Innovate and Inspire with Science and Technology Role Models

What does it mean to pursue a career in science or engineering?  What job opportunities are available to those with degrees in these fields? What skills do you need to have a career in science or to become an engineer? As part of this year’s Midlands Science Festival, which takes place across the region this November as part of Science Foundation Ireland’s national Science Week, a series of careers talks will take place virtually in local schools to hopefully answer some of these questions. The theme for Science Week 2021 is Creating Our Future, directly supporting the national research conversation. ‘Creating Our Future’ is a conversation between the people of Ireland, to gather your ideas on what problems you’d like research and innovation to deal with, to create a better future for all.

Volunteers for this careers initiative are from life sciences organisations, engineering and technology companies, as well as from academia. A number of role models with science or technology backgrounds will deliver career talks to secondary students online to demonstrate why a career in science is a good choice. Some of the speakers are past pupils of the schools they will virtually attend during Science Week 2021. Midlands Science is also pleased to once again partner with Irish Manufacturing Research (IMR) to pre-record a unique STEM careers event called Innovate and Inspire with STEM. This event will be available for secondary school registration and will include interviews with STEM professionals and a Questions and Answer session also.

Isabel Meza Silva, from Irish Manufacturing Research (IMR) said,

‘Many challenges still exist when trying to attract young people into science and technology roles so IMR is delighted to be a part of this year’s Midlands Science Festival and we look forward to talking to as many students as possible to spread the message that there are so many potential opportunities in the worlds of science, technology and engineering. As part of Science Week 2021, we are pre-recording a STEM careers event which will feature a relaxed interview with three young people working in the following roles; a female product engineer, a female software engineer and a male Virtual reality specialist. Join us for this thought-provoking discussion and find out how advances in technology are changing the world around us and gain insight into how different people can have their own individual routes to STEM which might not always take a traditional path.’

Jackie Gorman, Midlands Science CEO said,

“ We know from talking to the students we visit every year that they want to see how their learning connects to the world after school so we are really grateful to all of the companies participating in this year’s festival. Their input is vital in helping us in our goal to inspire and empower the next generation of creative young minds to consider a career in STEM. More needs to be done to ensure that STEM is being promoted as a viable career path for everyone so we are also delighted to collaborate with IMR to host this special virtual careers event and look forward to showing students how exciting and dynamic STEM can be.

We have a wide variety of career talks this year; some will be pitched at students from Transition Year upwards and some will be delivered to younger students who haven’t yet made specific future subject choices.  It is so important that we provide speakers who can talk to young people about their own experiences and also about the wide variety of careers on offer. In the past we have had zoologists and botanists, science marketing managers and toxicology experts! This year we also have a wide variety of STEM roles up for discussion from environmental and software engineers to life sciences consultancy and STEM recruitment.”

 

 

Offaly Past Pupils to Deliver Inspiring Career talks

As part of Science Week 2021, Midlands Science is delighted to be teaming up with Arup; an independent firm of designers, planners, engineers, project managers, consultants and technical specialists, working across every aspect of today’s built environment. This year’s Science Week, which is managed by Science Foundation Ireland’s (SFI) Discover Programme, will take place from 7-14 November and is focused on Creating Our Future, the national conversation on research in Ireland. As part of the Midlands programme, Debbie Flynn (Environmental Consultant) and Una O’Grady (Senior Civil Engineer) will deliver virtual presentations to schools in Offaly.

Ahead of the virtual event, Debbie Flynn of Arup commented,

‘Arup is delighted to partake in this year’s Science Week by virtually visiting a number of local Midlands schools. We hope that sharing our stories about how we chose our career paths and the variety of projects we work on every day will shed some light on what it means to work in STEM. It is an honour to partner with Midlands Science and hopefully inspire the students to follow their interests and choose careers where they can make a difference.’

Debbie, who is originally from Kilcormac in Co. Offaly, will share how her degree in Environmental Science has enabled her to work in a role where she assesses and advises on environmental impacts, develops environmental management plans and scopes planning and permitting requirements for engineering projects around Ireland. She will share the key pieces of advice she has for the students as they begin making decisions about third level education.

