlands Science Festival so vital for encouraging young people to consider a future in a science career?


Personally, when I was still in school I struggled to understand the range of careers that were out there in the various scientific fields. Schools do great work in helping with career guidance, but they can only do so much and their advice is often theoretical and focused on what to do at university. Events like Midland Science Festival can do brilliant work by making young people more aware of career paths that exist and what it is actually like to work in a scientific field. These events are also a fantastic way to allow young people to see and experience science in ways they would never get a chance to otherwise.

How can we make science more fun and engaging for young people do you think?

I think it’s absolutely key to make young people ask two questions “how does this work?” and “why does this happen?” We should try to stimulate curiosity and make young people arrive at these questions themselves, motivating them to dig deeper and look for answers. The easiest way to do this is probably to get ‘hands-on’ with science as much as possible – show young people some of the outcomes and products of scientific application and give them the space to explore and question them.

Something for everyone at the Midlands Science Festival!

As the upcoming annual Midlands Science Festival and national Science Week grow closer, local development agency Midlands Science is gearing up to provide an array of incredible events and science fun across the Midlands. Science Week which is managed by Science Foundation Ireland’s (SFI) Discover Programme has been in existence since the mid-1990s and has grown to around 800 events per year.
The Midlands Science Festival, which begins on November 9th, celebrates science in the region with original programming that includes lively debates and lectures, film productions, hands-on workshops and interactive demonstrations for people of all ages. All things science will be explored through shows, demonstrations and talks to advance our understanding and appreciation of everything from astronomy to zoology.

This year’s festival includes a family open day, Travels in Chernobyl, the Science of Harry Potter, Cancer Causes and Cures Myth Busting, National Museum of Ireland outreach events and much more. Popular activities such as science knitting patterns for local knitters and a Science Festival Book Club for adult and younger readers are back again this year. Exploring everything from invisible ink to Darth Vader’s voice, the Midlands Science Festival is a unique opportunity to explore science through a diverse programme of interactive events, workshops and shows. This year’s festival also includes a strong focus on climate change issues and sustainability and a specially curated ASD appropriate event. Supported by Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) and a number of corporate and academic partners, this is the seventh year of the festival.

Dr. Ruth Freeman, Director of Science for Society in SFI commented,
‘Science Week is SFI’s key annual events which aims to foster a greater understanding of the value of science to society and to increase the numbers of young people studying science and related fields. It gives people a chance to hear from national and global experts who have the ability to engage in conversations about science and technology in an inspiring and motivational way. Each festival offer an exciting line-up of programming, with a number of influential performers and leaders in their fields sharing their expertise and inviting audiences to join conversations that should encourage us all to be champions of science and curiosity. SFI is pleased to continue its support of Midlands Science in its efforts to engage with as many people in the region with science fields.’

The Midlands Science Festival itself aims to engage and encourage people of all ages and backgrounds to become leaders of tomorrow. It encourages experimentation, collaboration, inspiring students to solve real-world problems. This is the first year that 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 Marty Jopson of BBC’s The One Show, celebrity Chef Louise Lennox exploring the science of gastronomy and Simon Watt who has regularly featured on Channel 4 and Discovery with his science programmes.

Jackie Gorman, Director of the Midlands Science Festival said,
‘We are delighted through support from Science Foundation Ireland and a number of key partnerships to be bringing a number of exciting science events to the Midlands again this year. We will be exploring everything from climate change to the science of Harry Potter, from bog bodies to quantum physics. Science Week is the essence of diversity. We have always strived to link the science issues we explore in our outreach work with everyday life and experiences and this year, we are more than ever conscious of this, as climate change is a national theme for Science Week. This is an issue which increasingly affects all aspects of our lives. Science can help us understand what is happening and also provide us with the information to make different choices and pursue solutions in the future. We are delighted to again be working with partners such as the local heritage offices, local partnership companies and libraries. As Hermione Granger said “when in doubt, go to the library !” We hope that people will take the opportunity to attend some of the events which we have programmed for this year, they are all free and feature world class experts who are passionate about science and sharing that passion with others.’

The festival takes sciences out of scholarly journals and traditional laboratories into the cultural mainstream in a more accessible, creative and impactful way. It a wonderful opportunity for science enthusiasts to see what’s new and innovative in the world of science and technology. It is also the perfect chance for someone who is just tipping their toe into science for the first time, to participate in over 100 hands-on activities and live performances by science explorers, communicators and experts whose mission it is to educate, entertain, inform and inspire.

Jackie Gorman continued,
‘Every year we want the festival to ignite curiosity and let people discover that science and technology can offer amazing opportunities, often in ways that they may not realise. This year’s calendar of activity is bigger and better than ever. We are delighted to announce an extra element to our 2019 programming which includes a free, Discovery Day in Co. Offaly. This event will allow families to immerse themselves in a wide array of exciting and meaningful science experiences, such as Dr Mindflip’s Ultimate Learning Experience, star gazing with the Exploration Dome, snakes and spiders with the Reptile Zoo, Dinosaurs with Dale Treadwell, Star War science and lots more! Keep a close eye on www.midlandsscience.ie for booking details and information which will be added over the coming weeks and please join us in celebrating science in the Midlands this November.’

A Taste of Science Week…

This year’s exciting programme, which will be our 7th Midlands Science Festival, includes a packed variety of engaging shows, exhibitions and hands-on fun demonstrations in classrooms and theatres alike!

Supported by Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) and a number of corporate and academic partners, here is some detail of the events we are planning for Science Week 2019; A family open day, Travels in Chernobyl, the Science of Harry Potter, Cancer Causes and Cures Myth Busting, National Museum of Ireland outreach events and much more. Popular activities such as science knitting patterns for local knitters and a Science Festival Book Club for adult and younger readers are back again this year. Exploring everything from invisible ink to Darth Vader’s voice, the Midlands Science Festival is a unique opportunity to explore science through a diverse programme of interactive events, workshops and shows.

This year’s festival also includes a strong focus on climate change issues and sustainability and a specially curated ASD appropriate event.

Jackie Gorman, Director of the Midlands Science Festival said, ‘The festival will allow people of all ages to discover something new, participate in a large number of hands-on science and technology activities and see a whole host of live performances by science enthusiasts, experts and communicators. We hope to bring together a large number of interested participants including researchers and science communicators, science students and younger children together with their families and the general public from all over the Midlands.’