Festival Celebrates Five Years!

Excitement is really building now as we start to make preparations for this year’s Midlands Science Festival which is now entering its fifth year!

From humble beginnings with just 33 events back in 2013, we have grown bigger and better every year and have already booked a number of fun and innovative activities for this November to ensure we deliver an action packed and highly memorable festival during Science Week 2017.

Some of the things our local young people can look forward to include our favourite snakes, spiders and tor toises who will return to the Midlands and visit at least three lucky schools this year. We are also excited about welcoming back the team from Go Fly Your Kite, Junior Einsteins Science Club, Marine Dimensions, a mobile planetarium and so much more!

Watch this space for updates over the coming months and find out how you can help us to celebrate science in an even bigger way this year!


Rocket Making Fun for Tullamore Schools

Local development company Midlands Science recently teamed up with Tullamore based company, Integra LifeSciences Ireland Ltd to deliver an innovative science initiative to two fortunate schools in Tullamore. Astronomer, Lecturer and Space Enthusiast, Seanie Morris, visited both St. Philomena’s NS and Scoil Mhuire and provided pupils with his popular ‘Make& Launch A Rocket Workshop.’ This involved an insight in to the his tory of propulsion combined with a little bit of arts and craft, finishing up with an experiment involving some chemistry on how a rocket is thrust upwards.

John O’ Donovan, ‎Plant Manager at Integra LifeSciences Ireland Ltd commented,

‘Integra was delighted to recently partner with Midlands Science as a corporate sponsor in order to deliver this fun and interactive science event to local primary schools. It is very important to us as a company to seek opportunities where we can play a role in promoting science education and the message that science is around us in so many aspects of daily life. The earlier that science can be introduced in young classrooms the better and these inclusive, hands-on workshops are an ideal way of doing so by teaching pupils how to carry out a basic science investigation. We hope that this type of activity will inspire them to think about science and its diversity when it comes to second level and future subject choices.’

Midlands Science is a local development company working to progress economic development and education attainment in the Midlands of Ireland. It is funded by a mixture of public and private funding. Since 2008, the company has focused on a work programme dealing with STEM education (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) and the key objective is to grow the exposure and teaching of STEM subjects in schools through relationships with Department of Science & Engineering, Science Foundation Ireland and a number of academic and corporate partners with a science related focus, bringing international best practice and creating relevant and fruitful opportunities.

CEO of Midlands Science, Jackie Gorman commented,

‘We were delighted to be able to collaborate with such a forward thinking company as Integra LifeSciences to deliver this event and we are also partnering with a number of other local schools and organisations to create opportunities which aim to excite students about science and demonstrate how it connects to real life. It’s about creating greater interest in science education and careers which of course benefits the Midland region for the future.’

Promoting STEM Education with ESB

We are delighted and proud to be working with leading utility company, ESB this year to help spread messages about the importance of STEM education and we caught up with CSR Coordina tor, Anne Cooney to find out more about the work that EB is doing in this area.

In what kinds of ways do ESB help develop future skills in science, technology, engineering?

From our perspective, as a leading Irish employer, it makes sense for us to support our young people in developing these core skills.  After all, they are our workforce of the future.

We, in common with many other Irish companies, need access to staff with strong science, technology, maths and literacy skills and all of these are grounded in getting our young children off to the best educational start possible.  ESB supports a wide range of initiatives across the country working to raise awareness and encourage and influence participation in STEM.  Initiatives include Dublin Science Gallery, I Wish, TechSpace, and Midlands Science.  More information can be found at https://esb.ie/acting-responsibly/community-stem-and-the-arts/promoting-innovation-through-stem.


Do you work with educationally disadvantaged communities and if so what types of projects do you feel work well?

ESB’s Energy for Generations Fund sees over €2m per year disbursed across a range of community and issues-based initiatives. Each year the Fund awards €1m in direct funding through a quarterly fund to charities working in the areas of suicide prevention, homelessness and education access and support.

ESB has been supporting initiatives in the areas of suicide prevention and homelessness since 2005 and we introduced a new focus on education in 2014, which recognises the need for educational supports at all levels to ensure that Ireland has the skills it needs to compete effectively in the future.  We support organisations working in the area of education in very practical and effective ways to support our young people in developing core skills.  Without a strong foundation in the basics, children will find their path through education, to whatever level they aspire, much more of a struggle.