Una, hailing from Birr in Co. Offaly, will tell the students about her career delivering energy and sustainability projects in Ireland and abroad. As a member of Arup’s Energy team, she is currently working on projects to transition the energy sector to lower carbon emissions and help meet climate change targets. She is looking forward to telling the students about the myriad of opportunities STEM careers provide to contribute to solving the challenges faced in today’s world.

CEO of Midlands Science, Jackie Gorman said, ‘We are really looking forward to virtually visiting schools across the Midlands during Science Week to give students the opportunity to learn more about the latest in science careers and to talk to them about the world of opportunities associated with it as a sector. We would like to take this opportunity to thank Arup and our many other corporate speakers who will be giving their time to help us celebrate and showcase all things science.’

Free Virtual Vikings Event for Longford Schools

Viking Hack Silver

Midlands Science is pleased to announce details of a unique, virtual Science Week event for Longford schools, which is part of an ongoing collaboration with the Education Department of the National Museum of Ireland.  This year’s events are also presented in partnership with the Heritage Office of Longford County Council where the National Museum will host a live virtual workshop from Dublin to interact with primary school pupils in Co. Longford. Children will learn about what archaeology and science can tell us about the past and about the arrival of the Vikings to Ireland and their impact on the Midlands.

 

Siobhan Pierce, Education and Outreach Officer, Archaeology & Natural History at National Museum of Ireland commented,

‘We are delighted to be offering this virtual National Museum of Ireland event to schools in Longford as part of Science Week 2021 and it has been specially designed to suit pupils who are currently in 3rd and 4th classes. This event will include the first public broadcast of newly created videos about the Vikings in Ireland and the Midlands, and the role that archaeology and science plays in understanding our past. The videos were filmed with Museum education staff in the Museum’s Viking Ireland exhibition and use the unique collection of objects from archaeological excavations in Dublin and around Ireland to explain the archaeology of the Vikings in Ireland and in particular in Co. Longford. We are looking forward to interacting with as many people as possible on the day.’

 

There is no limit to number of classrooms in Longford that can log in and classes will be provided with a private link to YouTube. They will be allowed to ask questions via the ‘chat’ feature on YouTube.

 

Máiréad Ni Chonghaile, Heritage Officer of Longford County Council said,

 

“We are delighted to be partnering with the National Museum of Ireland and Midlands Science for Science Week. It is great to see that these types of education workshops can still take place even if we are not yet in a position to do so in-person. It is a fantastic opportunity to promote science education to Longford pupils in a unique way which also explores and teaches us about our rich archaeological heritage.”

 

This workshop will be hosted by National Museum of Ireland educators Siobhán Pierce and Trisha Ryan and will show Viking material found in Co. Longford including the Lough Kinale Hoard from the 9th-10th century.”

 

 

This is the third year of the partnership between the Midland Science and National Museum of Ireland, which each Science Week since 2019, has resulted in specially created workshops and events for midland counties by staff of the NMI to people in the midlands. Midlands Science is focused on not only providing science and technology activities during Science Week but also believe it is really important to also explore the link between science and the arts, heritage and culture. This National Museum event is a fantastic way to do this. See www.midlandsscience.ie and joins us in a range of recorded events as we celebrate Science Week 2021.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Midlands Science and ESB Deliver Science Outreach to Midlands Schools

Midlands Science is pleased to announce a recent collaboration with Ireland’s leading energy utility, ESB, which seeks to provide young people with the tools to participate in science as an act of engaged citizenship. This exciting initiative, “Everyday Science” will take place in a number of secondary schools across the Midlands in the coming weeks including, St. Brendan’s Birr Community School in Birr, Mountmellick Community College and Oaklands Community College in Edenderry.

