Ireland’s Digital Champion, Lord David Puttnam
Ireland’s Digital Champion, Lord David Puttnam. Image: TechSpace

Maker Project will boost the STEM skills of thousands of Irish youths

7 Apr 2017

The National Youth Council, TechSpace and Science Foundation Ireland join forces to bring STEM skills to young people all over the country.

A new maker initiative will see thousands of school kids embrace robotics, electronics, arts and coding.

The Maker Project will fuse the support networks of the National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI), TechSpace and Science Foundation Ireland (SFI).

‘9 out of 10 agree that young people’s interest in STEM is essential for Ireland’s future prosperity’

The objective is to bring science, technology, engineering and mathematical (STEM) skills to young people all over Ireland.

The project is being led by Ireland’s Digital Champion, Lord David Puttnam.

Inspiring the youth sector of Ireland

Youth groups nationwide will be trained to work through technology-enhanced activities from electronics, robotics and coding to music, arts and crafts as part of this major new initiative.

‘We want to catalyse, inspire and guide the best in STEM education, outreach and public engagement’

The Maker Project is a partnership between the NYCI, which represents youth organisations working with more than 380,000 young people, and TechSpace, a leading creative technology network powered by the social enterprise Camara Ireland. The two-year project is funded by SFI.

“The youth sector is embarking on a groundbreaking journey to inspire young people and those working with them to embrace STEM, 21st-century skills and digital literacy in a creative way,” explained Mary Cunningham, director of the NYCI.

“This programme is significant – and it is just the first step. Ultimately, all young people in Ireland should have access to STEM and maker activities in an after-school setting, giving them skills and confidence that will be vital to their future lives.”

In 2017 and 2018, the project will see 320 youth workers from 70 organisations complete a training course on how to run maker activities with young people. They, in turn, will work with thousands of young people through workshops and projects, building their skills in various areas.

“9 out of 10 agree that young people’s interest in STEM is essential for Ireland’s future prosperity,” said Steven Daly, Camara Ireland manager, citing the Screenagers International Research project figures.

“But a significant number of those working with young people feel they lack the skills or confidence to work on areas of STEM, with 76pc citing a lack of training as an issue.

“Together with the fact that lower socioeconomic groups generally tend to be less engaged with STEM, the Maker Project will combat these issues by introducing youth workers to maker activities in a fun and engaging way through TechSpace, which is already being delivered in over 65 educational sites nationally, and is set to further expand its creative technology network.”

More than 200 young people will also have the opportunity to celebrate and showcase their maker and STEM skills at the Creative Tech Fest, TechSpace’s flagship event and Ireland’s largest celebration of youth-led creative technology activities.

“This project impacts a sector of the education system – the youth work sector – that is often underestimated for its reach and size,” explained Dr Ruth Freeman, director of strategy and communications at SFI.

“With nearly 400,000 young people, 40,000 volunteers and 1,400 professional youth workers engaged, the youth work sector can play a significant role in realising the mission of SFI’s Discover Programme.

“We want to catalyse, inspire and guide the best in STEM education, outreach and public engagement, which is why we are delighted to announce this capacity-building partnership with the NYCI and Camara Education Ireland,” Dr Freeman said.

John Kennedy
By John Kennedy

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years. His interests include all things technological, music, movies, reading, history, gaming and losing the occasional game of poker.

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