Science Week 2021 Success!

Midlands Science was delighted to recently present a full week of free interactive science and exploration as part of national Science Week. With plenty of virtual events ranging from entertaining animal workshops with Dublin Zoo and the National Reptile Zoo to informative public talks on subjects such as ‘Joint Health’ and the ‘Science of Chocolate.’ It was therefore no surprise that thousands of people attended this year. Most events were all held on a digital platform this year due to the ongoing pandemic, but the positive part of that was that more people from all over Ireland and not just the Midlands, were able to access activities than ever before.

Jackie Gorman, Director of the Midlands Science Festival commented,

‘I’m delighted at the success of our ninth Midlands Science Festival, which as promised was event bigger and better than the one we ran last year during Covid19 times. It was wonderful to see so many schools registering for workshops which all pupils could access, as previously these events may only been available for a few classes. Organising such a largescale event online is certainly a challenge, but one we have really enjoyed and I wish to thank Science Foundation Ireland, all of our partners, speakers, performers and sponsors once again for making this all possible.’

It was great to see audience of all ages, ranging from school pupils and teenagers to highly respected science experts, communicators participating this year. The festival is a fantastic way to really capture the imagination and show people that science can be fun. A large number of Midlands students also had the opportunity to avail of some high-level careers advice from companies such as 3M, Irish Manufacturing Research, Cpl Recruitment, Accenture, IPCC, The Royal College of Surgeons, Ireland and many others this Science Week.

Royal Society of Chemistry Education Coordinator, Ireland Dr John O Donoghue, spoke about the online event exploring ‘Sugar and spice and everything science – the Science of chocolate’ where scientists Christine Campbell and Craig Slattery explored everything from why we like the taste of some chocolates more than others to creating the perfect chocolate sauce. This event which was a huge hit with schools and families alike during Science Week.

Dr John O Donoghue said,

“It’s fantastic to see more chemistry during science week, especially something so accessible to lots of different audiences like the Science of Chocolate. The video is very professional and engaging, we’d love to see more initiatives like this in the future!

Midlands Science was also delighted to partner with Bord na Móna for this year’s festival in providing a guided walk and talk at Lough Boora Discovery Park in Co. Offaly. At this event, Bord na Móna safely hosted a number of young pupils from Kilcormac and provided an overview of the ecological, environmental and cultural value of raised bogs while also focusing on the biodiversity features of interest available at the Lough Bora Discovery Park.

Jackie Gorman continued,

‘We have been overwhelmed by the level of goodwill from local media, our providers and many other organisations and individuals throughout the region. The large public turnout shows the appetite for this type of online event and after another successful year, we can hopefully look forward to bringing the Midlands Science Festival back to this region again.’

The virtual Discovery Day which was supported by Integra LifeSciences drew an audience of thousands of young people nationwide and included the Exploration Dome, the Reptile Zoo, Anyone 4 Science, Dale Treadwell’s Dinosaur Show, Anyone4Science and more. People of all ages had the opportunity to explore the night’s sky and learn about the science is Superheroes as well as meeting some very interesting reptiles and dinosaurs and this was all done online. Science Week is a wonderful opportunity for young science enthusiasts and their families to see what’s new and innovative in the world of science and technology.

Sinead Harten of Boher School in Co. Offaly said,

‘We were delighted to work with Midlands Science to ensure that our pupils had the opportunity to avail of events for Science Week and this has been a real treat for them after this past year and a half. It is extremely important that schools provide as many young people as possible with inspiring experiences of science and to encourage them to consider science as a subject choice when they are older. The workshops that are run by Midlands Science extend our pupils’ understanding of day to day science but also provide an opportunity for creativity and learning which is what science should be all about, especially for younger children.’

 

 

 

Taking Science Outside with Bord na Móna

Midlands Science was delighted to partner with Bord na Móna for this year’s annual Midlands Science Festival in providing a guided walk and talk at Lough Boora Discovery Park in Co. Offaly.

At this event, Bord na Móna safely hosted a number of young pupils from Kilcormac and provided an overview of the ecological, environmental and cultural value of raised bogs while also focusing on the biodiversity features of interest available at the Lough Bora Discovery Park. This event was part of national Science Week, supported by Science Foundation Ireland and was a great opportunity to host an in-person event due to the fact that it could be held outside in nature.

Nature is all around us and it is packed with possibilities for children to investigate and explore. Children need time to discover the outdoors and our outdoor spaces have become more important than ever over the past eighteen months as our hunger for solace and a connection with nature has dramatically increased.