Pat Naughton, Director of People and Organisation Development at ESB commented,

‘Our position as Ireland’s foremost energy company makes us a vital part in building a brighter, more sustainable future so ESB is delighted to work with Midlands Science to showcase the importance of science, technology, engineering and maths education. Supporting young people, adults and our potential future workforce to engage with STEM is a key aspect of our own work within the community. It is important to introduce young children to STEM at an early age in order to spark that curiosity to learn more and we also need to demonstrate its diversity and relevance by showing how important it is to solving challenges across all aspects of everyday life.’

A key part of the work carried out by not-for-profit organisation, Midlands Science, throughout the year is to work with companies, students, scientists, teachers, and community members to explore and solve STEM related challenges related to issues that affect their communities and experience of life. Connecting to real-world and more relevant topics helps young people to develop a deeper understanding of STEM concepts.

CEO of Midlands Science, Jackie Gorman said,

“Everyday Science” will be delivered by RTE Junior’s award-winning scientist, Philip Smyth and using a range of workshop topics from Sustainability and Climate Change to Taste, Music and Future Tech, this project seeks to equip young people with the tools to actively engage with science in ways which will inform their future development as active citizens and a transition into adulthood, making decisions as consumers and citizens based on evidence. This is closely aligned to Science Foundation Ireland’s and Government policy which endeavours to have the most scientifically literate public in the world. In addition to students in selected schools taking part in this programme, teachers will be trained as facilitators as part of the programme, so they can cascade their learning to other groups which we will encourage the development of as part of the programme. Building a better future is a responsibility we all share and working with companies such as ESB enables Midlands Science to play a small part in this so we are very grateful to have this opportunity and look forward to continuing to inspire students across the region in the weeks ahead.’

Photo: Phil Smyth

 

Virtual Midlands Science Festival Returns this November

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

Preparations are well underway for this year’s Midlands Science Festival which takes place online again this year as part of national Science Week 2021. This year’s Science Week, which is managed by Science Foundation Ireland is focused on Creating Our Future, the national conversation on research in Ireland.

The Midlands Science Festival, which begins on November 6th with a virtual Discovery Day, celebrates the world of science with imaginative programming that is bursting with lively interviews and career talks, film productions, hands-on workshops and interactive demonstrations for people of all ages.

Jackie Gorman, CEO of Midlands Science said,

‘As an organisation, we took the decision to keep our festival on a virtual platform once more for 2021 because while some of our audiences may be ready to revert to hosting events in-person, others are not. Our Festival aims to connect people with scientists, engineers, and technologists and we managed to successfully do that online last year with plenty of engaging activities for adults and young people to enjoy. This year will follow a similar pattern beginning with our Discovery Day, which is kindly supported by local medical device company, Integra Lifesciences. This will be aired on November 6th and will feature a range of fun and exciting activities such as the Reptile Zoo, Exploration Dome and Superhero Science. This event is free of charge but must be pre-booked via our website.’

 

The Midlands Science Festival encourages collaboration and once again this year, Midlands Science will be partnering with organisations such as the National Museum of Ireland to demonstrate that important connection between science, culture and the arts. The week-long programme will also feature events  with Dublin Zoo, sea-life exploration with Marine Dimensions, lively experiments with Anyone4Science and much more! It a wonderful opportunity for science enthusiasts to see what’s new and innovative in the world of science and technology.

Welcoming the announcement of the Midlands Science Festival, Dr Ruth Freeman, Director of Science for Society, Science Foundation Ireland, said:

“We are delighted to be organising the 26th Science Week with the theme Creating Our Future. As Ireland’s biggest week of the year in terms of engaging the public in all things science, we aim to ignite and facilitate a discussion around the future we want and the role science can play in creating that future. With our partners we are excited to deliver a fantastic variety of virtual and in-person events to the public, so there are opportunities to discover, create, and engage with science wherever you are.

“As the government’s Creating our Future campaign culminates shortly after science week, we would encourage everyone that engages with Science Week to visit the creatingourfuture.ie website to submit their thoughts and ideas on the scientific research they believe should be carried out to create a better, shared future. This Midlands Science Festival will provide an opportunity for the public attend events and discussions that I hope will inspire ideas for future research.”

