A Blended Learning Approach to STEM Education at DCU

2nd June 2020

Posted In: The Topic

The STEM Teacher Internship Programme, established in 2016 by DCU provides participating teacher education students with the opportunity of a paid-internship experience in STEM focused roles and careers in global corporate firms. It is led by Associate Professor Eilish McLoughlin, Director CASTel/School of Physical Sciences and Professor Deirdre Butler, School of STEM Education, Innovation and Global Studies.

Last week, DCU launched their 2020 STInt (STEM Teacher Internship) programme with twelve paid-internships for pre-service STEM teachers proceeding on a remote working basis in six participating companies Accenture, Alexion, Ericsson, Intel, Microsoft and Xilinx.

Mr Paul McCabe, Executive Director of Operations at Alexion Pharma, said: “The BioPharmaChem sector in Ireland directly employs more than 30,000 and will require more talented employees in the years ahead, with the right level of qualification, aptitude and experience. So, it is critical that industry works closely with academia to ensure we encourage, develop and support students to engage in STEM studies and careers. As such, through the STEM Teacher Internship, teachers get exposure to what a STEM career looks like and what critical skills are needed to undertake these roles.”

Participants will work as part of remote teams developing key skills in technology, communications and collaboration, which will support them in their future teaching careers to deliver a blended learning approach to STEM education.  This year the initiative has also received strategic partnership funding from Science Foundation Ireland’s Discover programme (2020-2021) to expand and enable pre-service STEM teachers from other universities to engage in internships in a wide range of industries across Ireland. Nine new host organisations and seven pre-service second level STEM teachers from NUI Maynooth will participate, in addition to DCU student teachers.

Margie McCarthy, Head of Education and Public Engagement, Science Foundation Ireland said: “Science Foundation Ireland is delighted to support the STEM Teacher Internship Programme, which despite the ongoing pandemic, is announcing twelve virtual internships in 2020. This programme is an excellent example of industry and education working together to support future teachers to experience how STEM is applied in the workplace. It helps demystify the work of scientists, engineers and technologists so that teachers can experience the impact for themselves and transfer this knowledge to their students.”

This is the fifth year of the internship programme which was developed by DCU in partnership with Accenture and the 30% Club.

Gillian Harford, Country Executive 30% Club Ireland said: “The role of teachers in encouraging next generations to understand and appreciate the value of STEM is critical to building our pipeline of future talent.  At the 30% Club we are very proud to support this great example of business and education working in partnership for change.”

The programme has been supported by Connecting Women in Technology (CWIT) and BioPharmaChem Ireland to now include twenty six participating companies.

Dr Anne Looney (pictured), Dean of DCU Institute of Education said: “The skills that our future teachers will acquire during their internships are more important than ever. The last few months have seen dramatic changes in schools and schooling; the STint programme takes on a new importance as part of DCU’s work of preparing the teachers of the future.

Collaborating online, working in virtual teams, and the ability to design and deliver technological solutions – these are likely to be part of classroom routines for the foreseeable future.”