Climate Change, Sunspotting, Energy and More!

SHS EddieAnother great day today across the region with Midlands Science Festival. We hosted more Reptile Zoo visits, this time in Tullamore in St.Joseph’s National School where excited groups of children got to pet a snake and watch a scorpion in action!

Next up, we welcomed Professor Conor Boyle to Clara where he delivered a careers talk to secondary students at Clara Bog Visitor Centre on Climate Change. We delivered a similar science careers story in Longford with Dr. Trevor Woods of TCD and in Athlone with Sinead Miggin of NUI, Maynooth.

Students at Cnoic Mhuire Secondary School in Granard enjoyed an informative workshop with the Sustainable Energy Association of Ireland and Dr. Eddie Murphy of RTE’s Operation Transformation visited schools in Tullamore (photo) and he will also address the  public tonight at Tullamore Harriers club and on the science of mental fitness.

TCD Sunspotter workshops took place in Ferbane and we welcomed a representative from UCD’s Food for Health team to Birr to speak to students about sports performance and nutrition.

We are looking forward to lots more fun celebrating science over the next few days in the Midlands…Still some places left for some of our  free public events…check our Events section now for more details.


From Rycycling to Reptiles!

Tullamore Library Rediscovery Centre 1Today we had Rediscovery Centre workshops in the Tullamore Library which was a really fun and educational event for three Offaly schools. We also had Lorraine Bull from the Irish Wildlife Trust providing workshops in Clara Bog Visitor centre, teaching children about all kinds of things nature and wildlife. Career talks took place with the Amber Centre of TCD in Longford and children in Athlone had the chance to watch a tortoise in action as the Reptile Zoo Village visited for the day. We spent the rest of the day doing radio and promotional work so it is all go!

Today’s schedule has been jam-packed and the Midlands Science Festival 2015 is still young! Don’t miss out on places still available at some of our public events, check out the events page now!

Big Firms Encouraging Science and Tech Careers

As Science Week gets underway we were delighted to see more of the larger companies and key industry representatives doing more to highlight the fact that science and technology subjects could lead to exciting and challenging careers. Full article below.

I’m a Scientist, Get me out of here.. is back for this year’s Science Week!

‘I’m a Scientist, Get me out of here’ – a free X Factor-style online competition between scientists (where the students are the judges!) will run from the 9th to 20th of November, with 20 scientists competing for votes with fast-paced online chats and questions on everything from making drugs, to nanoparticles and even what’s in your pizza!

The competition is funded by Science Foundation Ireland and the Royal Society of Chemistry. It will feature a number of science ‘zones’ covering topics such as drug synthesis, food science, nanoscience and Nitrogen.

Students will challenge the scientists with all kinds of questions and then vote for their favourite scientist to win a prize of €500 to help them to communicate their work with the public. Keep up-to-date with the latest news on Twitter @imascientist, and follow the hashtag, #IASIE.


What a fun way to kick off!

Jackie gorman of midlands science festival with simon watt of channel 4

Our own Jackie Gorman, Midlands Science Festival Director is pictured here with members of the excited audience who went along to see Dr. Death (Simon Watt) in action in Athlone this weekend. More fun to come all week, this is just the beginning!


We are ready to go and kicking off, we have the Ugly Animals in Athlone tomorrow in St.Mary’s Hall at 3pm and again at 4:30pm. This promises to be fun filled day out for the whole family.

We see so many cute, cuddly animals taking the limelight when we visit the zoo or a pet farm! At this event we hope to create more awareness of some of the less beautiful but equally important endangered species out there.

Then on Sunday we welcome Dr. Death to the same venue at 2pm and 3:30pm for another family friendly show where comedian & ‘time travelling doctor’ Simon Watt takes you on a hilarious journey through sneezes, wheezes and the bizarre medicine of the past.

Don’t miss out and check our events page for more details of this and other events taking place from tomorrow during the Midlands Science Festival!

Tick-Tock – Festival Coming!

midlands-keep-calm-150x150With around 24 hour to go we are busy putting the final preparations to the festival and are gearing up for a very exciting, science-tastic week ahead.

Looking forward to seeing as many of you as possible out and about across the Midlands this week where you will get to experience the wonders of science all around you and see that there really is something for all ages! Happy Science Week one and all!

In Conversation with Tullamore native Debbie MacCaffery

Debbie you are originally from Tullamore in the Midlands but are working as a Science and Maths teacher in that right?

Yes, I have worked as a Science and Maths teacher since coming to Australia. My current position is part time (3 days per week), as I still have small children. I teach junior Science and Maths and then I have a senior Maths Class and a Chemistry class too. The courses for high school differ slightly here but the majority of the content is very similar to what is covered at home. I really enjoy teaching in Australia and in particular I love teaching students for whom Maths and Science may be a struggle. It is my challenge to find a way to communicate a difficult idea or concept in a way that makes sense to them.

What course did you choose after secondary school/why? My degree was in Chemistry and Microbiology from UCD and then I did a Higher Diploma in Education at Trinity College to become a teacher . Maths and Science teaching suited my 3rd level course perfectly.