Pat Sammon, External Affairs Manager, Bord na Móna said, ‘It was wonderful to play a part in this year’s Science Week in the Midlands and to see young people out enjoying the fantastic amenities and breathtaking landscapes of Lough Boora. Bord na Móna is 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. We are really happy to support events which help to promote the importance of science education to our local young people and we hope that it has inspired some of them to think about science in a different way when it comes to making future subject choices at secondary level.’

Jackie Gorman, Director of the Midlands Science Festival said, ‘The Midlands Science Festival is all about taking science out of the lab and in to places like libraries, theatres and outdoors in order to provide diverse ways for people of all ages to explore the world around them and to learn something new. Most of our festival has been run online this year due to the ongoing pandemic, so we were delighted to team up with Bord na Móna in order to provide this fun, learning event in the great outdoors for the students of Kilcormac National School.’

There is a wide a variety of things to see and do at Lough Boora Discovery Park and it is such a family friendly environment with a host of free activities for all ages. If you haven’t already visited, it is definitely a place to add to your list for any time of the year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SCIENCE PROMOTION FUN WITH BORD NA MÓNA

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, Direc tor of the Midlands Science Festival said,

‘The Midlands Science Festival is all about taking science out of the lab and in to 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 in to 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.’

Nothing Beats Practical Experience!

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 Midlands schools this November. We caught up with Laura Ryan from the Powergen Development part of the company to find out more about Bord na Móna’s work with schools and in the community.

Laura, we are very proud to be partnering with Bord na Mona this year to promote science education across the Midlands. We know that the company has a strong commitment to local schools. Can you tell us about some of the work that you do to encourage young people to pursue a career in science or technology related areas?

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.

I think that nothing beats first-hand experience. Guided tours are available year-round at Bord Na Mona’s largest windfarm, Mountlucas Co. Offaly, providing information on the his tory of the project which was completed in 2014 and the operation of the windfarm to date. Admission is free, open to the public and is proving particularly popular with schools where we have seen a real interest displayed by the students in the workings of the windfarm. The visi tor’s centre has also recently installed an interactive Learning Hub which allows young people to learn more about the wind turbine technology and the national significance of wind energy.

Edenderry power station also provides tours for schools where skilled technicians are on-hand to provide a background on the power plant his tory and operation. The power station is the single biggest consumer of carbon neutral biomass in the country and the tour provides an invaluable learning experience for young people.

Ireland has to completely transform the way that we generate and consume energy for the future. 10% of the country’s renewable electricity needs are generated by Bord na Móna at its power stations and wind farms..Can you tell us about Mountlucas and the role it has to play?

Ireland has one of the best wind resources in Europe and this resource is essential in meeting our 2020 renewable energy target of 16%. Wind energy currently supplies 85% of all renewable electricity generation. The benefits of wind energy to Ireland are significant: major reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in the power sec tor, better energy security for the island and supporting the local economy with job creation.

Mountlucas, one of the largest windfarms in Ireland at 84MW power output, consists of 28 wind turbines which provide enough renewable electricity to power 45,000 homes per year. 125,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide are offset annually due to the windfarm displacing electricity from gas- or coal-fired electricity plants. Developing more windfarms similar to Mountlucas is critical to the future of renewable electricity generation in Ireland.

One of the ways Bord na Mona as a company maintains a close connection to people is by opening up our land to the community. Bord na Móna’s ecology team have been working on local lands to help res tore and rehabilitate former working bogs wherever possible. Can you tell us about some of the interests and activities available to people in the Midlands?

Bord Na Mona, through its Biodiversity Action Plan, has made a formal commitment to rehabilitating its cutaway peatlands. Lough Boora discovery park, located near Tullamore Co. Offaly, is an excellent example of a realisation of this work. The bog has been re-vegetated, in some areas rewetted and now boasts an impressive outdoor sculpture park, amenity pathway and fishing and cycling facilities to name but a few of the onsite amenities.

Mountlucas wind farm includes 7km of public amenity walkways and is also the current host of the Offaly park run which takes place every Saturday.

Providing public access to these sites allows us to inform the community on the rehabilitation and development efforts of the team in Bord Na Mona.

We know that we need to keep working to encourage the next generation to consider science more closely when looking at third level choices. What do you think we can do to make sure more student choose science?

I think that an emphasis should be made on the real-life practical applications of science and technology. Concepts that are taught in the classroom should be related to real-world examples. I always found examples useful in visualising a problem particularly when I was studying physics for my Leaving Cert. With science subjects I think that nothing beats practical experience.

Taking part in events like the Young Scientist should also be encouraged with an emphasis on participation and producing new ideas.

My background is energy engineering and as a student studying engineering I visited different power generation sites. These visits were some of the highlights of the my years in college and I think young people would really respond to more first-hand experience.

 

 

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