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.’

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. ‘

Camross Parish working for Climate action

As part of national Science Week which has a theme of Climate Action this year,  Camross Parish Development Association planted a number of trees on November 15th at noon  in their New Village Park in the Slieve Bloom Mountains near Mountrath.

The theme of this year’s Science Week is climate action, seeking to help people understand climate change how science and technology can help us create a positive climate future and the impact we as individuals can have on climate change. Coillte has kindly donated thousands of trees to Science Foundation Ireland to be planted during Science Week as part of this year’s Climate Action theme. The trees are a mixture of native saplings.

Ger Buckley, Establishment Managervof Coillte commented; ”Coillte while operating commercially and sustaining many rural jobs nationally also recognises the key role that all its woodlands both Conifer and Broadleaf have in Climate action. As such we currently manage up to 20% of our Forest estate with the primary objective of Biodiversity enhancement”.

Johanna Mc Donald Steenkist from Camross Parish Development Association commented ; “Trees and woodlands make a positive contribution to an area’s biodiversity and landscape, providing a habitat for wildlife and a place of recreation and relaxation for those who live in the area. We are delighted to part of this national tree planting initiative with Laois Heritage Office and Midlands Science and to plant so many trees in our new community woodland site in our Village Park during national Science Week.”

The village of Camross nestles close to Ard Erin-the highest peak in the Slieve Bloom Mountains and its name in Irish actually means ” Crooked Wood” ! In fact, research by Helen Roe, the first County Librarian in Laois in 1932 speaks to the enduring association of trees to the Camross area in its evocative place names – Marsh of the Elder Tree, Field of the Wood, Rough Oakwood and Oakwood of the Freeman.

 

Science of Chernobyl comes to Athlone…

We hosted a packed event earlier this week in  Athlone Library which explored the accident at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant which took place on April 26th, 1986. The radiation exposure to the Irish population, as a result of the Chernobyl accident, has been estimated based on the large number of foodstuffs and environmental samples measured at the time. It was calculated that Chernobyl resulted in an approximate three per cent increase in radiation exposure to the average Irish person in the twelve months following the accident. We were delighted to see so much interest in this fascinating topic which was another reminder that science really is all around us.

Science teacher, writer and birdwatcher Rory Duffy explored the science of Chernobyl and his recent visit to the site. The discussion was moderated by toxicologist, Dr Craig Slattery of UCD and was joined by Prof Gillian O’Brien of John Moores University Liverpool. Gillian has a special interest in dark tourism and the human fascination with disaster sites.

 

#believeinscience #stem #scienceweek

Free Discovery Day for Science Week in Tullamore

Excitement is building for an upcoming family Discovery Day due to take place in the Sacred Heart School this November 9th. This event is part of the annual Midlands Science Festival and it is sponsored by Tullamore based medical technology company, Integra LifeSciences.

Maria Rogers of Integra LifeSciences in Tullamore said,

‘We are delighted to join forces with Midlands Science once again for the annual Science Week celebrations and to support this fun and informative Discovery Day which will be a real treat for the whole family. It is extremely important for Integra LifeSciences as a local employer to provide as many young people as possible with inspiring experiences of science and to encourage them to consider science as a subject choice for the future. The workshops and experiences that people will find at the Discovery Day will not only extend people’s real-world understanding of science but it will also provide an opportunity for fun, creativity and learning which is what science should be all about.’

Integra LifeSciences, a world leader in medical technology with 19 manufacturing plants worldwide is dedicated to limiting uncertainty for surgeons, so they can concentrate on providing the best patient care. Integra offers innovative solutions in orthopedic extremity surgery, neurosurgery, and reconstructive and general surgery. Integra has an enduring tradition of giving back. Part of Integra’s CSR Strategy is to create an awareness of science & technology skills and careers among students and teachers, by actively supporting positive STEM experiences in the Midlands. Integra’s local partnership with Midlands Science has enabled the company to facilitate the organization and delivery of hands-on workshops in local primary and secondary schools during the Midlands Science Festival over the past few years.

The Discovery Day will include Dr Mindflip’s Ultimate Learning Experience, the Exploration Dome, the Reptile Zoo, Anyone 4 Science, the 501st Legion, Dale Treadwell’s Dinosaur Show, Cell Explorers and much more. Come along and make some ice cream, meet a storm trooper, hold a tarantula, explore the night’s sky and visit the 1960’s with Dr Mindflip. The event is free but booking is required on www.midlandsscience.ie and if you cannot attend, please cancel your place so it can be re-allocated.