What was your favourite subject at school and why? (assuming it was a science one!)

Science and in particular Biology was probably my favourite subject at school, by a nose over the rest of the subjects I did for my Leaving Cert. I think the reasons that I loved Biology are still the same today as they were in Mrs Garry’s class!! Firstly, I love the fact that within the boundaries of our skins and skeletons, reside these immensely complex and independent organisms, capable of intellectual brilliance and physical feats, but yet whose equilibria can be so easily disturbed. I also am a passionate Environmentalist and I think that Biology and Chemistry studies helped to shape this. I follow lots of Science blogs just to find out new facts and for the thrill of the knowledge. I love passing on those insights.

What kind of science subjects did you study as part of your journey to the career you chose?

In school I took Biology and Chemistry as my senior science choices. I then studied Chemistry for my degree along with Microbiology and Biochemistry, Statistics and Mathematics and some I.T.

What would you say to someone considering a career in science?

A career in Science is the start of a life long journey of learning. Initially after school I wanted to be a doctor or a physiotherapist. I had two great Science teachers who instilled in me a love of Biology and Chemistry and even though I was not studying or pursuing my initial career choices, now I have come around to think that for some of my students, I could be the person who inspires them to follow a career in Science themselves. Science is so varied in it’s career opportunities today – from Marine Biologists to Lab Technicians, and Dental Hygienists to Climate Change Technicians. There are jobs that will exist in years to come in Science fields that we haven’t even planned yet. These jobs will be technically centred and will require trained scientific thinkers. In particular I like to see more girls taking Science subjects, if they enjoy them, as a door to a science career. In 2015, the UK Education Secretary said data produced by London Economics consultancy showed that girls who take Maths and Science at high school senior year levels go on to earn a third more in wages than those who keep to the Arts and Humanities.

Capture the Attention of Young Minds!

nanoWe caught up Offaly’s Lucy Prendeville after she received her Leaving Cert results in which she achieved an amazing 8 A1’s! She has now headed happily off to Trinity College Dublin to study Nanoscience….

What advice would you give to someone going into exam year?

In my experience, routine is key. I had a steady routine that I stuck to religiously. I came home from school and took a break until four o’clock. I studied from four to six and then took a break from six until seven, where I had my dinner and watched some television to wind down. I then studied from seven until ten. Once it hit ten o’clock I put the books away. There is no point studying late into the night, you wont take anything in and you will only be tired the next day. It is very important to be disciplined in sixth and even fifth year. It’s all worth it in the end!

What was your favourite subject and why?

I absolutely love physics, chemistry and maths but chemistry was definitely the one that tickled my curiosity. From the start of fifth year I was amazed by this subject. I enjoyed every single topic in chemistry. I was fascinated by the detail involved and always enjoyed carrying out experiments. I think that chemistry explains so much and it can be seen everywhere in the world. I loved connecting things that I learned from my chemistry book with real life. I never felt bored with a chemistry book in front of me.

Did many students at your school study science or were there more popular subject choices?

We were very lucky in my secondary school Sacred Heart in Tullamore because all of the science subjects were catered for; biology, chemistry, physics and ag science. However of them all, biology was definitely the most popular.

What are you planning to study at third level?

My course is called ‘Nanoscience, Physics and Chemistry of Advanced Materials’ and I will be studying it in Trinity College. I am very excited to start and I feel that this course will really suit me. It incorporates my three favourite subjects; physics, chemistry and maths.

At the moment Nanotechnologies are being used to change every day things there anything you can see this discipline being able to do in the future..what is the next big thing in your opinion?

Without a doubt, nanoscience is huge at the moment. I don’t think I could even begin to visualise what is in store for the world regarding nanoscience. All I can say is that the world is changing fast and without a doubt, nanoscience will be at the cutting edge.

Challenges remain in trying to ensure we have enough future scientists here in the Irish economy. What do you think we can do to encourage more young people to consider a future career in science?

In my opinion, it is necessary to capture the attention of the young minds! It all starts in primary school. I was very lucky to attend Scoil Mhuire national school in Tullamore which piqued my interest in science. I remember building a volcano and being fascinated at seeing it erupt with the addition of baking powder and vinegar. Groups of scientists came to the school with presentations on various aspects of the world such as spiders and dinosaurs. At that young age, these demonstrations were perfect to introduce us into the amazing world of science. For someone to consider a career in science, they need to have an interest in this area. I had the privilege of going to a primary school that opened my eyes to this magical world.

Return of the Reptiles…

tortoiseWe are delighted to welcome back the Reptile Zoo and this year they will visit schools in Tullamore, Mullingar and Athlone.

National Reptile Zoo want to increase understanding of the world’s reptiles and amphibians, conserve animals and their habitats as well as offer opportunities for learning and enjoyment to the public. They want to continue to inspire a passion for nature and encourage people of all ages to become more engaged with the natural world around them. We are really excited about seeing all the animals again this year! You cant put a price on the childrens’ faces when a huge boa constrictor is lifted form its box…it is all very safe and presented in the most professional way of course so nothing to be afraid of! 🙂