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Science Foundation Ireland Investment of €4.4 Million in STEM Education and Public Engagement Projects Announced by Minister Halligan

Monday, 19 February, 2018 

A national investment of €4.4 million through Science Foundation Ireland’s Discover Programme was today recently by Minister for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development, John Halligan TD. The funding has been awarded to a range of projects dedicated to educating and engaging the public in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM).

The investment reflects SFI’s mission to foster the most engaged and scientifically informed public. Part of the remit of the Foundation, through its SFI Discover Programme, is to achieve this goal by inspiring and guiding the best in STEM education and public engagement.

Pictured (l-r) at the launch of SFI’s Discover Programme 2018 are: Dr Aoibhínn NÍ Shuilleabháin, Assistant Professor of Mathematics at UCD School of Mathematics and Statistics, Dr Ruth Freeman, Director of Innovation, Communications and Education at SFI,  Minister for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development, John Halligan TD, and Alex Boyd, Public Engagement and Outreach Project Manager, UCD. 

41 diverse initiatives will be supported by this year’s programme. This year’s call received over 80 applications from which successful awardees were carefully selected through international peer-review.

Speaking at the launch of the SFI Discover Awards, Minister Halligan said: “The 41 initiatives being funded through this year’s SFI Discover programme will stimulate important public conversations around scientific research and will highlight the individual, societal and economic value of encouraging more people in Ireland to explore science-related careers.”

A number of projects specifically aimed at developing computing skills among young people are being funded, including CoderDojo, which is a network of free coding clubs (Dojos) for young people aged between 7 and 17. Approx. 6,000 young people learn how to code and build websites in Irish Dojos. Space is another theme being supported this year and Space Week, which takes place from 4 – 10 October 2018, has been awarded funding. A continuous professional development (CPD) programme for teachers to facilitate the teaching of the new computer science syllabus at Leaving Certificate is also being funded.

Speaking about the Programme, Director of Innovation, Communications & Education for Science Foundation Ireland, Dr Ruth Freeman, said: “The SFI Discover Programme encourages people from all backgrounds to learn about STEM and become involved in the exciting scientific research taking place across Ireland and the world. Discoveries from this research will create solutions to our most pressing challenges, and leave a lasting impact on the world.”

UCD projects funded under the SFI Discover Programme 2017 include:

Science Apprentice Series 2018

Science Apprentice 2 is an informal STEM-learning initiative for children aged 7-12. The first series of books was released in November 2016. Series two proposes four themed science-discovery books distributed free with The Irish Independent in 280 SuperValu stores nationwide in November 2018. Science Apprentice 2 will explore national priority areas in STEM and will feature the work and careers of researchers working in academia and industry. For further information, contact Alex Boyd, UCD.

Maths Sparks: Problem Solving Workshops

Maths Sparks is a series of mathematics workshops for senior post-primary (Transition Year and 5th year) pupils from DEIS schools, which will be designed and presented by undergraduate STEM students. Each workshop will include new mathematical content for pupils, which align with the post-primary curriculum objectives of: encouraging pupils to communicate their mathematical thinking, improving their problem-solving skills, and expanding their understanding of mathematics. For further information, contact Dr Aoibhinn ní Shúilleabháin, UCD.

Suite Science 2018

Suite Science takes children at primary school level living in disadvantaged areas and transports them to UCD for a 90min session every week for six weeks to explore some science through inquiry based learning in a specifically designed outreach laboratory.