Exciting news from Coillte for Science Week!

Science Week Ireland is an annual week-long event in Ireland each November, celebrating #science in our everyday lives. The #scienceweek programme includes workshops, science shows, talks, laboratory demonstrations, science walks and other science-related events. Science Week 2019 will focus on #climateaction, seeking to help people understand #climatechange, how science and #technology can help us create a positive climate future and the impact we as individuals can have on climate change.

Coillte has kindly donated thousands of #trees to Science Foundation Ireland to be planted during Science Week as part of this year’s Climate Action theme. The trees are a mix of native sapling trees.

• Pedunculate Oak
• Red Oak
• Silver Birch
• Common Birch
• Beech
• Common Alder
• Sycamore
• Grey Willow

As part of the Midlands Science Festival, we will have 1,000 of these #free saplings to give away in advance of Science Week. They must be collected from one central location which we will circulate shortly. If you wish to register your interest in collecting some trees, please email jgorman@midlandsscience.ie. All are welcome to register and applications are particularly welcome from community groups, schools etc who may be able to undertake the planting of a number of trees in various locations around the #midlands #believeinscience

Please bear with us!

A whole range of exciting science of events are currently uploading to our website over the coming days. Some events across the region are already booked out with waiting lists, more will be coming online. We look forward to seeing you during #scienceweek.

Don’t forget though we do free school workshops all year around so contact us for an expression of interest form and we’ll come to you!

Plans taking shape for Science Week 2019!

It may only be August but the weeks are flying past and we are nearly there with our 2019 #scienceweek programme. We cant wait to share it with you!

Dr Mindflip, Exploration Dome, Virtual Reality Gaming, Reptiles, Harry Potter, Roald Dahl, Star Wars, Turing Tumbles, Google Coding, National Museum of Ireland Outreach, Bog Bodies, Cancer Causes & Cures Myth Busting, Seven Ways To Save The Planet, Rediscovery Centre, Book Club, Science Knitting, Quiet Science (ASD appropriate), Chernobyl, Dinosaurs, Rockets, Electricity, Family Fun Day, Life Sciences Careers and much more.

Full programme will be online from October with booking links. #believeinscience

SNAKES AND SLIME FOR OFFALY!

The Midlands Science Festival will be taking place across the region for people of all ages from November 11th – 18th and promises a full programme of innovative and fun hands-on events. One of the key activities we can look forward to in Offaly this year is taking place in Tullamore library on November 17th. Join Sunday Times best-selling author Dr Steve Brusatte as he explores his life in dinosaur discoveries. He is one of the world’s leading scientists of a new generation of dinosaur hunters armed with cutting edge technology and he is piecing together the complete story of how the dinosaurs ruled the earth for 150 million years. Steve’s amazing work and discoveries have featured on BBC, CNN and National Geographic and he is the author of the Sunday Times Best Seller “The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs.” His book will also be for sale at the event and this event will be facilitated by journalist Claire O’Brien.

Other planned activities include the award-winning ‘Anyone 4 Science’ team who will be running their popular, hands on science workshops in Edenderry Library on November 12th in addition to the Junior Einsteins Science Club who will also be back to Tullamore Library on November 12th for a day of slime, rockets, smoke cannons, making elephant toothpaste and much more. There are still some places available so check this out!

Science Week, which is managed by ‘SFI Discover’ the education and public engagement programme of Science Foundation Ireland, will take science out of the lab and into libraries, theatres, public spaces and school halls, giving people a variety of fun ways to explore and open up a multitude of ideas for a potential future career in science, technology, engineering and maths.

The key evening public event for Offaly for this year is all about the science of golf. It takes place in the Esker Hills Golf Club in Ballinamere just outside Tullamore town on the evening of November 13th. It may surprise people to find out that golf is a game that has more interesting physics than any other. There is the aerodynamics of a golf ball in flight, the fundamentals of striking the ball, the generation of spin, and a formula for sending the ball in intentionally curved paths, such as deliberate hooks and slices.

Director of the Midlands Science Festival, Jackie Gorman said,

‘We are delighted to welcome Dr Ian Kenny of the University of Limerick [UL] to Esker Hills Golf Club to explore the science of golf during Science Week 2018. Ian is a senior lecturer in Biomechanics at the University of Limerick and is involved with an interdisciplinary research group at UL which is focussed on golf performance. His PhD research was on golf performance and he worked within the R&D team for the R&A Rules Ltd. in St. Andrews for the duration of his PhD research. This free event for Science Week is bound to be of interest to golfers of all ages and ability and we have many other fun, informative and innovative events throughout the week so do check out our events page on www.midlandsscience.ie for more details.’

