Superhero Scientist is back!

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

We are delighted that Dr. Barry Fitzgerald will be returning to the region for Science Week 2019 – 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 is also the editor-in-chief of the TU Delft open access journal Superhero Science and Technology, and he has published scientific papers in a number of areas such as physics, chemistry, physiology, and education.
Barry has seen the film Avengers: Infinity War more than 40 times and his superpower will always remain a closely guarded secret.

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. I’m really looking forward to speaking as part of the Midlands Science Festival about all superheroes, science, and lots more!’

These are a few of our favourite things!

Great news that friend to the Midlands Science Festival, Dr Craig Slattery is returning this year to talk about all things science including one very interesting and salivating talk on chocolate and the science behind it.

Last year we enjoyed a fun filled event at Kilbeggan Handmade Chocolate where Craig explained just how chocolate is made and the effect it has on our bodies. This year Craig will be visiting a number of schools to talk chocolate, energy drinks and more about the science behind lots of interesting stuff!

TROUBLE SLEEPING?

Photo: Dr.Craig Slattery and Jackie Gorman

FREE PUBLIC EVENT ON THE SCIENCE OF SLEEP COMING TO ATHLONE

The Midlands Science Festival will be taking place across the region for all ages from November 13th-20th and promises a packed programme with over 120 innovative and hands-on events.

Jackie Gorman, Director of Midlands Science Festival said,
‘We are currently updating our website to include all activities but one public event which we are really looking forward to this year is all about exploring the science of sleep – insomnia, sleep disorders, baby sleeping routinues, sleep deprivation and much more! We all need our sleep and many people struggle with periods of insomina so come along to this free event which will explore how we can improve the quality a good night’s rest.’

This event which takes place in the Little Theatre in Athlone on the night of November 18th promises a highly informative evening with plenty of discussion and question time. Dr. Craig Slattery, a science communicator and Specialist Lecturer at University College Dublin who is originally from the region Craig will address the audience as will Dr Silke Ryan, Consultant in Respiratory and Sleep Medicine at St. Vincent’s University Hospital and Research Fellow at UCD.

For further information, please contact: Jackie Gorman, 05793 23902

Bringing Science to Yarnbombing!

We are super excited about this one. Its quirky, different and brand new to this year’s festival but of course has a science twist. We caught up with Nina to find out more!
Yarnbombing is thought to have originated in the US but knitters are now beginning to give Irish streets a makeover..using wool! Can you tell us what is yarn bombing?
Yarnbombing (also known as “urban knitting” or “guerrilla knitting”) is a form of street art whereby items such as street furniture (public seating, bins etc.) are covered with items made of yarn. The items can be crocheted, knitted, felted or whatever. It is temporary and fleeting in nature and usually installed secretly.
Where are you based and what type of events do you get involved in?
We are based in Mountmellick, Co. Laois. Our town has a long history of textiles and is famous for Mountmellick Embroidery. We believe that our heritage has inspired our love of all things textile. There are many crocheters, knitters, embroiderers and crafters in our town. Our group has been involved in many collaborations. The highlight so far this year was having designed and created a garden for Bloom in the Park. We were approached by the Bloom organisers to submit a design after they saw a piece about us on RTE’s Nationwide. Our design was accepted into this prestigious festival and it was a massive honour for us and the town. 
What will you be doing during Science Week?
During Science Week, we will be creating common viruses and some body parts from yarn (knitted and crocheted) so that children can see, feel and touch these often mysterious germs and get to see their structure and shape in a fun (and non-contagious!) way.
Why is it important to get involved in local activities like the Midlands Science Festival?
We believe that anything that inspires children to investigate the world around them, question why things work as they do, wonder why a ball bounces or how a flower blooms, is of the utmost importance. The minds of children are like sponges and immersing them in the wonderful world of science at a young age is the perfect opportunity to influence and impress them. If our yarny bits give the impetus to one or two of them to take up knitting or crochet as a hobby, all the better! From a scientific point of view, these hobbies are good for their creativity, their fine motor and mathematical skills. It’s a win-win!
Can anybody participate in what you do?
Yes. We meet once a week (Monday nights at 7:30pm) in Mountmellick Community Arts Centre, Parnell Street Mountmellick. We welcome beginners, improvers or experts. Whether you knit, crochet, work with felt or would like to learn a little, come and join us. We see ourselves primarily as a community group. Our aims are not self-serving. We do what we do to put a smile on peoples’ faces. Check out our Facebook page if you need any further information or wish to get in touch with us: https://www.facebook.com/yarnbombingmountmellick/
 

Ploughing Festival Success!

