Nurturing future generations of scientists in Ireland can rely heavily on getting young people engaged with science, and inspiring them to pursue a future in STEM.
Funding for three science outreach programmes in Galway that aim to inspire over 385,000 young people interested in science, technology, engineering, and maths.
NUIG’s Cell EXPLORERS and CÚRAM ‘Science Waves’ projects, and the ReelLIFE SCIENCE video competition have been awarded more than €339,000 through Science Foundation Ireland’s Discover Programme.
Cell EXPLORERS is a science education and public engagement programme that has the dual benefit of broadening primary school students’ concept of what it means to be a scientist, while also helping graduate students and researchers improve their skill at communicating with the public.
Since its creation in 2012, the programme has reached more than 38,500 members of the public and involved more than 2,250 team members.
This project has been awarded €267,636 in funding, which will allow it to expand to 15 different universities and institutes of technology over the next two years, running school visits throughout the country.
CÚRAM’s ‘Science Waves’ project has been awarded €43,719 to create six radio shows that will be easily available to children on preventative behaviours that can limit the spread of infectious diseases.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for people to understand how science affects their lives, in order for them to trust it, the pandemic has also shown a stark divide between those who have access to online resources, and those who don’t.
For ‘Science Waves’ CÚRAM will work with children from underrepresented groups to create radio shows aimed at 10-12 year olds, which will be broadcast on NUIG’s student station Flirt FM, and will also be released through the CRAOL network of community radio stations.
ReelLIFE SCIENCE is a national short film competition, where primary and secondary school students create videos explaining a STEM topic of their choice simply and engagingly.
More than 16,000 young people from 500 schools and youth organisations all over the country have taken part in the competition to date.
ReelLIFE SCIENCE has been awarded €27,987 in funding, and the 2021 competition will have a particular focus on training and empowering youth workers and leaders in Galway, Mayo and Roscommon youth organisations.
Professor Jim Livesey of NUIG said that outreach and public engagement are integral to research at the university, helping to provide new insight to scientific and social questions.
“Open research is a proven path to inspire young minds to take on the challenges posed by the sciences and to creatively approach the evident social issues of the moment.
“These excellent and innovative programmes will create new energy, inspire young people to aspire to careers in the sciences, and broadcast the standards of excellence the community expects of us.”
The funding awards were announced by Minister Simon Harris, as part of a national investment of €5.2 million. The multi-million investment from the SFI Discover Programme is backing 49 projects around the country this year.
Minister Harris said “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.”
“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.”