This packed programme of free Science Week events is being rolled out in the counties of Laois, Offaly, Westmeath and Longford this November. It will bring together a large number of interested participants including science communicators, performers and researchers, science and technology speakers, science and TY students, mini scientists and the general public from all over the Midlands and beyond.

Midlands Science Festival Director, Jackie Gorman continued,

‘This year’s programme really is bigger and better than ever before with so much variety for people of all ages to enjoy. We are also looking forward to our fun and engaging Rediscovery workshops in Birr library on November 15th where primary school children will have the opportunity to participate in a number of exciting activities and learn about the science of sustainability in our communities and the Reptile Zoo Village will also return to the county this year, this time to Banagher Library on November 17th for a day of getting up close to snakes, tortoises and spiders if you so desire!’

Photography – An art and a science!

Veronica Nicholson is a photographic artist and educator, with a Masters degree in Digital Art who lives in Co. Offaly. Her book Observing Offaly, a commission from Offaly County Council, was published in 2016.

Veronica, we are thrilled to announce that you will be partaking in this year’s Midlands Science Festival.

Thanks. I’m delighted to be taking part.

We would love to find out more about your work as a photographer here in the Midlands. What inspired you to take up photography?

I didn’t really know what I wanted to do when I left school but I bought a camera in 1984 and found something I was good at and that I loved, and that also connected me with people and the world around me. Before that I think I felt quite disconnected and that was painful, whereas photography was, and still is, a complete joy.

My first job was as an apprentice to the photographer in the National Gallery of Ireland which was great fun, and I also started a part-time Diploma in Professional Photography in the Dublin Institute of Technology. I then trained in a commercial studio while finishing college. In college I was able to flex my creative muscles; in the studio I learned the profession. After college I went freelance and I also started teaching photography, as well as exhibiting my art photography in exhibitions. I’ve continued this mix ever since.

How did your book Observing Offaly come about?

I applied for and was awarded a Percent for Arts Commission from Offaly County Council in 2015 to make a book of photographs about contemporary life in Offaly. It was a dream project as I had permission to delve into all areas of peoples lives, and people were so generous inviting me into their homes and work places. I traveled all around the county with a mission to show the beauty of the boglands and the Grand Canal, and to highlight a county that is often seen as a place to drive through to get somewhere else. I also covered the news stories like the Equality Referendum and the floods, the general election of 2016, the Tullamore show, and the annual pilgrimage on Croghan Hill. I also made a point of highlighting the work of women farmers, who so often get overlooked. The result was a hardback book of nearly 150 photographs, which is for sale in all the libraries in Offaly.

How do you feel you combine art with science in your work?

It could be said that photography is both an art and a science.

The notion of a photograph dawned on one of the inventors of photography Henry Fox Talbot in 1833 while he using a camera lucida as an aid in drawing the Italian countryside near Lake Como. Dissatisfied with his inability to capture the beauty of the refracted image he saw, the artist and scientist began experimenting with chemical solutions to fix images on paper coated with silver nitrate. “How charming it would be if it were possible to cause these natural images to imprint themselves durably, and remain fixed upon the paper,” he mused. Six years later he achieved his goal.

When I’m taking a photograph, the science is a given, it’s not what I’m thinking about. Yes, every time a photograph is taken, light is bent through a piece of glass – this is optics; when the light hits the film or sensor, a chemical reaction takes place. But I’m concentrating instead of the subject, making decisions on how to frame and compose, what kind of light is falling on the subject, what combination of shutter speed and aperture to use, what ISO to set the camera etc etc. That’s the art I guess.

What can we expect from your participation in Science Week here in the Midlands this year?

I’m giving a talk called ‘Drawing with Light – the Science of Photography.’ We will look a bit at what light is and how the eye sees that portion of the electromagnetic radiation we call the visible spectrum. I will be giving a brief introduction into the invention of photography and why 1839 is the year given, even though cameras already existed, as did the knowledge that light had an effect on certain chemical substances. So what happened in 1839, the date given for the invention of photography?

We will also have some fun with everyone getting a chance to try their own ‘writing with light.’

The talks are in Stradbally library and Birr Castle. The event at Birr Castle Demense will include a visit to Mary Rosse’s nineteenth-century photographic dark room, the oldest surviving dark room in the world.