Each year, this festival offers workshops and events which span a diverse range of subjects that encompass science in the broadest sense, promising something for everyone.

Jackie Gorman continued,

‘We are delighted through support from Science Foundation Ireland and a number of key partnerships to be bringing a number of stimulating science events to the Midlands this November. All things science will be explored through shows, demonstrations and interviews to advance our understanding and appreciation of everything from chocolate to star-gazing. We will also be delving into a range of relatable public issues from the importance of joint health, to ecology and environmental concerns like flooding. Science can help us understand what is happening around us and also provides us with information to make different choices in the future. We hope that people will take the opportunity to virtually attend some of the events which we have programmed for this year, they all feature world class experts who are passionate about science and they love to share that passion with others.’

Throughout Science Week there will be a variety of ways for you to get involved through events, social media and much more. Please check our website for details which will be updated soon www.midlandsscience.ie and you can also use and follow #CreatingOurFuture and #ScienceWeek online.

Further details about Midlands Science can be found on www.midlandsscience.ie and it can be found also on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. Midlands Science is also encouraging everyone this year to take part in Ireland’s biggest brain storm by visiting www.creatingourfuture.ie, where you can submit your ideas for things you’d like researchers in Ireland to work on.

 

NOTES FOR THE EDITOR:

Midlands Science is a not-for-profit company which develops and delivers innovative STEM [science, technology, engineering and maths] outreach programmes and events in the Midlands counties of Laois, Offaly, Longford and Westmeath. They provide opportunities for people of all ages to explore and discuss issues of scientific interest, recognising that science is a unique and valuable part of our culture and society.  These opportunities include school outreach, public events, a regional science festival, capacity building for others doing STEM outreach and a range of special projects. All activities are provided free of charge to participants. The organisation is funded by Rethink Ireland, Science Foundation Ireland, The Naughton Foundation, The Ireland Funds Private Donor Network and a wide range of corporate and philanthropic sources.

 

 

 

 

Maths and Fun in Equal Measures with Midlands Science

Maths Week has been taking place in Ireland every year since 2006 and it will kick off again this October 16th across the country. Maths Week has grown to attract participation from as many as 300,000 people annually across Ireland yet often, we still don’t realise that maths is everywhere and part of all facets of everyday life. Midlands Science is pleased to be delivering a number of virtual events during Maths Week across the region this October as part of its ongoing work to help promote Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) to people of all ages.

CEO of Midlands Science, Jackie Gorman said,

‘We live in a world of numbers and algorithms and as adults we see first-hand how important it is to be confident with maths; it really is a life skill. Midlands Science is delighted to support Maths Week by working with expert providers who can help children to see the lighter aspects of maths by connecting it to real life scenarios such as using it in household tasks or in activities like counting your steps. Maths Week is a great opportunity to create a more positive view of maths and to develop a deep and long-lasting understanding of it as a subject. It also gives us adults a reminder to build our own maths skills, something we can all improve throughout our lives.’

Midlands Science and its providers have an abundance of experience in managing initiatives which focus on creating a more positive outlook towards maths. It seeps into most aspects of life whether we realise it or not and introducing children to more captivating and interactive activities can help bring the subject to life. As part of this year’s Maths Week celebrations, Midlands Science is teaming up Dr Niamh Shaw, Anyone4Science and the Exploration Dome to run workshops which help encourage pupils to see the fun side of maths.

Christine Campbell of ‘Anyone4Science’ is one of the providers who will be running events for pupils in the Midlands during Maths Week.

Christine said,

‘I believe that the most important thing we can do for our children is to ensure that they expect to be good at maths. There are lots of household tasks involving numeracy to inspire them. Make shopping lists, work out how many eggs you need to buy, let the kids bake and maybe using half quantities. Learning for younger pupils should be fun, challenging and rewarding. Let your child know that you too are good at maths, use it regularly and include them in everyday maths and try to have fun with it.’

