Popular TV Chefs coming the Midlands for Science Week!

We are really excited that TV Chefs and food educa tors Louise Lennox and Aisling Larkin for Foodoppi will be coming to the Midlands next week for the Midlands Science Festival to present a show exploring food! Foodoppi’s Molecular Gastronomy Live Event is an exciting, fun, fast-paced science & food show which gives audiences an opportunity to see food become experiments you can eat! The show directly links to the primary science curriculum integrating learning objectives from sections such as Living Things, Energy and Force and Materials and Change. Louise Lennox is one of Ireland’s leading chefs, broadcasters and food writers. Having featured in a number of popular television and radio shows for over 15 years, she is best known as the chef who is “full of personality” from the hit television series, The Restaurant. Aisling Larkin is tv chef, a busy mum of 3, food media broadcaster, feeding and mindful eating coach. Aisling appears each week on Virgin Media One’s Six O Clock Show teaching the nation her creative and functional & umami filled family-friendly recipes..We caught up with Louise in advance of the festival….

Q: Louise, you are a leading chef, food writer, broadcaster, a children’s food media specialist and the co.founder of Foodoppi.com ..can you tell us about Foodoppi and what led you to setting it up?

A: I wanted to share my passion and vision that food literacy is as important as the basic subjects thought in schools across Ireland. We eat at least 5 times a day, every child should leave school with a basic understanding for what food is.

In 2016 I met my business partner Aisling Larkin and we combined over thirty years of experience in food, science and nutrition together and Foodoppi was born.

The name Foodoppi means ‘food learning’ in Finnish. In 2017 Foodoppi was one of 10 companies selected from thousands across Europe to further develop our food education program in Finland, who are the world leaders in education. Foodoppi an Ed Tech company which creates online food and science courses for parents and the Department of Education.

Outside of the classroom Foodoppi began to help parents who were experiencing difficulties in getting their children to eat working with families offering live masterclasses, online courses, webinars and 1:1 online private consultation. I experienced first-hand what the stresses and problems living with a fussy eating child can bring and impact on the child’s well-being. In order to expand our knowledge in this area, we travelled to America and trained at The Texas Children’s Hospital, Hous ton. Part of my mission at Foodoppi is to make food education a global reality and to help change children’s food eating habits for a lifetime. Using science we make food fun, interesting and delicious.


Q: You focus a lot of your work on helping families understand the science of eating, do you have a helpful hint you can share with us for small fussy eaters?

A: Making food fun and playing with purpose.

This is very important part of learning, learning anything. If it is fun it doesn’t feel like learning.

Playing with the food makes it less threatening to your child and increases the likelihood that they will interact with it. Introducing food based play reduces children’s anxiety of thinking they may be forced to put this food in their mouth. Allowing them to explore at there own pace and them taking charge gives a more positive experience.Resulting in a greater change of the child building confidence and tasting the food.

Q:Have you always had an interest in/passion for food?

A:Yes, my mum started up her own food business and I use to help her after school when I was a child. I am dyslexic and I was so lucky to have an incredible teacher Mr.Banville in 5th and 6th class in primary school. He instilled self belief in me when I had none, by giving me homework to simply bake a cake. It was the first time I felt I was good at something and that feeling stayed with me all through my school years when other teachers would put me down. I have so much respect for him as he was able to look beyond the traditional academic ability schools back then scored children’s intelligence. Mr.Banville saw my own personal talents and helped them blossom and for that I will always be so grateful to him.

Q:What is your favourite part of your job?

A:To be honest it is so difficult to pin point just one favourite part. I love how creative and innovate my job is. No two days are the same. It makes me so happy when you see and hear the laughter and fun children have when we work with them. The other side is getting so many emails from parents thanking us for helping their family with getting their children to eat new foods.

Q:Midlands Science is working to encourage more young people to consider science as a future career option. Why are events like the Midlands Science Festival so important do you think?

A: It helps to breakdown the barrier and show cases that science is all around us. It also removes the stereotype that science is white lab coats and very serious. By showcasing how fun science is, we hope to spark an interest and encourage lots of the young people to see science in a different light and a possible future career. In our show “Eat Your Science” we show children that you can learn a lot about science using food and it tastes delicious.

Marty Jopson and his Invisible Worlds show set for Laois!

We are thrilled to have science performer and BBC One Show’s resident scientist , Marty Jopson partaking in this year’s Midlands Science Festival. We caught up with Marty in advance of his shows which will take place in Co. Laois this November..

Marty, what inspired you to pursue a career as a science performer?

After being a research scientist for several years I came to the conclusion that I was always going to be better talking about science than I was doing the research. Also, I’m too fickle and too interested in too many areas of science to focus on one research area. So, I got myself on stage and in front of a camera and started trying to share my own enthusiasm for science.

What kind of things can people expect to experience at your shows?