ESB is also conscious that our staff and our company have been the beneficiaries of his torically high standards of educational delivery.  We have a duty to acknowledge and repay that investment made in us and we are pleased to be the national partner with An Cosán Virtual Community College.  There are many barriers for people across Ireland in accessing further and higher education and An Cosán VCC is an innovative new programme which has the power to break down these barriers and offers a unique opportunity for anyone wishing to develop their skills and achieve their full potential.

How do you think we can do more to encourage young children to take an interest in science and technology? Are there any recommended ways for teachers to inform pupils about the electricity distribution network in a fun and exciting way?

We need to introduce young children to STEM at an early age – and show that it is fun!  I am a firm believer that the earlier we start with educating our children, parents and teachers the better the future for all of us.  We need to make STEM more appealing and demonstrate its relevance by showing how it is key to solving different challenges.  And we need to show that it’s just as cool for girls to enjoy maths as it is for boys.

Electricity is so much part of daily life that we often take it for granted. It is a powerful and versatile energy but can be dangerous if not used properly.  So it is essential to be aware of the potential dangers and make safety a priority for everyone.  To raise awareness and educate school going children about electricity, ESB Networks has developed Junior and Senior Lesson Plans specifically designed to work with the electricity strands of the Science Curriculum.  These lesson plans and other fun and educational resources can be accessed here.

Are there enough young people studying engineering at third level and are there currently enough graduates in STEM fields?

There is a worldwide skills shortage in STEM – and Ireland is not immune.  There are not enough young people studying engineering at third level, and even fewer females.  Many believe that if we can fix the gender gap, we can alleviate the skills shortage. Figures from the Central Statistics Office show that less than 25 per cent of the approximate 120,000 people working in STEM related jobs are female. As such, there is a significant focus now is on encouraging more females to consider and explore the world of STEM subjects. – See more at: https://esb.ie/blog/esb-in-the-community/esb-in-the-community/2017/02/06/i-wish-for-stem-success#sthash.7b1xxa18.dpuf


His tory of the Grand Canal, Water safety and Life Saving!

Today we were delighted to welcome RNLI volunteer Ronan Adams (who is originally from Tullamore) back to the Midlands to talk to four schools about the work of the RNLI, water safety, how the crew save lives and of course how science plays a role in all of this highly important work. 

The children even had an opportunity to test whether or not Ronan was telling the truth when he said his uniform was completely waterproof! (See pho to)

We also had a brilliant day of workshops all about the grand canal which runs through Tullamore and this was provided to a very lucky local school by waterways Ireland and the Irish Peat Conservation Council.

Later on its the science of perfume, loads of careers talks and some experts in to the science of sleep! Its not over yet!

Science of Scents!

Planning to be in the Mullingar area on Friday afternoon? Why not come along to this free event all about the science of perfume or ‘Making Sense of Scents’ with Dr. Craig Slattery at Weir’s
Pharmacy Mullingar on November 18th at 4pm!

Up, Up and Away

It was kite making and flying in Offaly today when the team from ‘Go Fly Your Kite’ visited the pupils of Eoin Pol in Tullamore and also Killeagh NS for an interactive workshop on kites and howkites-eoin-pol-1 they work. Feedback has been really positive and Glenn and his team made sure that all of the students rolled up their sleeves and really got involved in the learning and fun.

‘The physics of how a kite gains lift is very similar to how an airplane gains lift. The wings generate lift force by the action of the moving air over the wing surface. A kite works in exactly the same way. The wind blows in the direction of the kite and underneath it – this creates lift. An excellent way for students to a gain a feel for aerodynamic forces is to fly a kite!’

Go Fly Your Kite in Tullamore yesterday



Science for Breakfast, Geology, Biology and More!

Today has been another action packed day so far, with an early start in Athlone for a science skills and careers networking breakfast. Here our key speaker Anne Heraty of Cpl Resources addressed kites-eoin-pola full audience all about the importance of science related careers and focused on the Midlands as a place to live and work. We had more kite making in Tullamore, a talk from NUI Maynooth professor, Sean Doyle in St Brendan’s in Birr, snakes and tor toises in Offaly and geology and lessons about our tap water in one of our local Gaelscoils with the Geological Survey of Ireland! Meanwhile over in Laois we had science magic in Abbeyleix while in Moate there was recycling and other science lessons with the Rediscovery Centre! #ScienceWeek

Planets, Careers and Kites!