 

Sugar, Spice & Everything Science Virtual Forum for the Midlands

Midlands Science is pleased to host the second event in its Science Communities Programme on September 22nd, at 10am (on zoom) and this interactive forum will focus on Food and Alcohol. This event is free of charge and open to everyone. The Science Communities project is funded by Science Foundation Ireland through the Discover Award programme and is designed to build impactful dialogue and discussion between community groups in the Midlands and those involved in science and public policy.

Jackie Gorman, CEO of Midlands Science commented,

‘Science generates solutions for everyday life and helps us to understand and answer the many mysteries of the world around us. Public understanding and engagement with science is so important in order to ensure people can relate it to their everyday lives and also to enable citizens to make informed personal and professional choices. We are delighted to be hosting our second Science Communities forum and we have three fantastic speakers lined up for you – Clodagh Crehan from the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) will be discussing food labelling/food advertising, Dr. Clare Reynolds from UCD will be looking at Sugar and it’s effects on the body and Anne Doyle from the Health Research Board (HRB) will be presenting the findings from a recent report published by the HRB on alcohol use in Ireland and the consequences of our alcohol consumption. Don’t forget we are also running a free LIFT facilitation training day on October 14th and this training day is available to all Science Communities participants.

Other upcoming Science Communities events will include discussions on Viruses, Vaccines and Immunity – The Science of Diseases and Medicine and Health – Who and how we can trust? The project will continue to run during the months of October and November.  If you are interested in taking part in this project please email outreach@midlandsscience.ie 

 

For registration details, please check our website on https://www.midlandsscience.ie/

Midlands Science partner with Energia on Science Outreach in Laois

Energia Scoil Bhríde, Portlaoise.
Photograph Liam Burke/Press 22

Midlands Science is delighted to announce a new collaboration with Laois County Council and leading Irish energy provider, Energia, which will see science education outreach being delivered to schools in the Portlaoise area in the coming months. Portlaoise has recently been designated as Irelands First Low Carbon Town and this special outreach education programme, has been designed to create awareness of climate change science and action.

Jackie Gorman, CEO of Midlands Science said,

The Climate Action Plan is Ireland’s roadmap to becoming a climate neutral economy and resilient society by 2050. Becoming a climate resilient society will help us to cope with the impacts of a changing climate. Young people care about the environmental crisis and climate action because it is their future which will be impacted by the worse effects of climate change. Midlands Science is delighted to team up with Energia and Laois County Council in providing a number of science education workshops over the coming months with the help of Declan Holmes from Science Ireland. A transformational shift in the way our society and economy operate is needed and students are more likely to change their behaviours and encourage their parents to join them if they better understand the science of climate change. These workshops will teach them more about climate and environmental impact, but it will also be interactive and include brainstorming and teamwork opportunities on certain aspects of climate change education.’

Portlaoise has been designated as Ireland’s first Low Carbon Town under both the National Development Plan – Ireland 2040 and the Climate Action Plan 2019.  As a designated “Decarbonisation Zone” Portlaoise Town must deliver a range of climate mitigation, adaptation and biodiversity measures driven by Laois County Council to address local low carbon energy, greenhouse gas emissions and climate needs to contribute to national climate action targets.  At a minimum, these outcomes must be capable of meeting the Government’s targets for carbon emissions reductions specifically an average 7% per annum reduction in overall greenhouse gas emissions from 2021 to 2030 (a 51% reduction over the decade).

One of the main ways of delivering these targets is by supporting and encouraging behavioural change so this outreach programme is essential to engage with younger generations and through their involvement the message can permeate through to parents and grandparents and the wider community as our youth are incredibly motivated and effective communicators of climate action.

Amy O’ Shaughnessy, Marketing Acquisition & Sponsorship Manager for Energia said,

“At Energia we are partnered with communities and business all across Ireland to make sustainable improvements that benefit the local environment, and also contribute toward the goals of Ireland’s national Climate Action Plan. We believe that local action makes a national difference, and as such are delighted to partner with Midland Science and Laois County Council, two organisations that are as committed as we are to positive change. At Energia, we supply 100% green electricity, with a clear focus on innovation and technology that is evident across our renewable developments and smart home solutions. This partnership is very much in line with the support we provide communities, and we look forward to assisting our partners and the pupils of Portlaoise in further understanding climate action and in making their own positive changes.”

 

Seek the Evidence with Midlands Forum

Local development company, Midlands Science is pleased to announce the first event which will take place later this summer as part of its new Science Communities project, which is funded by Science Foundation Ireland through the Discover Award programme. This initiative is designed to build impactful dialogue and discussion between community groups in the Midlands and those involved in science and public policy.

The first forum which is scheduled to take place online on August 19th will focus on ‘Science in everyday life. Science and scientific evidence.’ As citizens and consumers, we make decisions every day that are affected by science. From miracle anti-aging serums to cures for diseases, this event will open discussion on how we understand science and how to discern evidence so we can make good decisions for ourselves.  Participants will explore different scientific disciplines, the meaning of scientific evidence and whether we can we trust it? It will also look at the quality of research against what is just sensationalised.

Key event speaker, Dr Isabela Aparicio from the Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland commented,

‘I’m really looking forward to joining the new Midlands Science programme, Science Communities and to virtually engage with this group over the coming months. We are constantly bombarded with scientific information on the news and social media. In particularly over the past year, the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted this information overload, and we have seen rising levels of mixed reporting, misinformation, fake news, and even conspiracy theories, making it very difficult for the public to know on what to trust. We have a pressing need to know how to access the reliable evidence and we hope that in running this forum as part of the overall Science Communities project that we can engage the public and help them to question what they hear in everyday media.’

Other upcoming Science Communities events will include discussions on Sugar, Spice & everything Science – The Science of Food & Alcohol,  Viruses, Vaccines and Immunity – The Science of Diseases and Medicine and Health – Who and how we can trust?

The project will run during the months of August, September, October and November.  If you are interested in taking part in this project please email outreach@midlandsscience.ie 

 

Midlands Science Launch 2020 Annual Report

Midlands Science has this week launched its annual report for 2020. This report is presented at a time when there is more global awareness than ever before of the role of science and technology in comprehending and handling infectious disease. Against a dramatically different backdrop and as the world jointly tackles Covid-19, Midlands Science has continued to engage in valuable STEM education development work over the past year.

Jackie Gorman, CEO of Midlands Science said,

‘So many aspects of life have undoubtedly changed over the past twelve months as we have worked together to stop the spread of the virus. In a time of great disruption and uncertainty, we have seen everyone coming together collectively for the common good. I would like to express my sincere thanks to all of Midlands Science trustees, global and Irish partners and sponsors and all other providers and associates for their ongoing support as we work towards a well-qualified and increasingly diverse STEM skills base here in the Midlands region. We had a total of 22, 245 participants last year across all activities. As the whole world is striving to contain Covid-19, one of the things that we can be certain of is the vital role that science is playing in helping to bring this pandemic to an end.”

The ongoing global crisis has really brought an awareness to the way in which we all work, learn and consume information and is having rapidly evolving impacts on global business practices.  Midlands Science is funded by a number of public, private and philanthropic sources including the Ireland Funds Donor Network and Rethink Ireland, which provides funding and vital capacity building supports.

Deirdre Mortell, CEO of Rethink Ireland commented,

‘Midlands Science were awarded a Rethink Ireland grant in 2018. With the Covid-19 pandemic, we are all suddenly virus experts, generating an opportunity to continue generating interest in STEM education among young people. Midlands Science engages and encourages young people to pursue careers in science-related fields and shows them that science can be exciting and meaningful, as well as educational. It has been a privilege to play a part in their journey.”

Unfortunately, the pandemic is not yet over but as we look towards recovery, Midlands Science will continue to deliver to deliver impactful science education awareness particularly in the Midlands – working in partnership across the outreach ecosystem and with industry, Government and academia.  Details of all activities which were undertaken in 2020 are detailed in the annual report which will be available to view on www.midlandsscience.ie and we look forward to continuing this work with everyone who has a stake in realising future STEM related education development opportunities here in the Midlands in the coming years

#believeinscience

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