€2.8m investment in 42 initiatives aimed at engaging Irish public in STEM through Science Foundation Ireland’s Discover funding awards unveiled by minister
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Minister for Research, Innovation and Skills Damien English has announced details of a €2.8 million national investment in 42 initiatives aimed at engaging the Irish public in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) through Science Foundation Ireland’s Discover funding awards.

This investment further supports our national aim to have the most scientifically engaged public; breaking down barriers and creating more accessible paths to skill acquisition and ultimately fulfilling careers in science, technology, engineering and maths. Geographically dispersed, it is estimated that these STEM projects will touch 3.6 million people in Ireland by the end of 2017.

Science Foundation Ireland’s Discover funding was awarded competitively following rigorous international review where the STEM education and public engagement projects were required to address how they planned to enable greater STEM understanding and debate or support STEM education formally or informally.

In particular, projects were sought that targeted counties which currently have low levels of STEM public engagement activity (Leitrim, Carlow, Monaghan, Roscommon, Cavan, Louth, Clare and Kerry). This will address objectives in the recently published science and innovation strategy, Innovation 2020, but more specifically will provide greater opportunities for the Irish public to increase their knowledge of STEM, moving the dial from 49 per cent to 60 per cent of people who feel informed about STEM.

Niamh Lyons and Minister Damien English

The 42 STEM public engagement, promotion and education projects funded were across key activity areas:

Maths:  projects that support the enjoyment of maths and enable skills development.  These projects include a national problem solving competition; a programme bringing undergraduate maths students together with post primary students to understand maths; a mobile interactive exhibition exploring statistics through games; a project supporting numeracy skills to make maths more accessible.

Technology: projects that support engaging people with technology and developing digital skills.  These projects include a national competition to develop apps using Central Statistics Office information; a movement supporting girl’s hacking events; a robotics programme; and a programme supporting the community to develop digital skills through the 1916 celebrations.

Broadcast/Film/Print: projects that will connect to a larger audience through print or broadcast media.  Aimed at targeting those not traditionally interested in science, the Science Foundation Ireland Discover Programme Call makes significant investment in broadcast media for the second year. In addition to our partnership with RTE, this year the programme expands to include a six part travel series with TV3 exploring scientific accomplishments; a six part series with Setanta sports looking at the science behind sport; the support of two science documentaries as part of Galway becoming UNESCO City of Film; and a book series for young people to be distributed with a national newspaper.

General public events: projects that engage the public and young people through events.  These projects include an art exhibition and workshops; a ‘maker fair’ where people can explore making technology and art; the science zone at the St Patrick’s Festival Big Day Out; a project engaging people with renewable energy and how it works; a comedy improv club; a project that engages people in everyday physics through busking at outdoor events; a project engaging local libraries with STEM through interactive art installations; and the Festival of Curiosity, a summer festival celebrating the natural curiosity that is a part of STEM.

STEM informal education for schools: projects that support young people to engage with the subjects and themes of STEM outside of the formal curriculum. These projects include a centre offering students an opportunity to explore topics such as climate change and energy; a project bringing physics, maths and music together; a primary science fair in Limerick; two projects using technology to bring the research science lab to life in the classroom; a project bringing STEM debate to classrooms and families; a project delivering a range of STEM education experiences using space as a theme; a project exploring the importance of diet and gut health using technology; and a project bringing STEM to disadvantaged young people.

STEM Careers Awareness: projects that support young people and their families to explore and understand STEM careers. These include projects that support STEM professionals to engage the public with their career story; and a project that supports connecting young girls to STEM role models.

Regional/National programmes: projects that have national or regional participant reach and activities that address the broader purpose of STEM career awareness, supporting informal education and general public events such as national weeks celebrating STEM. These include national programmes such as the Engineers Ireland STEPS programme and Maths Week; programmes delivering STEM activity to the Cork and Waterford regions; SciFest; and a project supporting third level colleges nationwide to engage communities in their work.

These projects complement current Science Foundation Ireland projects such as Science Week, Smart Futures and work carried out by the 12 Science Foundation Ireland research centres nationwide to engage and inspire the public in STEM.

http://www.engineersjournal.ie/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/aaacash2-1024x717.jpghttp://www.engineersjournal.ie/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/aaacash2-300x300.jpgDavid O'RiordanNewsinvestment,SFI,STEM
Minister for Research, Innovation and Skills Damien English has announced details of a €2.8 million national investment in 42 initiatives aimed at engaging the Irish public in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) through Science Foundation Ireland’s Discover funding awards. This investment further supports our national aim to have the most scientifically...