Free science workshops and talks in Athlone next week for Midlands Science Festival

Jackie Gorman, CEO of Midlands Science, and Dr Craig Slattery, UCD, with a friendly dinosaur. As part of national Science Week, this year’s Midlands Science Festival includes everything from dinosaurs to the science of solving crimes.

Jackie Gorman, CEO of Midlands Science, and Dr Craig Slattery, UCD, with a friendly dinosaur. As part of national Science Week, this year’s Midlands Science Festival includes everything from dinosaurs to the science of solving crimes.

The Midlands Science Festival, which will take place across the region for people of all ages from November 11 to 18, promises a full programme of innovative and fun hands-on events.

Fantastic DNA is a free science workshop based on the topic of DNA, the building block of life. These workshops will take place in Athlone Library on Saturday November 10. Maya Frost and her team of Cell Explorers will show children how to extract DNA from a banana, and there is also a science-based paper finger game to play.

This workshop offers the opportunity to not only meet a scientist but also to act like a scientist. Participants are also introduced to important biological concepts such as cells being the basic unit of life and DNA as the instruction book for the cell through fun activities. This workshop is suitable for children aged seven and up, and is free so go along and enjoy during Science Week.

This is the sixth year that a dedicated and packed programme of free Science Week events is being rolled out in the counties of Laois, Offaly, Westmeath, and Longford.

A key evening public event for Westmeath for this year is all about the science of murder, poisonings, and terrorism. It takes place in the Little Theatre on November 16 and is entitled The Usual Suspects - Toxicology, Forsenics and Psychology. Dr Craig Slattery, a toxicologist and science communicator, will explain the science of poisons. He will be joined by Brian Gibson of Forsenic Science Ireland, who will explore the world of forensics and how it helps solve crimes including murders. Completing this trio is Professor Andrew Silke, who is originally from Athlone and is now based in the UK. He has a background in forensic psychology and criminology. Due to the issues which will be discussed at this event, this event is over 16s only. The area immediately outside the main theatre will be set up as a crime scene with clues for attendees to use to solve the crime, using the QR code reader on their smartphones. The crime scene will be live from 7.30pm on the night.

Inventing The Impossible is another interesting workshop coming to Abbey Road Studios in Athlone on November 17. This will feature artist Paul Timoney in character as Leonardo da Vinci with his colleague Mona Lisa. This workshop allows participants to meet Leonardo and Mona Lisa who will show them some pages from Da Vinci's notebooks and explain his process, emphasising the relationship between focused observation and free imagination. There are still some places available for this event.

Jackie Gorman of Midlands Science said: "We have such a wide array of events this year for County Westmeath. Another one that we are really excited about is our dinosaur event with Dale Treadwell of Naturally Wild who is well known for his RTEjr Television slots with Albie the Why Guy and Dustin the Turkey featuring wildlife to be found in Irish back gardens." Treadwell will be joined by some realistic Cretaceous Creatures on this interactive show and looks forward to meeting as many dinosaur fans as possible this Science Week in Athlone Library on November 17.

For more information and a full programme see www.midlandsscience.ie

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