Spraoi & SprÓg!

Calmast, Waterford Institute of Technology’s ground-breaking STEM Engagement Centre took to the streets of Waterford recently for Spraoi with shows, demos and loads of fun activities for young and old. In the week prior to Spraoi, Calmast presented workshops and shows as part of the SprÓg Festival in Garter Lane. Young children had the chance to learn about the science of colour, through a range of fun hands on activities. A new workshop this year focussed on the science of plastics, from their manufacture to threats to the environment. Families were invited to learn about the “ Fundamentals of Science” in a fun filled explosive show.

For the Spraoi weekend, among the music and street theatre the scientists and mathematicians of Waterford Institute of Technology rocked their number based fun with help from internationally acclaimed Physics Buskers, Mathematical Entertainer Caroline Ainslie and Juggling Scientist James Soper, who also presented shows in Garter Lane Theatre.

The STEM volunteers brought science and maths activities to the streets of Waterford, converting Hanover St to a STEM St for Spraoi. Making giant balloon shapes, Caroline Ainslie introduced a younger audience to maths activities in her Bubbly Maths Show. James Soper aka the Juggling Scientist explained the maths of juggling while riding a unicycle on the streets of Waterford and also in Garter lane. According to Ben Dolan, Maths Ireland Digital Engagement Manager, the experiments, chemistry demos, hands-on physics, and mathematical games and puzzles had a broad appeal. “It’s truly inspiring to see people of all ages engage with maths, and to see the wonder on their faces at the science of the unexpected. It’s great to have so many people try out our experiments and maths activities. Activities like this bring STEM to the community. Many people might not choose to go to a STEM event, but bringing STEM onto the streets we are engaging with a new audience. We had all ages involved, grandparents with their grandchildren, teenagers, adults, children, all experimenting, problem solving and having fun with science and maths.”

These STEM events are supported by Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT), Garter Lane Arts Centre, the overall coordinator of the SprÓg Festival, and local companies EirGen Pharma, Sanofi, Bausch and Lomb, GSK and MSD. Dolan says “We are thrilled to be part of something which brings joy to people and brings them together in a friendly, fun filled environment. We are specially thankful to Spraoi organisers, all the volunteers, security and technical people who make the festival possible and to the thousands of people who came and enjoyed the day”