Engineer’s Week celebrations in the Midlands

Engineers Week is a week-long festival of nationwide activities celebrating the world of engineering in Ireland and events kicked off on February 29th in a number of schools, libraries and other venues around the country.  The annual event is coordinated on a national basis by Engineers Ireland’s STEPS programme – funded by Science Foundation Ireland, the Department of Education and Skills and industry leaders ARUP, ESB, Intel and TII.

Midlands Science was delighted to host a range of activities across the region this week to celebrate engineering as a profession and to demonstrate to students of all ages just how much engineering is all around us in so much of what we do in everyday life. Dr Mindflip’s Ultimate Learning Experience is a fun, educational exploration kitted out to allow participants to explore the world and history of quantum physics.  It takes place in a specially designed caravan which rolled into Athlone as part of the annual Engineer’s Week celebrations. Funded by Science Foundation Ireland and the Institute of Physics this takes a gaming approach to learning so each choice that people make determines what will happen next. We had a great day at the Aidan Heavy Library in Athlone with Dr. Mindflip and look forward to seeing this event back in the Midlands again soon.

In advance of Engineers Week, Midlands also teamed up with a range of local and national partners recently to host a special week of career workshops, hands on project work and inspirational talks from companies such as ORS, Robotics and Drives, Shay Murtagh, Waterways Ireland, Steripack, and Cpl resources. A number of transition year students from Coláiste Mhuire Mullingar participated in the week to ‘Experience Engineering’ which also focused on other various key learning aspects such as, CV preparation, interview skills and internship opportunities.

Gillian Murtagh of Shay Murtagh Precast Concrete commented,

‘Shay Murtagh was delighted to recently team up with Midlands Science to help inspire local students and enable them to make that all-important connection between in-class learning and real-world engineering careers. We are passionate about our role of encouraging the workforce of the future and while we are all seeing plenty of new job opportunities and career paths for graduates within the engineering profession, the skills shortages continue. Therefore, we must all work together to build awareness and of the industry and showcase to students the vast diversity of both science and engineering fields in a practical and easy to understand manner and events such as this provide the ideal opportunity to do so here in our own region.’

For something a little bit different this year, Midlands Science arranged for engineering films to be shown in secondary schools across the region. Students had the chance to watch inspiring productions such as ‘Dream Big’ which uses a series of surprising human stories to expose the hidden world behind the most exciting inventions and structures across the world.

The aim of each Engineers Week event is to positively showcase engineering as a rewarding and creative career choice to children in all communities. In 2019, there were over 850 activities organised in the community. Midlands Science also presented a hands-on, interactive workshop for a number of students in association with Edenderry Library in Co. Offaly. This workshop gave students from St. Mary’s Secondary School and Oaklands Community College in Edenderry a chance to explore the worlds of electricity, magnetism and semiconductor devices (the building blocks of computers) in a hands-on and relaxed environment. The workshops were delivered by Dr. Dan Nickström from Maynooth University Dept. of Experimental Physics and we are looking forward to lots more fun and engaging events with Dan in the weeks ahead.

#EngineersWeek

@engineerireland

#STEPS

 

 

 

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.

 

 

Electricity and Engineering in Edenderry!

Yesterday we were delighted to present a hands-on, interactive workshop for a number of students in association with Edenderry Library in Co. Offaly. This event was an early part of a programme of activities which is being rolled out across the region by Midlands Science during national Engineers Week which takes place nationally from this Saturday.

Engineers Week promotes engineering and the importance of the profession to pupils all over Ireland and the aim of each event is to positively showcase engineering as a rewarding and creative career choice to people in all communities.

This workshop gave students from St. Mary’s Secondary School and Oaklands Community College in Edenderry a chance to explore the worlds of electricity, magnetism and semiconductor devices (the building blocks of computers) in a hands-on and relaxed environment.

The workshops were delivered by Dr. Dan Nickström from Maynooth University Dept. of Experimental Physics and we are looking forward to lots more fun and engaging events with Dan in the weeks ahead.

Time to Quit!

Today we celebrate National No Smoking Day in Ireland. The purpose of No Smoking Day is to campaign for greater awareness about the health dangers associated with smoking. Smoking is banned fully in indoors workplaces, healthcare facilities, education facilities, public transport, enclosed public places, bars, and restaurants and according to statistics, public opinion is in favour on the bans on smoking so ‘No Smoking Day’ is part of a massive anti-tobacco campaign.

Here’s Jackie who works for Midlands Science with her mother Gladys who was a smoker. She gave them up over 40 years ago and is fine health and turns 83 this summer. She worked in Ericsson in Athlone and in this photo, she is holding a glass Viking she received from the company at the time, as an acknowledgement of her giving up smoking as part of the company’s healthy employeee campaign. She still talks about what a difference giving up smoking made to her life. Here’s a little about the #science of quitting smoking.

https://www.livescience.com/43293-quit-smoking-tips.html

#nosmokingday

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.

