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€5 million invested to bring more Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) to people in Ireland

47 projects receive funding to improve public engagement with STEM and to support education initiatives for under-represented groups

Dublin, 4th December 2019 – Minister for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development, John Halligan TD, today announced a national investment of €5 million to fund projects dedicated to educating and engaging the public in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM), through the Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) Discover Programme.

The SFI Discover Programme provides funding for projects that inspire and guide the best in STEM education and public engagement in Ireland. It aims to increase the public’s engagement with STEM and to develop a more scientifically informed and involved society. A wide range of organisations such as Foróige, the National Concert Hall and the Riverbank Arts Centre in Newbridge, Co. Kildare will be supported to bring STEM to new audiences, including Gaeltacht communities. Many of the projects are specifically targeted towards disadvantaged or minority groups, that may not otherwise typically engage with STEM. All successful awardees are carefully selected, following robust international peer-review.

Minister Halligan welcomed the announcement, saying: “I am delighted to announce the funding of 47 STEM projects through Science Foundation Ireland’s Discover Programme. This important work will help to inform the public about the research we fund and develop in Ireland, bringing science and technology to harder to reach audiences. We want young and old to feel confident and empowered in educating themselves on STEM issues. By encouraging the public to participate in STEM, we can increase public trust in research, build understanding on why evidence matters and stimulate more conversations about issues of relevance and concern to our citizens, such as clean water, energy and health.  Ireland continues to benefit economically from the innovative research we develop and our global reputation for research excellence is growing. We must, therefore, ensure that all young people are given equal opportunities to access STEM careers, to help us to shape a better tomorrow for all.”

In the South-East region, a STEM Hub is being funded to grow and improve existing STEM resources to ensure more sustained engagement, while the Cork Electronics Industry Association’s ‘Education to Industry’ programme will deliver Maths tutorials to 5th and 6th year students, as well as a Transition Year work experience programme and an electronics training programme for 2nd level teachers. The Dublin City University (DCU) Maths4All programme will also work to deliver professional development for teachers in the area of early mathematics education (3 to 8 year olds).

Speaking of the Awards, Dr Ruth Freeman, Director of SFI’s Science for Society Programme said: “Through the SFI Discover Programme, this important investment ensures we will reach an even wider diversity of audiences, including the Traveller community, children and parents accommodated in Direct Provision Centres, and students on the autistic spectrum. Citizen ‘Think Ins’ will also take place across the country to engage adult learners from disadvantaged backgrounds. This work is vital in addressing disinformation, such as common myths about vaccines, which are leading to an increase in outbreaks of preventable diseases such as measles. STEM literacy is an important element in promoting evidence-based information from which all citizens will benefit.”

The ‘STEM as Gaeilge agus Cant’ project, led by Camara Education, is also benefiting from significant additional partner funding of €1 million from the Department of Culture Heritage and Gaeltacht. A number of the projects receiving investment will specifically work towards engaging girls and women in STEM, including ‘Yes! Youth Engineering Solutions Project; the ‘SOPHia: Science Outreach’ project to promote Physics to Female Students; and ‘Weave: Interwoven culturally responsive computational thinking’ which sees DCU and Carlow IT partnering with PDST (Professional Development Service for Teachers) to develop a cross curricular computational thinking framework for girls.

In recognition of the influence and impact that teachers and role models can have on young people’s learning, and career paths, the Science Capital Programme will deliver best practice training for youth and development workers undertaking STEM activities in after-schools clubs in the Midlands region, while the STEM Teacher Internship (STInt) programme will develop STEM teaching and learning practice, and provide role models to inspire future generations of students to consider STEM careers, fostering sustainable school-industry collaborations. Teachers will undertake paid summer internships in STEM companies, so they can bring first-hand experience of the roles and careers of STEM professionals back into their classrooms.

Science Foundation Ireland has invested in 440 public engagement projects through the Discover Programme since 2013. This year’s funded initiatives are estimated to reach over five hundred and eighty thousand people.

