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Out of this World Activities Planned for Space Week & Maths Week at MIC

Child and adult playing with paper rockets against a blue backdrop

As part of Mary Immaculate College’s (MIC) community outreach and engagement, the College is today (5 October) announcing a series of STEM activities and events that will take place as part of this year’s Space Week and Maths Week.

Spearheaded by MIC’s Enterprise and Community Engagement team, these online activities and events aim to engage and inspire people of all ages, as well as stimulate interest, excitement and debate about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering Mathematics).

Space Week, which will take place from 4-10 October, is Ireland’s newest national STEM week. Running in parallel with World Space Week, this week-long celebration of space will highlight the wonders and realities of the universe around us.

Dr Maeve Liston, senior lecturer in STEM and Director of Enterprise and Community Engagement at MIC, has created a Space Week Activity Pack containing a series of STEM challenges that will teach children to think and act like scientists and engineers. These challenges will guide children on how to make their own air powered rocket using materials found in the home or the classroom.

In addition to the Space Week Activity Pack, Go Fly Your Kite will run two virtual workshops for primary students in Ahalin and Ballingarry National Schools in Co. Limerick. Through using the mechanism of kite making, children will have the opportunity to explore the science of flight, gravity, weight and balance in a fun, exciting and engaging way.

Maths Week will follow from 10-18 October and aims to promote positive attitudes towards mathematics and its applications. Mathematics lecturer, Dr Derek Kitson, will broadcast a virtual maths lecture live from MIC Thurles at 10am on 15 October. Open to all members of the public, Dr Kitson will explore emerging applications of geometry and combinatorics in science and technology.

Dr Maeve Liston has created another STEM Activity Pack for Maths Week containing a series of tricky maths challenges which children will need to consider carefully to find the solutions to. These challenges will help to develop essential skills such as critical thinking, creativity and teamwork, as well foster a deeper understanding of our world through maths.

In addition to the above, MIC will also run a series of online workshops in primary schools in Limerick and Tipperary during Maths Week. Maths educator, Douglas Buchanan, will present a series of ‘Maths is Surprising’ workshops, which will highlight to children how maths is not just about “textbooks and sums” but can also be a subject full of surprises. Planet Science Kidz will also host a number of virtual workshops for primary children using fun experiments designed to encourage children to count, add and subtract.

According to Patricia O’Sullivan, Enterprise and Community Engagement Manager at MIC, “Space Week and Maths Week provide an opportunity for MIC and our student teachers to interact with children through the exploration of STEM subjects. Our STEM outreach initiatives aim to enhance STEM education, and encourage and facilitate the development of the long-term interests, understanding, knowledge and skills in STEM subjects.”

She added, “Despite the challenges presented by COVID-19, we felt now more than ever it was imperative that we continue our STEM outreach work and engage with schools, teachers, children and parents. Our STEM Activity Packs, which can be completed by children at home with a parent or sibling or used as a lesson plan by a teacher in a classroom setting, provide children with experiences of STEM that are fun and engaging, and which inspire curiosity and creative thinking.”

Space Week is an initiative of CIT Blackrock Castle Observatory with support from Science Foundation Ireland and ESERO Ireland. Maths Week is an initiative of Calmast STEM Outreach Hub at Waterford Institute of Technology with more than 50 organisations around Ireland taking part.

You can access the Space Week Activity Pack and Maths Week Activity Pack here

You can access Dr Derek Kitson's maths lecture via Microsoft Teams here.