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Minister Halligan and Science Foundation Ireland launch five new Discover Centres

Primary school students to benefit from STEM activities beyond the classroom as part of the Discover Primary Science and Maths programme

Minister of State for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development, John Halligan TD, today announced five new Discover Centres under the Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) Discover Primary Science and Maths (DPSM) programme. The five new centres will bring the total number in Ireland to fifty-nine.

The network of Discover Centres support schools to engage in science education outside of the classroom by offering workshops and activities accredited by the SFI DPSM programme. The programme aims to introduce primary school students to science in a practical, hands-on, enjoyable and interactive way. Discover Centres are hosted by various amenities across Ireland and include Dublin Zoo, Waterford Nature Park, Dingle Ocean World and Ailwee Caves to name a few.

The official launch took place at Cool Planet Experience in Powerscourt, one of the new centres which will expand the current network. The five new centres are:
• Arigna Mining Experience (Co. Roscommon) which will explore ways in which people use the earth’s resources and the themes of energy past, present and future.
• Bricks 4 Kidz Creativity Centre (Dublin City and Wexford Town) which will provide LEGO Technic workshops focused on imaginative and multi-sensory fun.
• Laois Outdoor Education (Co. Laois) which will provide a guided tour of Emo Court and nature and science walks.
• Cool Planet Experience (Powerscourt Centre, Co. Wicklow) where students will learn the science behind climate change, how it affects us and what we can do to help.
• The National Reptile Zoo (Co. Kilkenny) where students will learn about reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates with a vast array of species.

Speaking at the launch, Minister of State for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development, John Halligan T.D., said: “Science Foundation Ireland's Discover Centres will play an important role in fostering innovation and motivating our young people to explore careers in science, technology, engineering and maths. These Discover Centres are of critical importance as we need to inspire the next generation of inventors, problem solvers and creative thinkers. Encouraging school children to interact with and explore STEM in new ways will help us achieve this, and I wish each new centre the best of luck.”

Margie McCarthy, Interim Director of Innovation and Education at Science Foundation Ireland, said: “The Discover Centres Network was established in 2005 and over the past thirteen years has expanded significantly. Science Foundation Ireland is committed to extending the Discover Primary Science and Maths programme beyond the classroom, which supports the National STEM Education Policy Statement. This network offers an ideal opportunity for teachers to bring STEM to life for students, in an informal setting. Engaging students in STEM outside the classroom in a practical and interactive way is central to Science Foundations Ireland's Education and Public Engagement programme outlined in the SFI Strategic Plan - Agenda 2020.”

To promote the network of Discover Centres and to highlight the opportunities for schools to participate in STEM education, Science Foundation Ireland have launched the new Discover Centres brochure which is available online here: http://www.sfi.ie/engagement/discover-primary-science-and-maths/discover-centres/. The brochure provides an overview of all fifty-nine centres, the DPSM programme and awards.


ENDS

For further media information contact:
Claire Rowley / Louise Walsh
Drury Porter Novelli
Claire.rowley@drurypn.ie / Louise.walsh@drurypn.ie
087 269 5014 / 087 775 7725

Lisa Ardill
Science Foundation Ireland
Lisa.ardill@sfi.ie
01 607 3289
Lisa.ardill@sfi.ie

About Science Foundation Ireland
Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) is the national foundation for investment in scientific and engineering research. Science Foundation Ireland funds oriented basic and applied research in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) which promotes and assists the development and competitiveness of industry, enterprise and employment in Ireland. The Foundation also promotes and supports the study of and engagement with STEM and promotes an awareness and understanding of the value of STEM to society and, in particular, to the growth of the economy.  See http://www.sfi.ie/
Science Foundation Ireland has launched the #BelieveInScience campaign to promote the potential that science and discovery offer Ireland, today and in tomorrow’s world. The #BelieveInScience campaign will see Science Foundation Ireland work in partnership with the Irish research community to share a mutual passion for science with the public; to promote an understanding of the ability of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) to create positive change in the world and to drive a sustainable economy in Ireland.

About Discover Centres Network
The Discover Centres Network (DCN) was established as part of the Discover Primary Science and Maths programme in 2005. Over the past 10 years, the network has grown to 50 Discover Centres. The DCN offers primary STEM workshops accredited by DPSM. The network was established to:
• Extend the DPSM programme beyond the classroom.
• Provide opportunities for schools to gain credit towards achieving an Award of Science Excellence by engaging in a DPSM workshop.
• Increase capacity for science education aimed at primary schools by supporting the DCN in extending their programmes to target that audience.
• Facilitate primary school children in meeting STEM professionals from a wide range of disciplines at work.
See http://www.sfi.ie/engagement/discover-primary-science-and-maths/discover-centres/

About SFI Discover Primary Science and Maths programme
The Discover Primary Science and Maths Programme (DPSM) is part of Science Foundation Ireland’s Education and Public Engagement Programme, which aims to increase interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) among students, teachers and members of the public.
DPSM originated in 2003 with the goal of introducing primary school students to science in a practical, hands-on, enjoyable and interactive way. Since 2010 the programme has been run in conjunction with the European Space Education Resource Office (ESERO) Ireland which uses space to inspire and engage young people in science and technology in the world around them. Year after year teachers tell the DPSM team at Science Foundation Ireland that the DPSM award is a great way of involving everyone in science in the school.

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