The free exhibition, which will showcase science as art and art as science, is the brainchild of the WIT’s Digital Media Group, Applied Robotics Group, Educational Services and Calmast the STEM Outreach Group. Limerick native Brendan Kennedy, a graduate in Marine Biology, is Calmast’s programme co-ordinator. He says the STEAM Dream will be a spectacle for all the family.
“What we are trying to do is to bring maths and technology to people who are not used to it, to widen the impact of science on their everyday life. And art is a great way to do this. So where STEM would originally have involved science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, we’ve incorporated art to create STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics).
“We’re exploring the relationship between art and science using cutting edge technology that people will recognise. So when people enter the room they’ll see a projector but it will be used in a brand new way, that they’ve never seen before, projecting images of all shapes and sizes and communicating a message.”
Calmast was established in 2003 at WIT by chemist Sheila Donegan and engineer Eoin Gill to enable them to develop the work they had been doing since the mid 1990s in promoting science and engineering. In that time they have reached a multitude of people with science supplements and publications, events and activities.
“Sheila and Eoin had noticed that the pick-up of science subjects was quite low amongst Leaving Cert students so they decided to do something to try to turn this around. That was ten years ago and, since then, Calmast has worked with hundreds of thousands of young people, engaging them with science and maths. Over 200,000 young people took part in events during last year’s Maths Week alone. We’d be the national coordinator of Maths Week and then the regional force behind Science Week and Engineering Week. The work is always a challenge but it’s also fun and exciting as well.
“We also work with Waterford City and County Council, industry groups and schools to develop the south east with Waterford as its Gateway City as a Science Region.
“The work of the team has been well recognised. Calmast directors are the only Irish recipients of the Descartes Award for Science Communication and were awarded the Engineers Ireland inaugural Award for Science, Engineering and Technology Awareness in 2007.”
Brendan says the Garter Lane exhibition will be fun for all ages and – Back to the Future fans, take note – it even offers a glimpse of what Waterford will look like 100 (and even 1100) years from now.
“This exhibition explores ideas surrounding communication and connectivity through an interactive, all-encompassing audio-visual experience. The world is more connected than ever before- this exhibition looks at how we connect to each other through a series of re-imaginings of everyday objects using projection mapping- televisions, stairways and even the city environment will all experience a new twist, uncovering how they are a small part of helping us become a greater part of a global community. STEAM Dream will allow members of the public to imagine what the Waterford of 100 years from now might look like. The exhibition will reach even further into the future, taking a glimpse at Waterford another 1100 years from now.
“The STEAM Dream team has an international dimension, further encapsulating the theme of connectivity and communication, in that Álvaro Sánchez, from Spain and Calvin Coelho from Brazil work within the Applied Robotics Group at Waterford Institute of Technology. They chose to work within this group due to its status as one of the most innovative and exciting robotics groups in the country. Their unique perspective, combined with that of the Waterford natives working on the project, has lent the exhibition a new dimension allowing the artistic team to deliver a novel take on the city and our connected future.
“The images used will be bright and colourful and really engage with the audience, whatever the age. We’re delighted to be involved with sprOg but this exhibition is really for all ages – a five year old will enjoy it and so will a 75-year-old, although the 75-year-old will probably get something deeper out of it.”
“Aside from the Garter Lane exhibition, we’ll also be bringing Calmast to Spraoi this year as well, with scientists on the streets demonstrating a range of science skills, like how to make carbon dioxide, exploding balloons… basically making science fun and accessible to all.”
* The STEAM Dream Team is Colm Dunphy (Digital Media Group), Jason Berry, PJ Walsh, Paddy Murray, Álvaro Sánchez, Calvin Coelho (Applied Robotics Group), Eoghan Kinnane (Educational Services), Sheila Donegan, Brendan Kennedy, Eoin Gill (Calmast). STEAM Dream premieres at Garter Lane at 3pm on Monday, 28th July.