 

 

 

Mullingar Students ‘Experience Engineering’ with Midlands Science

Midlands Science teamed up with a range of local and national partners recently to host a special week of career workshops, hands on project work and inspirational talks from companies such as ORS, Robotics and Drives, Shay Murtagh, Waterways Ireland, Steripack, and Cpl resources. A number of transition year students from Coláiste Mhuire Mullingar participated in the week Experience Engineering which also focused on other various key learning aspects such as, CV preparation, interview skills and internship opportunities.

A primary objective for Midlands Science is the development and implementation of awareness-raising initiatives designed to increase science capital in the region. For this to succeed, there needs to be a more joined-up approach within the many sectors of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education. This includes the sharing of expertise, participation in out-of-school science learning contexts, for example how often a young person participates in informal science learning contexts and continuing to highlight the message that STEM subjects are relevant for everyone. With this in mind, participants were briefed and given the opportunity to work  as part of a project team which involved planning ideas and looking at the diversity of the field and the types of engineers that would be needed for specific engineering projects.

John Brennan, Managing Director of ORS in Mullingar commented,

“Engineers and surveyors are in increasing demand in Ireland and a supply of talented graduates from both professions is fundamental for our social and economic future. ORS was delighted to support and participate in this innovative initiative to increase knowledge and understanding of the world of engineering and surveying and encourage more of our future generation to consider them as potential third level and career choices. By setting the students a hands-on challenge we hopefully encouraged them to really think about how vast engineering and surveying can be, to get creative and have fun while at the same time learn about how to find solutions to the many urban and environmental challenges that we face in society today.’

Science and engineering fields play an ever-increasing role in Ireland’s future within the global economy. Continued focus on education and training in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) will open doors to today’s students in jobs they might not yet have even heard of. Change is happening all around us at an alarming pace in workplaces, the economy and our everyday and most of this change is driven by developments in STEM.

Jackie Gorman, CEO of Midlands Science said, ‘Through specially designed programmes like ‘Experience Engineering’  we are aiming to ensure that as many young people as possible understand the economic, cultural and environmental impact that engineering can have. We are most grateful to all of our partners who helped to make this programme so worthwhile and with their assistance and support, we hope to be in a position to continue to provide opportunities like this to more students around the region into the future focusing on other sectors. Pauline Nally, Business Development Executive with Midlands Science played a key role in the development of this pilot, based on feedback from students that they faced significant difficulties accessing STEM based work experiences which would help them to decide on college courses and careers for the future.’

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!

Careers Advice for Kilbeggan Students with PM Group

Midlands Science is proud to deliver career talks to as many schools as possible in the Midlands to demonstrate in a hands on way why a career in science, technology, engineering or maths is a good choice. We were pleased to welcome Mick Lynam from PM Group to speak to students in Kilbeggan during Science Week. PM Group manage the design, construction and commissioning of high-tech facilities for the world’s leading pharma, food, data centre and med tech companies.

Mick Lynam, Director of Project Delivery at PM Group said,

‘PM Group was delighted to recently team up with local development company, Midlands Science to help inspire Midlands students and hopefully build enthusiasm in them to consider science and engineering as possible future subject choices. Engineers in particular are in high demand currently and we are seeing plenty of new job opportunities for graduates within the engineering sector but the skills shortages continue. Therefore, we must all work together to build awareness and promote the industry and increase the understanding about the important need for engineers in Ireland today and into the future.’

Jackie Gorman, CEO of Midlands Science said,

‘We are really grateful to PM Group and all of our partners and mentors from life sciences organisations and technology companies, as well as from research centres and academia for their time and guidance on careers in these areas. Our career talks are aimed at Transition Year students, with a view to encouraging them to keep on STEM subjects, but are also available for Senior Cycle students who are still unsure about third level options and preferences.’

Google workshops a great success!

We were delighted to run a number of Google CS first taster workshops again during this year’s festival across the region and these workshops were based on real world themes aiming to engage students of varying interests – Storytelling, Fashion & Design, Sports, Animation , Art, Music & Sound, Game Design, Friends and Social Media. With the help of their teachers, students availed of the google online CS Education to develop their Computer Science skills.

Claire Conneely of Google’s Computer Science Education team (EMEA) said,

‘Google is pleased to once again collaborate with Midlands Science to provide computer science outreach for young people during Science Week 2019. Cultivating a future workforce that is ready for the fast pace and many changing faces of technology today requires a commitment from businesses in this industry to help prepare the next generation with the right technical skills, to get them excited about Computer Science and encourage more young people to pursue a career in this field.’

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