Minister reveals €3.75m science education package

11 Jan 2012

Prof Brian MacCraith, DCU's president (left), and Ruairí Quinn, TD, Ireland's Minister for Education and Skills

Ireland’s Minister for Education and Skills Ruairí Quinn, TD, has launched a €3.75m EU-funded initiative the Government hopes will ‘revolutionise’ the way science is taught in the classroom. The move comes as The BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition kicks off today at the RDS in Dublin.

The science initiative was announced at Dublin City University (DCU) yesterday.

Termed SAILS (Strategies for Assessment of Inquiry Learning in Science), the project is part of the European Framework Programme (FP7), and will be led by a team from DCU.

The long-term aim of the project is to generate a greater interest in science subjects at school, improve the take-up of science at third level and also increase the number of skilled graduates for employment in science and technology.

Speaking yesterday, Quinn said DCU will co-ordinate a consortium of t3 partner organisations and universities from 12 European countries encompassing Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Sweden, Turkey and the UK.

The SAILS project will provide teacher-training workshops across the 12 participating countries. As well as this, teachers will be able to share their insights on teaching, learning and assessment online.

Industry partner Intel will also develop online tools and supports for teachers and students.

Speaking yesterday, DCU president Prof Brian MacCraith touched on how the STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and maths) will be critical for shaping both Europe’s and Ireland’s knowledge economy.

He said SAILS will support a curriculum that encourages problem solving and exploratory learning.  

Quinn spoke about the advances Ireland has made in terms of its research capabilities and he said it was great to see Irish researchers now leading an international consortium of this size.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic