We are really excited about our science festival events today! First, we are off to Laois to celebrate science with the Junior Einsteins Science Club for a day of fun and engaging experiments. This unique club incorporates core science into hands-on sessions designed to stimulate and create a love of science and nature. Pupils will get to make and do their own experiments wearing their lab coats and goggles and using real scientific equipment including a university grade Van Der Graff Generator.
We have career talks and STEM inspiration with Intel in Moate thanks to Midlands native, Bridget Molloy.
Then its over to Offaly! A key theme for this year is that of heritage and Midlands Science has teamed up with Creative Ireland to provide one Offaly school with a project which celebrates the work of a local nineteenth century pioneering scientist, microscopist and naturalist Mary Ward, who was working at a time when it was very difficult for women to be taken seriously in any field other than the domestic. We look forward to seeing how this one goes!
And there’s more!
Midlands Science is delighted to announce a new partnership with Bord na Móna for this year’s annual Midlands Science Festival. Established in 1934 as the Turf Development Board, renamed Bord na Móna in 1946, the company has committed itself over 80 years ago to delivering sustainable industry to Ireland using indigenous resources. Bord na Móna is also committed to promoting awareness and education on biodiversity in schools and in communities and to protecting and preserving our heritage and environment for future generations to enjoy.
Jackie Gorman, Director of the Midlands Science Festival said,
‘The Midlands Science Festival is all about taking science out of the lab and into places like libraries, theatres and even outdoors in order to provide diverse ways for people of all ages to explore the world around them and to learn something new. We are delighted to be partnering with Bord na Móna for this year’s Midlands Science Festival and with their support and sponsorship, we will be providing some fun and interactive events for schools this November in various Offaly locations. In keeping with a key Science Week 2017 of ‘climate change’ we are particularly excited to be inviting two lucky schools to Bord Na Mona’s largest windfarm, Mountlucas Co. Offaly, where pupils will learn first-hand about wind turbine technology, the national significance of wind energy and the workings of a local windfarm. Thanks to the generosity of partners such as Bord na Mona, we are now heading into our fifth year and our 2017 festival promises to be bigger and better than ever before.’
Exciting and interactive workshops from providers at the ‘Rediscovery Centre’ and the team at ‘Go Fly Your Kite’ will be delivered to schools and these workshops are a way of engaging young children about the diversity of science and technology and how it is such a big part of everyday life. Bord Na Mona has a number of sites in the Midlands that welcome visits from the public and particularly young people to learn more about the advances being made in the areas of renewable energy technology, power generation and ecology to name but a few.
Corporate Social Responsibility Manager at Bord na Móna, Mia McCarthy commented,
‘Bord na Móna’s strategy is focused on moving the company from being dependent on our traditional businesses. We have diversified to sustainable businesses including renewable energy. While providing employment is highly valuable, Bord na Móna provides more than just jobs. We have always perceived our role to be active and directly involved in the communities where we operate so we are delighted to be teaming up with the Midlands Science Festival this year to support events which help to promote the importance of science education to our local young people.’
We are really pleased to announce something new for 2017!
Barry Fitzgerald – Research Scientist at Delft University of Technology, Speaker, Scientific Communicator and Author-will be presenting at this year’s Midlands Science Festival as part of our partner mini festival in Co.Longford this year. I caught up with Barry to find out more…
Barry, we are delighted that you will be taking part in this year’s Midlands Science Festival. Can you tell us a little about what attendees can expect at your event?
First of all let me say that I’m really looking forward to being a part of this year’s Midlands Science Festival. When I was asked to be a part of the festival I had no hesitation in saying yes to the invite. Thank you very much for having as part of the festival.
The superhero genre has become one of the most popular in modern cinema. Each year numerous superhero films are released and 2017 is no exception. In fact just before Science Week Thor: Ragnarok and Justice League will be released. As a result superhero characters such as Thor, the Hulk, Doctor Strange, Batman, Wonder Woman and the Flash will all be the subject of media coverage around the time of the Midlands Science Festival. I’m sure that many people would love to have the superpowers of some of these characters.
During my talks at the Midlands Science Festival the audience are going to hear about some of the incredible scientific research from around the world that could lead to the superpowers of the superheroes in the future. I’ll be talking about the science behind Iron Man, Spider-Man, the Invisible Woman and many other superheroes. In addition I’ll also be talking about the ultimate superhero – Santa Claus. Every Christmas Santa travels around the world, a journey that is made possible thanks to his advanced science and technology. I hope to inspire some of the audience to think differently about science, to think differently about superpowers and to possibly pursue a career in science and engineering in the future. Who knows someone at the Midlands Science Festival could be the first person to build and wear a fully working Iron Man suit!
What is your background? Did you study science at university?
I have a degree in Applied Physics from the University of Limerick and a PhD in Computational Physics from the same university. In 2012 I moved to the Netherlands to continue my research career. I’ve worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Twente and Eindhoven University of Technology. Currently I’m working as a researcher in the 3mE faculty of the Delft University of Technology (TU Delft). My current research is focused on biomass energy, computer simulations of fluidized bed reactors, collective motion in people and birds, and the rheology of polymer systems.
