At UCD Conway Institute, we believe that by sharing the exciting possibilities that research can bring to our daily lives, we can inspire the next generation to consider careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). We offer our researchers training and opportunities to engage with pupils. Some research groups have developed specific opportunities for pupils to experience life at the bench or developed bespoke continuing professional development training programmes for teachers in partnership with the Department of Education & Skills (Professional Development Service for Teachers, Junior Cycle for Teachers), the Irish Science Teachers Association and the Association for Teacher Education Centres in Ireland.
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The Amgen Biotech Experience Ireland programme empowers secondary school science teachers to implement real-world biotechnology labs in their classrooms, helping their students better understand science and how it influences their daily lives. The initiative provides teacher professional development, teaching materials and research-grade equipment to classrooms, to immerse students in the concepts and techniques scientists use to discover and develop medicines.
Led by Systems Biology Ireland in UCD since 2014, the programme has already benefited over 150 teachers and 7,800 students. In 2018, Minister for Education & Skills, Richard Bruton T.D., announced that over 13,500 secondary school students are to benefit from a biotechnology hands-on lab experience over the next three years, after the Amgen Foundation announced an expansion of its Amgen Biotech Experience (ABE) progamme in partnership with UCD and DCU. By 2020, ABE will have reached over 21,000 students in Ireland, bringing the Amgen Foundation’s investment in the Ireland to approximately €470,000.
Launched in August 2018, the UCD Diabetes Complications Research Centre (UCD DCRC) Summer School gave an opportunity to ten pupils from Tallaght Community School to visit DCRC researchers based in UCD Conway Institute for four days to expereince life at the bench working in diabetes research. Pupils were mentored by PhD students and learnt about diabetes and obesity research from senior academics as well as hearing about campus life and how to apply to study in UCD.