Thanks so much to everyone who visited our kite making workshops and Science of Chocolate event at the National Ploughing Festival –  we are delighted that the day was such a great success and look forward to making and flying many more kites at the Midlands Science Festival in November!

Chocolate Dreams..

chocolate image 1We are hugely excited about visiting a wonderful local business, ‘Kilbeggan Handmade Chocolate’  tomorrow when our favourite pharmacologist and toxicologist Dr Craig Slattery will come to the Midlands to talk about what we consider two very important things; coffee and chocolate ..here’s an article he penned for the Journal to give you a taster..

http://www.thejournal.ie/science-of-coffee-and-chocolate-2413259-Nov2015/

Bone-Chilling Science for Halloween

abbie hallloweenHalloween is the season for all our mini witches, ghosts and goblins to take to the streets, asking for treats, performing scary poems and song and scaring one another senseless. Spooky stories are told around fires or at bedtime, fun times are had dressing up and partying at school, scary movies are shown in cinemas around the country and pumpkins are carved into lanterns. The tradition is believed to have come from Ireland, where they used to carve faces into turnips, beet and other root vegetables as part of the Gaelic festival of Samhain.

Amid all the fun and celebration about the fact that everybody is on mid-term break, the origins of Halloween are often overlooked but it really is about much more than fake blood- stained costumes and monkey nuts.

Halloween, also known as All Hallows’ Eve, can be traced back about 2,000 years to a pre-Christian Celtic festival held around Nov. 1 called Samhain which means “summer’s end” in Gaelic, according to the Indo-European Etymological Dictionaries. This was known to some as a safe time to commune with the dead..People would gather together and light huge fires to ward off bad fortune for the coming year and any evil spirits.

Here are fearsome facts to keep your little horrors entertained…

The word “witch” comes from the Old English wicce, meaning “wise woman.” In fact, wiccan were highly respected people at one time.

The largest pumpkin ever measured was grown by Norm Craven, who broke the world record in 1993 with a 836 lb. pumpkin

Trick-or-treating evolved from the ancient Celtic tradition of putting out treats and food to placate spirits who roamed the streets at Samhain

Black and orange are typically associated with Halloween. Orange is a symbol of strength and endurance and, along with brown and gold, stands for the harvest and autumn. Black is typically a symbol of darkness and acts as a reminder that Halloween once was a festival that marked the boundaries between life and death.

Halloween is thought to have originated around 4000 B.C., which means Halloween has been around for over 6,000 years.

One of the scariest of the last few decades is making its way back to cinemas this year!. John Carpenter’s slasher classic Halloween is going to be showing at a selection of cinemas around the country – Go if you dare!!

Discovering our Tap Water!

The Geological Survey of Ireland (GSI), founded in 1845, is the National Earth Science Agency. It is responsible for providing geological advice and information, and for the acquisition of data for this purpose. GSI produces a range of products including maps, reports and databases and acts as a knowledge centre and project partner in all aspects of Irish geology. We are pleased to announce that this year, the GSI is back again and is bringing some exciting workshops to a local school during the Midlands Science Festival.

GSI realises that our future lies in the hands of today’s young students so efforts are really increasing to ensure that as an organisation, GSI engages in activities which are really relevant to today’s school goers, which may hopefully in turn, encourage children to consider a career in science or more specifically geoscience.

GSI water workshops explore the journey of your tap water from droplet to drain. Interactive experiments and hands-on activities reveal the intriguing science of the natural hydrological cycle and everyday water use.

We are looking forward to hearing how our Offaly school enjoys this unique event for 2015!

Warning: This show promises blood, guts, gore and more!

Sneezes, wheezes, sickness and diseases are never welcome. But in the past, some of the treatments could be worse than the underlying illness. Join the time-travelling ‘Doctor Death’, Simon Watt, to see if he can ‘cure’ you at this exciting Midlands Science Festival event which will take place in St. Mary’s Hall in Athlone on Saturday, November 7th from 3pm.

Simon Watt is a biologist, writer, science communicator and TV presenter. He runs Ready Steady Science, a science communication company committed to making information interesting and takes science based performances into schools, museums, theatres and anywhere else that will have him!!

Increase in BT Young Scientist Entries

According the today’s Irish Times, record numbers of students have signed up for the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition taking place next January at the RDS.

Half of all secondary schools across Ireland are sending students to take part this year, with a whooping 2,048 project entries received.

Girls are continuing to outpace the boys when it comes to participation, with 62 per cent of entrants female and 38 per cent male. It looks as if some 4,449 students are hoping to take part, according to BT Ireland

BT organises the event with the support of the Department of Education and Skills, Analog Devices, Intel, Perrigo and RTÉ.

The exhibition takes place next January from 6th-9th. Find more information about the event at btyoungscientist.com or @BTYSTE