Scientific steps for Laois students

Miss Mullally and Mr Walsh with project maths students at the recent STEM conference
THINKING STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Maths) was the theme of a recent conference held in Portlaoise College.

THINKING STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Maths) was the theme of a recent conference held in Portlaoise College.

Over three days from May 28 to May 30, almost six hundred 5th class primary school pupils converged on Portlaoise College.

They participated in workshops in STEM related activities with the opportunity to experience for themselves first-hand what these subjects have to offer. Topics covered included food testing, maths problem solving, gear ratios, structures, acids and bases, with all students receiving a certificate of participation at the end.

To follow on from the day workshops students could return with their parents on the last evening Thursday May 30. The evening session included information on the day time activities for the parents followed by guest speakers.

Jim Enright, Director Laois Education Centre opened the proceedings. He was followed by Seamus Knox, Maths Inspector with the Department of Education and Skills who gave a very inspirational talk to parents on Project Maths and the changes it will bring in people’s views on the subject.

Fifth class students also got a choice to participate in Project Maths first hand with a lesson organised by Portlaoise College Maths Department.

After break both parents and students were treated to career talks run by Caitriona Mordan from Engineering Ireland.

She was followed by three local Engineers, Tim Carew (Electrical Engineer), Esther Byrne (Civil Engineer) and Brian O’Driscoll (Aeronautical Engineer). They all spoke passionately about their careers and how they choose to become engineers.

The conference was a joint venture between Laois Education Centre and Portlaoie College with a view to promoting Science related subjects in the midlands. It is hoped that this would be the first of what could be major event.