SFI allocates €4.4m to projects getting the word out about STEM

15 Feb 2018

Image: Syda Productions/Shutterstock

Science Foundation Ireland wants to spread the STEM message, starting with €4.4m for 41 different outreach projects.

Those in either the science industry or academia will be aware of the noticeable lack of diversity in many workforces, with women and those from minority backgrounds often highlighted as the missing pieces of a potentially brilliant jigsaw puzzle.

So, in order to raise awareness among those who might not be actively listening or aware of the ongoing work in Ireland in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM), Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) has announced a new €4.4m investment to get the word out.

This year’s fund will support 41 different initiatives – out of a total of 80 applications – of which 11 will receive financial backing for the next two years.

A number of projects specifically aimed at developing computing skills among young people are being funded, including CoderDojo, the highly successful volunteer coding organisation that now has Dojos in different parts of the world.

SFI has confirmed that a continuous professional development programme for teachers to facilitate the teaching of the new computer science syllabus at Leaving Certificate is being funded. This project is being managed and developed by SFI Research Centre Lero, which is responsible for leading software research.

Everything space-related has also been given a major focus this year, with funding for a number of initiatives for Space Week taking place between 4 and 10 October this year.

Leaving a lasting impact on the world

Other projects marked for funding include:

  • Teen Entrepreneur STEM Camp: An eight-week programme of STEM workshops for transition-year students, organised by Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council, featuring CAD design, electronics, coding, computer programming, 3D printing and guest lectures from successful entrepreneurs
  • Irish Girl Guides Innovatively Engaging with STEM: A project based in Dublin City University that focuses on the development of concepts relating to STEM, with girls aged seven to 10, in informal settings
  • Career Mathways: A novel approach to STEM education developed by the University of Limerick, dedicated to demonstrating the importance of maths and the vast career opportunities that can arise through studying it at third-level

Speaking about the programme, SFI’s director of innovation, communications and education, Dr Ruth Freeman, said: “Discoveries from this research will create solutions to our most pressing challenges and leave a lasting impact on the world.

“It is important that the public are informed about these discoveries, and can engage with the researchers who are creating new knowledge and technologies.”

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic