Science Week is well underway, and if you have yet to engage with all that science, technology, engineering and maths has to offer, we have some suggestions.
Science Week, co-ordinated by Science Foundation Ireland, is a national collaboration between industry, colleges, schools, libraries, teachers, researchers and students to promote public engagement with science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) in Ireland.
This week is the 20th such annual celebration, with more than 800 events taking place across the country, expecting 250,000 participants in all.
School programmes are just one part of the agenda, with plenty of free public events with interactive workshops, science shows, family fun, exhibitions and more for the sci-curious to enjoy.
The full schedule of events can be found at www.scienceweek.ie, which is also home to some fun, easy and informative Science Week activities that can be done at home using everyday items.
The point of it all is to encourage public interest in STEM and to inspire young students to take up these subjects and career paths.
Majority of Irish people think STEM isn’t for them
The recent SFI Science in Ireland Barometer revealed that 87pc of the Irish public believes that research STEM will lead to an improvement in the quality of life in Ireland in the next 20 years, yet 70pc believe STEM is too specialised for them to understand.
“The SFI Science in Ireland Barometer, which we published last month, reinforces the importance of science graduates and careers and Science Week plays a very significant role in attracting future students to study science,” said Prof Mark Ferguson, SFI director-general, in his statement on the report.
“I hope Science Week inspires young people and their parents to choose careers in STEM and I would encourage everyone to look up www.scienceweek.ie to see what events are taking place in their local area and to take part, have fun, learn and be inspired.”
Science Week 2015 incorporates county and regional festivals in locations across the country. Below are just some of the highlights.
The Festival of Curiosity gang is getting involved by transforming the first floor of The Chocolate Factory in the north city centre into a curiosity-filled hub for all the family, with a carnival of hands-on workshops, interactive installations and games. Visitors can expect to indulge in a bit of electronics tinkering, Lego-building, crafting, musical circuit-making and robot building.
Meanwhile, Dublin City Hall will feature the incredibly entertaining storytelling of science educator Catherine McGuinness following in the footsteps of Ireland’s forgotten explorer Dr Thomas Heazle Park, while Wood Quay will play host to The Science of the Circus.
There’ll even be real fossils to be discovered at Cork City Hall, where Dr Maria McNamara will be checking to see if any visitors walk like a dinosaur (with the help of some specialised feet!). Comedian Simon Watt (of Ugly Animals fame) will also be at City Hall with his Dr Death and the Medi-Evil Medicine Show on 14 and 15 November, while an inflatable tunnel will take visitors on a journey of the digestive system and a poster display will highlight women in science, past and present.
Also at City Hall, Tyndall National Institute and the Irish Photonic Integration Centre will be inspiring makers with Littlebits electronics and photonics kits, 3D printers, a renewable energy car, conductive ink and more to play with.
Meanwhile, the award-winning INFANT research centre has organised a Blood & Brainwaves roadshow that lets children become ‘bloody detectives’ looking for mystery molecules and finding out how electric our brains are, elsewhere, at Blackrock Castle, the MaREI research centre will be investigating how we can use satellites to understand climate change every morning.
The Galway Science and Technology Festival will take the celebration of science into next week, running up to 22 November. Here, more than 100 NUI Galway students, academics and researchers are hosting exciting roadshows and on-campus events for primary and post-primary students in the area, culminating in a closing day on the college campus, which expects to attract up to 20,000 visitors.
On this open day, visitors will be able to take part in many interactive shows, presentations and hands-on workshops, learning about the human brain, kitchen chemistry, photonics, engineering for the human body and more. Participants in Cell Explorers will even get the chance to build a DNA double helix and prepare Fantastic DNA to take home.
With a pop-up exhibition dubbed Limerick’s Buzzing Bee, visitors are invited to see the world like a bee, and even communicate like one. Also in Limerick, an electrifying Flames, Flashes and Frozen Flowers show promises to put the wow factor into science with fascinating physics demonstrations and explosive chemistry experiments.
More than 50 events will take place in Waterford, Lismore, Dungarvan, Carrick-on-Suir and New Ross as part of the Robert Boyle Science festival.
This evening, a public lecture from Dr Salvador Macip, University of Leicester, will ask if cancer can be stopped, while throughout the week the Bubble Show from the London Science Museum will pop open the wonderful world of bubbles in Dungarvan Town Theatre.
IT Sligo is bringing science to live theatre performances and stand-up comedy for Science Week, but a major highlight is tomorrow, Thursday, when renowned astrophysicist Jocelyn Bell Burnell, who confirmed the existence of pulsars, will be one of the Institute’s guest speakers.
(Of course, if you can’t be in Sligo for the visiting Univeristy of Oxford professor’s speech, you could always check out her rousing keynote from Inspirefest 2015.)
Photonics maestro Laura Tobin will be hosting two school talks on women in STEM on behalf of Women in Technology and Science (WITS) Ireland as part of the Midlands Science Festival this week, while the alumni of Famelab are hosting science communication skills showdowns in Mountmellick Library, Laois, this Friday.
Delighted to be giving 2 school talks about Women in STEM on behalf of @WITSIreland for @curiouskim1 #midlandssciencefestival #ScienceWeek
— Laurie (@choiceIrregular) November 10, 2015
Also on Friday, Westmeath’s The Little Theatre will host a biologist, a physicist and a psychologist discussing the science that is all around us in our minds, our bodies and the universe in which we live and, on Saturday in Offaly, a group of ecologists will lead tours through Lough Boora Parklands.