Star Wars, skin, space travel, dinosaurs and Covid-19 on the Midlands Science Week menu

Virtual events this year

Conor Ganly

Reporter:

Conor Ganly

Email:

news@leinsterexpress.ie

STEM science week

STEM expert and author Jon Chase will explore the science of Star Wars

Star Wars, skin, space travel, dinosaurs and Covid-19 resilience are just some of the topics on the menu annual celebration of science in Laois, Offaly, Longford and Westmeath this year.

For the first time in its history, the Midlands Science Festival will be accessible from November 8th – 15th as a week-long digital event as part of National Science Week.

The organisers, Midlands Science, say core theme for Science Week 2020, which is now in its 25th year, is ‘Science Week –Choosing our Future’ focusing on how science can improve our lives in the future and in the present.

They say this year’s festival offering will enable schools, teachers, parents and people of all ages to get involved virtually and it will deliver engaging talks, interactive workshops and presentations in a whole new and innovative format.

The festival team says is conscious that it is more important than ever to continue to provide activities to continue to engage our young people, build optimism and help them to explore science and how it relates to everything in our day to day lives.

Some of the highlights include an inspiring journey into Space with Dr Niamh Shaw. The Irish engineer, scientist, writer and performer was recently voted one of Ireland’s leading science communicators and STEAM specialists. She believes in Dreaming Big and is on a mission to get to Space.

In light of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Science of Resilience is a timely event that will be delivered remotely on Midlands Science youtube and Facebook page.

Irish Psychologist & Psychotherapist, Dr Andrew Magee works closely with health service and the civil service staff on their mental and psychological well-being, will give his insights.

"Resilience is something which has been commercialised in recent years. Resilience is all about a persons’ ability to function well despite very difficult experiences happening at the same time. It is not just about being a magic solution to bouncing back to normal after something negative happens. Resilience takes time and happens in small increments," he said. 

The Science of Skin is the subject of an interview with Dermatology Advance Nurse Practitioner, Fidelma O’ Dowd, who is originally from the midlands and is based in Beaumount Hospital in Dublin.

She said she was really looking forward to sharing some of her experience and insights.

"No matter how much you gaze into the mirror, it can be hard to determine if your expensive skincare regime is working. There are many elements to consider, from how we nourish our skin with the right diet to how we protect it from the sun’s harmful rays," she said.

Another exciting event on the menu is the science of Star Wars with author and scientist Jon Chase for this year’s Midlands Science Festival. So what can Star Wars fans expect form your upcoming virtual Science Week event with Midlands Science?

Jon replied: "Lots of science facts about the lifeforms and technologies seen within the movies, as well as an exploration of what humans currently know about space and how that impacts on the Universe of Star Wars.  Answering questions like how big is space, how old is it, could we find life out there, what’s the best space ships, how close are we to producing various Star Wars technologies?"     

This year also includes an exploration into Viking Heritage with the National Museum of Ireland and a family Discovery Day, which will see the return of some of much-loved activities such Dale Treadwell’s Dinosaur Show, Anyone 4 Science, the Exploration Dome, The Reptile Zoo, Ironman Engineering and Dr Mindflip’s Ultimate Learning Experience.

The organisers are providing a range of virtual career talks for secondary schools with some of industry and academic partners, which they hope encourage more and more students to consider science as a future course and career option.

Jackie Gorman is CEO of Midlands Science.

“The theme this year will explore how science can help us to make positive choices that will impact the environment, our health, and our quality of life. We took the time to evaluate the situation as an organisation before deciding that a virtual festival really was the best way forward for Science Week 2020.

"It allows us to provide most of the events that we had already planned for our audiences, in a safe and secure manner.  This year we are inviting people to step inside a free, virtual science sphere to join top science communicators, workshop presenters, industry experts, science ambassadors and more! This pandemic has really brought an awareness to the way in which we all work, learn and consume information.

"We have been working diligently over the past seven months to adapt to an online model to continue to raise awareness of science and we would like to thank all of our wonderful partners and sponsors who have supported and encouraged us to do this during such a challenging time. Throughout Science Week there will be a variety of ways for you to get involved through events, social media and much more. You can also use and follow #BelieveInScience online,” she said.

Dr. Craig Slattery, is Midland Science Chairperson.

“Sadly, we have seen highly influential public figures around the world openly attempt to undermine or discredit valid scientific information to service their own agendas.  Now, more so than ever, delivering authentic, exciting and informative public science events to the people of the Midlands, young and old, is of the utmost importance.  

"Under normal circumstances, Midlands Science would organise over 100 face-to-face events during the Midlands Science Festival with a combined audience of over 10,000 people each year. Naturally, this year is going to be very different but we are confident that the enjoyment and inspiration on offer will not be!”

More information including the full schedule of events, speaker line-ups, and how to register to check out www.midlandsscience.ie