More than 11,000 participated in Southeast Science Festival

Minister John Halligan and President Prof Willie Donnelly at the first show by the London Science Museum at WIT, 12 Nov 2018. Photo by Patrick Browne, Browne's Photography.

Minister John Halligan and President Prof Willie Donnelly at the first show by the London Science Museum at WIT, 12 Nov 2018. Photo by Patrick Browne, Browne's Photography.

More than 100 events across Waterford, Wexford, Tipperary and Kilkenny included activities for schools, families and public evening events

More than 11,000 people participated on over 100 events across the south east in November for National Science Week.

The Southeast Science Festival, the regional celebration of National Science Week, was coordinated by Calmast, Waterford Institute of Technology’s STEM Outreach centre with support from SFI and local industry: GSK, MSD, Bausch & Lomb, Sanofi and EirGen Pharma.

Calmast brings science to all

“Science is for all – and Calmast brought science to all through the Southeast Science Festival”, says Sheila Donegan, Director Calmast, “We had more than 100 events in the Southeast which makes the 2018 Southeast Science Festival the largest so far. Thanks to the support of county councils, libraries, local industry and partner organisations, events took place in Tramore, Dungarvan, Kilmacthomas, Dunhill, Lismore, Ferrybank, Mullinavat, Kilkenny, New Ross, Enniscorthy, Carrick-on-Suir, Clonmel and several venues in Waterford. Calmast reached out to more than 11,000 in the region, making science accessible to all audiences and showcasing the important role science has in all our lives.”

More than 100 events took place in counties Waterford, Wexford, Tipperary and Kilkenny including activities for schools, afternoon shows for families and evening events for the general public. More than 11,000 participated in events in the Southeast. In addition, Calmast exhibited at the Wexford County Council’s WexSci Showcase event with about 1,000 visitors.

Huge success

For two weeks, from 5 to 18 November 2018, local, national and international high profile researchers, science communicators and performers presented shows, talks and workshops at WIT and at schools, libraries, theatres and pubs across the Southeast.

“This year’s Southeast Science Festival was a huge success. We had a large variety of events – from circus performances explaining how circus artists use gravity to unicycle, juggle and balance to bubble shows for all the family where everyone got a chance to stand in a giant bubble and evening events at local pubs to learn about the science of gin. It is only because of the support of many groups and companies in the region which enables us to make science accessible to all through such a variety of events. There was something for everyone.” says Cordula Weiss, Calmast Programme Manager.

Evening additions

For the first time, evening events took place in the comfortable atmosphere of local pubs: WIT researchers presented their projects in layman’s terms at the Munster Bar and Caroline Senior, Director Blackwater Distillery, explained the science of gin to Network Ireland members at Tully’s Bar.

Science is for all – this is what Science Week is about. With the support of an interpreter, Mariana Gavendova and Thomas Byrne, postgraduate researchers in chemistry and health sciences at WIT, delivered an exclusive workshop on the human body to a group of Syrian children in primary school age. The children learned the English expressions for different body parts and organs, they got to know the inside of a human body, they studied how the systems of our body work together and they enjoyed an engaging and fun morning outside the classroom.

Open access

In cooperation with the Waterford Area Partnership, Calmast invited DEIS schools in the region to come to the Southeast Science Festival. Pupils who wouldn’t have had access to science events otherwise were able to attend the London Science Museum’s show ‘It takes guts’ at WIT, thus becoming aware of what science means to us and the importance of a balanced nutrition but becoming aware of the many opportunities WIT offers through many courses. The first show was opened by Minister John Halligan and WIT President Prof Willie Donnelly.

Events for families included a fast-paced circus performance by James Soper, the Juggling Scientist, a Guinness World Record holding juggler, fully qualified teacher and ex-professional circus performer, who enthralled and inspired an audience of about 500 at the Theatre Royal.


In Lismore, Calmast and the Lismore Heritage Centre engaged young and old in magical chemistry experiments and intriguing maths puzzles at the Sunday Funday for families. During the week, the London Science Museum presented their ever popular Bubble Show and ‘It takes guts’, the “most disgusting but also the very best show ever” as many pupils declared.

Additional family events took place in libraries in counties Waterford, Tipperary and Kilkenny while primary and secondary schools were invited to attend lectures, shows and workshops during the day at venues all across the Southeast. 13 TY students from counties Tipperary, Kilkenny, Wexford, Waterford and even Westmeath helped at events and were trained to deliver events themselves. They ran workshops for primary schools at libraries in the Southeast.

Everyone has an idea of what science is and means to them – science can be a career, it can make life easier and also be a life saver and more. WIT staff and students captured their own idea of science as part of the Southeast Science Festival’s “Snap Your Science” competition with striking results: it was hard to find a winner as all entries were well thought out and of high photographic and scientific quality. Congrats to PJ Cregg, who won with his entry ‘Droptics’ and the runners up Jenna Lee, Rebecca Power and Daniel Samair.

Inspiring for all

The ever increasing number of events and participants shows how keen people are to learn more about science and how important it is to introduce science and develop curiosity at an early age and to show the possibilities WIT and local companies offers to those considering a career in science. The Southeast Science Festival aims at inspiring young and old to engage with science and technology and at showcasing the opportunities in the region.

All events were free to promote access which is courtesy of resources that WIT puts into the events with the support of major sponsors SFI and local sponsors GSK, MSD, Bausch & Lomb, Sanofi and EirGen Pharma.

Related Courses

Bachelor of Science in  Science (General)
Bachelor of Science (Honours) in  Science (Common Entry)
Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) in  Engineering (Common Entry)
Bachelor of Science (Honours) in  Applied Computing (Common Entry)

Featured News