As the upcoming annual Midlands Science Festival and national Science Week grow closer, local development agency Midlands Science is gearing up to provide an array of incredible events and science fun across the Midlands.  Science Week which is managed by Science Foundation Ireland’s (SFI) Discover Programme has been in existence since the mid-1990s and has grown to around 800 events per year. 

The Midlands Science Festival, which begins on November 9th,  celebrates science in the region with original programming that includes lively debates and lectures, film productions, hands-on workshops and interactive demonstrations for people of all ages. All things science will be explored through shows, demonstrations and talks to advance our understanding and appreciation of everything from astronomy to zoology.

This year’s festival includes a family open day, Travels in Chernobyl, the Science of Harry Potter, Cancer Causes and Cures Myth Busting, National Museum of Ireland outreach events and much more. Popular activities such as science knitting patterns for local knitters and a Science Festival Book Club for adult and younger readers are back again this year. Exploring everything from invisible ink to Darth Vader's voice, the Midlands Science Festival is a unique opportunity to explore science through a diverse programme of interactive events, workshops and shows. This year's festival also includes a strong focus on climate change issues and sustainability and a specially curated ASD appropriate event. Supported by Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) and a number of corporate and academic partners, this is the seventh year of the festival.

Dr. Ruth Freeman, Director of Science for Society in SFI commented,‘Science Week is SFI’s key annual events which aims to foster a greater understanding of the value of science to society and to increase the numbers of young people studying science and related fields.  It gives people a chance to hear from national and global experts who have the ability to engage in conversations about science and technology in an inspiring and motivational way.  Each festival offers an exciting line-up of programming, with a number of influential performers and leaders in their fields sharing their expertise and inviting audiences to join conversations that should encourage us all to be champions of science and curiosity.  SFI is pleased to continue its support of Midlands Science in its efforts to engage with as many people in the region with science fields.’

The Midlands Science Festival itself aims to engage and encourage people of all ages and backgrounds to become leaders of tomorrow. It encourages experimentation, collaboration, inspiring students to solve real-world problems. This is the first year that 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 Marty Jopson of BBC’s The One Show, celebrity Chef Louise Lennox exploring the science of gastronomy and Simon Watt who has regularly featured on Channel 4 and Discovery with his science programmes.

Jackie Gorman, Director of the Midlands Science Festival said, ‘We are delighted through support from Science Foundation Ireland and a number of key partnerships to be bringing a number of exciting science events to the Midlands again this year. We will be exploring everything from climate change to the science of Harry Potter, from bog bodies to quantum physics. Science Week is the essence of diversity. We have always strived to link the science issues we explore in our outreach work with everyday life and experiences and this year, we are more than ever conscious of this, as climate change is a national theme for Science Week. This is an issue which increasingly affects all aspects of our lives. Science can help us understand what is happening and also provide us with the information to make different choices and pursue solutions in the future. We are delighted to again be working with partners such as the local heritage offices, local partnership companies and libraries. As Hermione Granger said “when in doubt, go to the library !” We hope that people will take the opportunity to attend some of the events which we have programmed for this year, they are all free and feature world class experts who are passionate about science and sharing that passion with others.’

The festival takes sciences out of scholarly journals and traditional laboratories into the cultural mainstream in a more accessible, creative and impactful way. It a wonderful opportunity for science enthusiasts to see what’s new and innovative in the world of science and technology. It is also the perfect chance for someone who is just tipping their toe into science for the first time, to participate in over 100 hands-on activities and live performances by science explorers, communicators and experts whose mission it is to educate, entertain, inform and inspire.

Jackie Gorman continued, ‘Every year we want the festival to ignite curiosity and let people discover that science and technology can offer amazing opportunities, often in ways that they may not realise. This year’s calendar of activity is bigger and better than ever. We are delighted to announce some of the key events which will take place in Westmeath this year including Fantastic DNA workshops with Maya Frost and her team of Cell Explorers, Rockateer Roadshow, The Science of Harry Potter and lots more. Keep a close eye on www.midlandsscience.ie for booking details and information which will be added over the coming weeks and please join us in celebrating science in the Midlands this November.’