What initially steered you towards a career in science?
When I was younger I was enthralled by mathematics. I remember I finished “Busy at Maths 5”, my 5th class maths book, three months before the end of the school year. It wasn’t until I went to secondary school that I became fascinated by science. Back then I didn’t have access to a resource such as the Internet. Perhaps if I had access to such an amazing resource my interest in science might have started at a younger age. During my Junior Certificate years I always remember being fascinated by physics given that it combined mathematics with a study of how matter moves through space and time. When it came to my Leaving Certificate I selected a series of numerical subjects including applied mathematics, physics, chemistry and accounting. For a time I even contemplated becoming an accountant but the attraction of physics was too great to ignore. While growing up I was also captivated by the idea of time travel from films like the Back to the Future trilogy and Star Trek 4. I read quite a few popular science books about time travel and the possibility of building a time machine. These books highlighted the importance of physics and mathematics to realizing time travel, which, I should add, is not prohibited by the laws of physics (well time travel to the future is definitely possible). My reading, my interest in mathematics and passion for physics all served to influence my decision to pursue a career in science.
Please tell us a little about your books.
I’ve written and self-published two popular science books – Secrets of Superhero Science and Secret Science of Santa Claus.
In the Secrets of Superhero Science I describe the fundamental science that you would learn at school and current scientific research that could lead to superpowers in the future. I discuss the possibility of creating the X-Men, replicating the power of invisibility possessed by the Invisible Woman and the possibility of building Spider-Man’s web-slingers. In addition I also discuss the implications of introducing superpowers to modern society.
In my second book, Secret Science of Santa Claus, I discuss the science and technology behind perhaps the greatest superhero of all time – Santa Claus. On Christmas Eve, Santa Claus delivers present to millions of children around the world. This extraordinary endeavour would be impossible without Santa’s innovative technological gadgets. In the book I describe the science behind Santa’s flying reindeer, his cutting-edge weather prediction methods and why Santa Claus is an ultramarathon runner. I also discuss how Santa’s gift-bringing will change onwards into the 21st century. Right now I’m busy working on my next book, which I hope will be ready for the first half of 2018.
Why are national events like Science Week so important do you think?
The importance of national events such as Science Week cannot be understated. First and foremost Science Week is a unique platform facilitating connection and engagement on scientific matters and concepts with the general public. I first presented workshops as part of Science Week in 2015. That week was a fantastic experience as I spoke about many topics in science at a number of schools around the country. I enjoyed being part of Science Week so much that I cameback again last year to speak in schools, bookshops and libraries. In addition I opened Science Week 2016 at the University of Limerick.
Science Week is an opportunity for researchers and those working in scientific communication to inspire the next generation of scientists in addition to astounding people of all ages. Science Week is a chance for scientists to tell the public about some of the incredible scientific advancements taking place right now and how it will impact on their lives in the near future. Importantly the science is explained in an accessible language and using relevant connections to the real world. When anyone attends one of my Science Week workshops I want him or her to engage with science in a unique way and to think differently about science. The relevance of science in modern society is often forgotten and even taken for granted. Science Week promotes the importance of science for the real world and encourages the general public to engage with science on a daily basis. Science isn’t just for one week. Science is for life.
Kicking off in just two days time with ravens and crows, the time has nearly arrived to celebrate science across the region during this year’s Midlands Science Festival! We have reptiles, junior scientists, experiments, plants and nutrition on Monday.. How to make kites and the science behind flying them, science magic and careers advice on Tuesday and that’s just for starters!
The team here at Midlands Science Festival would like to thank everyone who has made this festival possible from sponsors and partners, to schools, local media and workshop presenters and speakers. We can not wait for the festival to begin – Its our biggest and best one yet, with over 130 events for all age groups!
See you soon for all things science!
The opportunity to find out what it feels like to have an exotic reptile hanging from your shoulders, learning about science magic and how life boats work are just some of the exciting experiences taking place across the Midlands during Science Week from November 13th-20th.
The Midlands Science Festival which is now less than 2 weeks away will give people a variety of fun ways to explore the world around them and open up a multitude of ideas and possibilities for a future career in science, technology, engineering and maths.
Midlands Science Festival Director, Jackie Gorman said,
‘The festival is shaping up to be much larger and more exciting than ever before. A key goal of Science Week is to strengthen the attractiveness of science education through the use of exciting and innovative tools and ideas so we have a whole range of activities lined up to do just this.’
Take your curiosities to a new level and don’t miss out an opportunity to discover and celebrate science this November across the Midlands.
One of the things we look forward to the most during Science Week is seeing so many happy, young primary school faces when pupils get the opportunity to have a fun science event at their school. This one was particularly popular..the ‘Science of bubbles’ which was a terrific way to teach children some basic science principles in a fun and exciting way!
We have lots more events like this coming to the region this year and we can not wait! 🙂
Another 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.
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.
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