So far today has been fun-filled, fact-filled and even involved a spot of kite flying! The reptiles are on tour and today made their way to Co. Longford where children had the opportunity to pet a tor toise and meet all sorts of entertaining little creatures! We are also delighted to be partnering with our friends at ‘Go Fly Your Kite’ to provide fun and interesting workshops for pupils across the region during this year’s Midlands Science Festival and they started their regional workshops today in the Gaelscoil in Athlone where pupils learned all about the physics of kite flying and then theygot to make their own kite to get a real piece of the action. st-j-at-ex-dome

Dr. Andy Fogarty from the science department in AIT gave an informative talk to secondary students all about ‘Sex, drugs and Fish’ in Athlone and the mobile planetarium provided by our friends at ‘Exploration Dome’ made its way to Tullamore where the pupils of St. Josephs NS had the opportunity to spend a little time learning and star-gazing. Another action packed and fun-filled day for the Midlands Science Festival..

Roll on tomorrow when we will be having science for breakfast!

Sunset walks, superfoods and Anyone for science?

The festival kicked off on Saturday with a fantastic talk from ornithologist, Ricky Whelan in Co.Laois followed by a beautiful sunset walk as crowds of people watched flocks of ravens and crows (the most intelligent birds in the animal kingdom) fly back their rookery.  This talk also included the opportunity for everyone to meet with the ravens Fiachra and Satan, who have appeared in the TV show Vikings.

Ben Doran is helped by Mary Delaney experiments with static electricity experiments at St. Joseph's NS in Borris-In-Ossory as part of Midlands Science Festival. Picture: Jeff Harvey/HR Pho to

Ben Doran is helped by Mary Delaney experiments with static electricity experiments at St. Joseph’s NS in Borris-In-Ossory as part of Midlands Science Festival. Picture: Jeff Harvey/HR Pho to

Moving to today, we have everything from informative talks on superfoods, nutrition and iphone technology in Athlone, a day of explosions, snakes and spiders with the Reptile Zoo Village and the Junior Einsteins in Mullingar while over in Laois, the team from Anyone for Science carried out all sorts of fun experiments and the Exploration Dome entertained several pupils while teaching them all about science, space, geology and more!

It has been challenging trying to make sure there was something for as many age groups as possible, but today certainly provided a huge variety of activities and showed just how much science is all around us in everything we do!


With over 100 events ranging from hands-on, messy experiments and workshops to an exciting mobile planetarium and talks on science careers, the Midlands Science Festival which began on Saturday as part of national Science Week and runs until November 20th promises to provide something for all ages this year.

Shay Cullen from Raven Haven Aviaries with a male raven and Jackie Gorman, Midlands Science Festival during a talk, the Secret Life of Ravens and Crows at Portlaoise Library as part of Midlands Science Festival which is hosting events across the midlands region as part of national science week 13th - 20th November 2016.

Picture: Jeff Harvey

Shay Cullen from Raven Haven Aviaries with a male raven and Jackie Gorman, Midlands Science Festival during a talk, the Secret Life of Ravens and Crows at Portlaoise Library as part of Midlands Science Festival which is hosting events across the midlands region as part of national science week 13th – 20th November 2016.

Picture: Jeff Harvey

Events which took place in Laois so far have ranged from an outdoor sunset walk and a presentation on the ‘Secret Lives of Ravens and Crows’ in Portlaoise, fun activities for schools such as one provided by the team at ‘Anyone for Science’ called “Bright Sparks – The Hair Raising S tory of Electricity” and a visit from the Exploration Dome where pupils had the opportunity do some star-gazing.

Ann Bergin, Principal at Timahoe National School said,

‘We were delighted to have had the opportunity to attend another Midlands Science Festival event during this year’s Science Week. We really enjoyed the Exploration Dome and the pupils learned about everything from space to geography and geology. This festival is a wonderful way to educate young children about science in a more fun and hands-on way and we hope that it inspires them to think about science when it comes to second level and making choices about future subjects.’

The organisers of the Midlands Science Festival wish to thank all speakers, workshop providers, schools and the public, many of whom travelled from beyond the region to attend some of the events which took place so far this year.