ENDS

Notes to Editor

Some national and regional project highlights and their lead organisation are listed below:

For further media information contact 

  • Science Foundation Ireland: Donna McCabe – 087 675 6845 / mccabe@sfi.ie

National

  • STEM Teacher Internship (STInt) Programme
  • Engineers Ireland STEPS Programme (Engineers Ireland)
  • LET’S FIND OUT children’s science entertainment TV & Digital series (RTEjr)
  • SciFest School STEM Fair and school competition programme
  • Pint of Science Ireland 2020 Festival
  • I'm a Scientist and I'm an Engineer Ireland
  • Weave - interwoven culturally responsive computational thinking (Dublin City University, IT Carlow)
  • Irish Sign Language STEM Glossary Project (Dublin City University)
  • STEM as Gaeilge agus Cant (Camara Education)
  • Scientist-in-Training: spreading science through smartphones (Trinity College Dublin)
  • Bright Club – STEM + Comedy (NUI Galway) http://brightclub.ie/
  • ReelLIFE SCIENCE Video Competition - https://reellifescience.com/
  • Cell EXPLORERS (NUI Galway)
  • FameLab Ireland 2019 - https://www.britishcouncil.ie/famelab
  • ‘OurKidsCode’ family computing workshops
  • VEX Robotics (Cork Institute of Technology)
  • EIRSAT-1 Hub - Space for Engagement (University College Dublin)
  • ‘Peigi's Adventures in Science’ Junior Infants book (University College Dublin)
  • The Lonsdale Project theatre show (Riverbank Arts Centre CLG)
  • Career Mathways (University of Limerick)

Midlands/Kildare

  • Quiet Science - Co-Creating ASD Appropriate STEM Outreach (Atlantic Corridor)
  • Investing in The Future - Science Capital Training (Atlantic Corridor)
  • Space, Surveyors and Students: STEM and Sustainable Development Goals (Maynooth University)

South and South-East

  • South-East STEM Hub and Cluster (Waterford Institute of Technology)
  • YES! Youth Engineering Solutions (Foróige)
  • Rebel Yeast - immersive citizen science project (University College Cork)
  • ‘Invisible Light’ exploring the Electromagnetic Spectrum (Crawford Art Gallery)
  • Engaging Space (Blackrock Castle Observatory)
  • Education to Industry - The Cork Electronics Industry Association (CEIA)
  • Sensational STEM - Sensory Friendly STEM for ASD Students (Tyndall National Institute)

West and South-West

  • Engineering NorthWest (Institute of Technology Sligo)
  • SOPHia: Science Outreach to Promote Physics to Female Students (University of Limerick, Institute of Technology Carlow)
  • Activating the Energy Citizen on the Dingle Peninsula (Dingle 2030)
  • Curious Young Minds – CÚRAM SFI Research Centre (NUI Galway)
  • The Science Behind the Circus (Galway Community Circus)
  • Starship Earth high-altitude balloons mission project (NUI Galway)

Dublin

  • Patrick’s Festival - Science Foundation Ireland Science Zone at the Festival Village
  • Festival of Curiosity 2020 & 2021 - Inspiring Collaboration/Connecting Dublin
  • Voices for Vaccines (Dublin City University)
  • Maths4all (Dublin City University)
  • Citizens' Think-Ins: Engaging Adults in STEM Dialogue and Discussion (Trinity College Dublin)
  • Generations of Learning, STEAM Ahead (South Dublin Libraries, SD County Council)
  • Advanced Manufacturing: 3D Printing and Teacher Training (University College Dublin)
  • Music and Science: Quavers to Quadratics (National Concert Hall)

About Science Foundation Ireland

Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) is the national foundation for investment in research in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) to assist the development and competitiveness of industry, enterprise and employment in Ireland. It also promotes and supports STEM education and engagement to improve awareness and understanding of the value of STEM to society and to support the STEM careers pipeline. See www.sfi.ie for more information.

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