Two UL initiatives aimed at encouraging and supporting women in STEM education were today awarded Science Foundation Ireland funding. Minister for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development, John Halligan TD, announced a national investment of €3.6 million through Science Foundation Ireland’s Discover Programme, to fund projects dedicated to educating and engaging the public in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).
Science Foundation Ireland, through its SFI Discover Programme, aims to develop a highly-engaged and scientifically-informed public. Through the SFI Discover Awards, it provides funding for projects that inspire and guide the best in STEM education and public engagement.
41 diverse initiatives will be supported by this year’s programme, with successful awardees being carefully selected through international peer-review. A further 11 projects that were awarded in 2017, will also have their funding continued for a second year.
Speaking at the SFI Discover Awards event, Minister Halligan said: “Science Foundation Ireland’s work in promoting science, technology, engineering and maths to the public stimulates very important public conversations around scientific research and encourages young people to consider pursuing a carer path in these areas. To address the many global challenges we face across society and the economy, we must ensure that future generations of problem solvers have the opportunity to be inspired. Ireland continues to act as a hub for excellent research and the initiatives being funded through this year’s SFI Discover programme will help to generate enthusiasm for STEM and highlight the individual, societal and economic value of encouraging more people in Ireland to get involved.”
A number of the projects receiving funding are specifically targeted towards engaging girls and women in STEM:
- SOPHia: Science Outreach to Promote Physics to Female Students (UL) - a project that aims to encourage female students to take up physics as a Leaving Certificate Subject.
- STEMChAT – Women as catalysts for change in STEM education (UL) – looks at the recruitment of female undergraduate STEM Champions and industry mentors who will facilitate informal workshops with school students and parents, predominantly in disadvantaged areas.
- Strength in Science (NUIG) – The development of cross-curricular resources for science and PE teachers that are linked with the Biology, Physics and PE curricula that will increase girls’ interest in both learning science and participating in exercise
- Engaging Girls in CS - Code Plus (TCD) – Female-only coding workshops facilitating a cohort of female speakers working in computing, to deliver career talks in girls’ schools. Tech companies will host visits for teenage females.
- Girls in DEIS Schools: Changing Attitudes /Impacting Futures in STEM (UCD) - Students will engage with STEM by exploring the lives and impact of several female STEM pioneers, both historical and contemporary.
- Let's talk about STEM: supports for girls' early science engagement (DCU) - Parents and educators will participate in workshops to consider evidence on the role of language in differentially motivating girls’ and boys’ interest in and persistence with scientific learning
Speaking about the Programme, Interim Director of Science for Society at Science Foundation Ireland, Margie McCarthy, said: “The SFI Discover Programme encourages people from all walks of life to become informed about, and engaged with, STEM. Through SFI Discover we harness the creativity of diverse engagement initiatives to motivate more people to explore STEM in meaningful ways, and we aspire to create a brighter future for Ireland together. The projects being announced today are very exciting and I look forward to working with them to inspire our future scientists, engineers and innovators.”
Science Foundation Ireland has invested in over 240 public engagement projects through the Discover Programme since 2013. This year’s funded initiatives are estimated to reach over two million people.