€5.2m to support STEM education and engagement projects

22 Mar 2021

Image: © Daisy Daisy/Stock.adobe.com

The latest projects to receive funding through the SFI Discover programme involve Lego leagues, beekeepers, sign language and more.

A national investment of €5.2m will support 49 public engagement and education initiatives in Ireland in a bid to improve public understanding of and engagement with STEM.

This investment through the Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) Discover programme was announced today (22 March) by Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris, TD.

This year’s projects cover diverse areas of STEM, from biodiversity, climate action and coding to digital wellbeing, pandemics and the link between music, maths and physics. They are catered towards different audiences across all ages.

“As we continue to live through the Covid-19 pandemic, we are more conscious than ever of the importance of supporting the public to have access to and to understand the issues that impact our collective future, and the role science and technology can play in providing solutions,” Harris said.

“These projects will play a role in starting conversations about the role of STEM in society and inspiring our young people to explore careers in these areas. I wish all the recipients every success in the roll-out of their projects.”

Funded projects include:

  • Irish Sign Language STEM Glossary Project: A lexicon of Irish Sign Language for STEM terms
  • Eco Showboat Expedition 2021: A floating environmental science laboratory and art studio, bringing communities, scientists and artists together to observe, draw, photograph and film freshwater biodiversity
  • First Lego League: A programme to inspire children and young people to understand and shape the world in a more sustainable, equitable and inclusive way
  • Dingle Peninsula 2030: A model for community-based climate action led by MaREI, the SFI research centre for energy, climate and marine
  • Educational platform for Irish beekeepers: A project to engage beekeepers with STEM through a series of workshops to explore other skills and tech that can be used with beekeeping

Dr Ruth Freeman, director of science for society at SFI, said the Discover programme aims to support projects at local, regional and national levels to stimulate engagement and understanding with STEM.

“Recently, we published the SFI Science in Ireland Barometer 2020. This research enables us to have a better understanding of the public’s attitude to science and provides evidence to inform and shape how our education and public engagement initiatives meet the needs of the people of Ireland,” she added.

“These projects will play a key role in supporting the public to better understand the evidence behind challenges we have collectively faced and the choices we need to make in the future. We are looking forward to working with these exciting and creative education and engagement programmes, making the excitement and importance of STEM more accessible to a wide diversity of people.”

See the full list of funded projects through the SFI Discover programme here.

Lisa Ardill was careers editor at Silicon Republic until June 2021