The Invisible Worlds show I’ll be putting on is my chance to show people a completely hidden world that is literally at our fingertips. I’ll have some top of the range microscopes to show the audience things that are impossible to see. There will be some gross stuff, some freaky things and even some samples taken from the audience.

Why is it important for those working in science to take part in such events as the Midlands Science Festival?

Science is not an optional extra in our 21st century society as pretty much everything around us has a basis in science or engineering. My job and the work of other presenters at the Midland Science Festival is to enthuse the public and give them a look in to that science, since if you don’t understand what its all about how can you really participate in our modern democratic society? That’s the serious answer, but really its all about fun. Science is just cool and interesting and that is generally what drives me to do what I do.

What contemporary scientific issue are you most concerned about?

Climate change. This is the most important issue right now and will be for decades to come.

What is your favourite science fact?

Too many to chose! Generally it’s the last thing I found out. Currently researching a new material science show and the science behind mobile phone screen technology is awesome.

Or – if you want a single fact…

The speed of the tip of a whip is over 1,400 km per hour. Which is faster than the speed of sound so what you hear when a whip cracks is a sonic boom.

Science of Water Workshops for Midlands Primary Schools

We are really looking forward to these workshops in association with Waterways Ireland. This will be another unique opportunity to explore how science can help us to understand the world around us. Environmental expert Paula Farrell will introduce pupils to the rich biodiversity of the water system in Ireland. They will also look at the features of a river and compare the river and canal networks in Ireland. Each group has the opportunity to meet some freshwater invertebrates and newts during hands-on activities throughout the day!

Manus Tiernan, Waterways Ireland Education Officer commented,

‘We are pleased to once again collaborate with the Midlands Science Festival team to host a series of interactive workshops to Midlands schools during Science Week 2019. The workshops will be delivered by Paula Farrell from the Irish Peatland Conservation Council and will be action packed with lots of hands on activities sure to enthral participants! Events like these introduce science and the world around us in an informative but also fun and interesting way. During our workshops, students will have the opportunity to learn and discuss the journey rivers take from source to sea and compare this with the man-made structure of the Grand Canal. As these two features within the Irish landscape pass through our towns and villages the workshops will turn its focus on the variety of wildlife that call these waterbodies their home. The young people taking part will get an opportunity to experience life from beneath the water surface with a live freshwater invertebrate identification session. Waterways Ireland strives to be actively engaged in the communities where we operate so we are delighted to be teaming up with the science festival again help to promote the importance of science education to our local young people.’


#believeinscience @waterwaysirelan

Pho to: Looking back on a Science Week Waterways Ireland workshop in 2016

‘Travels in Chernobyl’ for Athlone during Science Week

Midlands Science is delighted to announce a key public event happening in Athlone next month as part of the annual Midlands Science Festival. This event will take place on November 12th at 6:30pm in Athlone Library and will explore the accident at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant which took place on April 26th, 1986. The radiation exposure to the Irish population, as a result of the Chernobyl accident, has been estimated based on the large number of foodstuffs and environmental samples measured at the time. It was calculated that Chernobyl resulted in an approximate three per cent increase in radiation exposure to the average Irish person in the twelve months following the accident.

Science teacher, writer and birdwatcher Rory Duffy will explore the science of Chernobyl and his recent visit to the site. The discussion will be moderated by toxicologist, Dr Craig Slattery of UCD and he will be joined by Prof Gillian O’Brien of John Moores University Liverpool. Gillian has a special interest in dark tourism and the human fascination with disaster sites.

Rory Duffy said,
‘A real understanding of science involves whole-life learning beyond the confines of the classroom so I am really looking forward to participating in this year’s Midlands Science Festival; which brings science out in to the wider local community. Events like these provide unique opportunities to explore a whole range of subjects and themes with people of all ages, helping to improve public engagement and ideally leading to an increased uptake in STEM education courses. We need to really focus on supporting our young people in developing their core science and technology skills, both within and outside of the science lab. We need to work in collaboration with partners to raise awareness and encourage and influence participation in STEM and the annual Midlands Science Festival is an ideal way to increase our efforts to do this.’

Every year during Science Week and indeed throughout the rest of the year, the Midlands Science team endeavour to make science exciting for everyone by featuring lively, high profile talks, hands-on activities and fascinating demonstrations where the extraordinary properties of science, technology, engineering, and math collide!

You can find ways to join the conversation by checking www.midlandsscience.ie for details of events happening during Science Week 2019 across the region.

Myth Busting Cancer event in Tullamore

Local development company, Midlands Science are delighted to announce a public event which will take place during this year’s annual Midlands Science Festival. At this free event, Dr Robert O’Connor, Head of Research with the Irish Cancer Society and Dr Craig Slattery, Asst Professor of Toxicology & Regula tory Affairs at UCD will explore how citizens and patients can become more fully informed about cancer causes and cures, whilst also debunking some persistent myths around cancer causes and treatments. Questions and discussion with the audience will be a big part of the event which will take place in Offaly County Library, Tullamore on November 15th at 4:00pm.

