For the first time since it was founded eight years ago, the Midlands Science Festival took place online this month.
The immersive digital event was part of national science week, which had a core theme of ‘choosing our future’ and focused on how science can improve our lives in the future and the present.
This year’s jam-packed festival enabled schools, teachers, parents and people of all ages to get involved virtually, and thousands of people had the opportunity to enjoy engaging talks, interactive workshops, and presentations in a whole new and innovative format.
“Our first ever virtual festival was a great success,” said the CEO of Midlands Science, Jackie Gorman.
“We were delighted, through support from Science Foundation Ireland, Rethink Ireland, our wonderful event providers and a number of key partnerships, to bring a large number of exciting science events to the Midlands again this year, in spite of the current pandemic.
“We explored everything from marine life and climate action to the science of Star Wars; from astrology and reptiles to ice-cream making and lessons in sustainability.
“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. This is now more important than ever.
“We also have made available online the ‘Dr. Mindflip Ultimate Learning Experience’ as a game on the indie gaming site Itch, and ran a number of short videos during the week with children exploring science in Irish.
“People of all ages had the opportunity to join us from their homes to have a close-up lesson about a whole variety of different topics, all with a science twist.
“Science Week is a wonderful opportunity for small science enthusiasts and their families to see what’s new and innovative in the world of science and technology.
“The festival is a fantastic way to really capture the imagination and show people that science can be fun,” added Jackie.
“We would like to thank the many people involved this year for all their support, diligence and help in managing the delivery of this week-long event to so many people in the Midlands and beyond.
“As a team, we decided earlier this year to host Science Week in a virtual manner, and this took a lot of additional time, training and co-operation from providers and schools.
“This online model was a very different way of doing things but it allowed us to continue to raise awareness and extend people’s real-world understanding of science during such a challenging time.”
Jackie said other highlights of this year’s festival included an inspiring journey into space with Dr. Niamh Shaw; informative public talks on the ‘Science of Resilience’ and the ‘Science of Skin’; and a range of high-level virtual career talks for secondary schools with some of the festival’s industry and academic partners, which, it’s hoped, will encourage more and more students to consider science as a future course and career option.
This year also included an online exploration into Viking Heritage with the National Museum of Ireland and Westmeath Heritage and a unique, interactive British Council Ireland event where participants baked their way to space.
“I wish once again to thank Science Foundation Ireland, all of our partners, speakers, performers, the local media and school venues for making this all possible,” she concluded.