Dr. Craig Slattery, Chairperson of Midlands Science said,

‘There are many persistent myths and half-truths around cancer causes, or about possible cures that might be available. These ideas are often presented attractively and can spread through social media and other media channels. But false information about cancer can lead to unnecessary anxiety among the public, and can interfere with patients making truly informed decisions about their cancer treatment. By highlighting some of these issues, the general public can be empowered to make better choices around their own health and treatment options. We are delighted to deliver this event in conjunction with the Irish Cancer Society, and invite members of the public, young and old, to come along for what’s sure to be an interesting and informative afternoon.’

The Midlands Science Festival brings science, technology, engineering, and maths to an audience of all ages every year through demonstrations, talks, performances and debates. Events promoting science are central to ensuring that critical thinking is encouraged and this is essential in a developing a society where science sits firmly and securely promoting the wellness of its citizens. A key goal of the festival’s events team is to provide useful and informative discussion during a week that is also jam packed with fun, engaging workshops and performances for the younger folk.

Dr. Robert O’ Connor, Irish Cancer society commented,

‘We are pleased to work in collaboration with as many national and regional organisations as possible in order to help educate and inform the public and bust some popular myths around cancer. We also want to expand our outreach in to communities and inspire the next generation to pursue careers in science. Schools, parents and corporate leaders must work together to find innovative ways to ignite curiosity and nourish a passion for STEM in young people. We are delighted to team up with Midlands Science and UCD for this event which is part of an overall festival which encourages people of all ages to learn more about science and the research that we so critically need for the future of our society.’

Maths Week 2019 in the Midlands

We had a great session on #careers involving #maths in #longford yesterday and today we are in #offaly and #westmeath. Cpl provided an independent and comprehensive overview of careers involving maths with a particular focus on software development all this week across the midlands and it’s great to be working with Ireland’s leading recruitment company and getting such an engaged response from students of all ages.

Superhero Scientist is back!

Barry W. Fitzgerald, BW Science, author of Secret Science of Santa Claus & Secrets of Superhero Science.
pho to: 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 communica tor. 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 Oc tober 2019.

Barry is also the edi tor-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!’

So much to explore and discover!

Excitement is building about our free Discovery Day which takes place in Tullamore’s Sacred Heart School this November 9th! The event is free but booking is required and if you cannot attend, please cancel your place so it can be re-allocated.

We have Dr Mindflip’s Ultimate Learning Experience, the Exploration Dome, the Reptile Zoo, Anyone 4 Science, the 501st Legion, Dale Treadwell’s Dinosaur Show, Cell Explorers and much more !

Councillor Tony McCormack commented,

‘I am delighted to support local development company Midlands Science to help them present a day of fun, engaging events which really show the wide variety of science-related subjects in a fun and interactive way. People of all ages are invited to book a free place to get involved with a series of amazing experiments and activities, workshops, demonstrations and mini-lectures all aimed at engaging and inspiring the next generation through hands-on play and interaction. Midlands Science do amazing work all year round to support STEM and it’s great to see them working with the Sacred Heart School here in Tullamore.’

Come along and make some ice cream, meet a s torm trooper, hold a tarantula, explore the night’s sky and visit the 1960’s with Dr Mindflip.

#steam #believeinscience

Watch this space!

Our current expression of interest call for free school workshops is now closed. We will be contacting all those schools who submitted in November to schedule and watch this space for our next expression of interest call. Thanks to all who responded – there’s overwhelming interest in the Midlands in having #stem workshops in primary and secondary school settings.

Science – we come to you ! #science #believeinscience

Throwback to Mental Fitness advice for World Mental Health Day

Today is World Mental Health Day which celebrates awareness for the global community in an empathetic way, with a unifying voice, helping people to feel hopeful by empowering them to take action and to create lasting change. Today, people from over 150 countries around the world will unite in a fight for mental health education, to create awareness for those who are struggling or know somebody who is.

Back in 2015, we were delighted to have clinical psychologist Dr Eddie Murphy who spoke to students in schools and at a packed out public event all about mental fitness as part of the Midlands Science Festival.

Eddie Murphy said,

‘I am passionate about our mental health and wellbeing. I work in the HSE where I manage a team providing psychology services to young children, teenagers, adults and older adults with emotional, intellectual and physical challenges. I am a clinical psychologist – which is like a GP of emotional health.’

We had some really successful mental fitness events that week and hope that some of the things that were shared on the night helped a few people.   This years theme for World Mental Health Day is ‘Suicide Prevention’, as set by the World Federation for Mental Health.