Five Million Reasons to Engage in STEM

28th February 2024

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Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris TD, and Minister for Education, Norma Foley TD, have today announced a €5million investment in 38 projects which encourage understanding of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

The funding will create greater public awareness of the impact of STEM on society and everyday life, generate opportunities for dialogue and encourage diversity in STEM-related disciplines.

In announcing the funding, Minister Harris TD said: “These initiatives, involving the general public and our communities across primary, secondary and third-level education, are essential to fostering curiosity about science, technology, engineering and maths.

“This investment will help to broaden participation in STEM – both geographically and amongst less represented voices – and inspire all generations to deepen their understanding of what learnings, studies and careers in these fields entails.

In turn, the next generation, in particular, will be better engaged and empowered to share their ideas and solutions to societal challenges.”

In relation to the projects co-funded by the Department of Education, Minister Foley said: “The Department of Education is delighted to collaborate once again with the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science through the SFI Discover Programme. STEM subjects encourage learners’ innate curiosity about how the world works, and I’m confident that support of these 38 initiatives will inspire the students involved to continue their studies in this area. I wish all of the project teams every success in their work over the coming months.”

Among the 38 projects supported through the SFI Discover Programme is the initiative called ‘Cut from the Same Cloth: Engaging Minority Communities in STEM’.  This project engages women and girls from minority communities in workshops centred around textiles and experiences of health research. Another project ‘Busting Gender Bias in Computer Science and Cyber Security’, blends STEM with the arts and humanities. It utilises immersive technology alongside P4C (Philosophy for Children) and storytelling methods to bridge the gender gap in computer science and cyber security. Putting a focus on engineering, the JEDI project (Junior Engineer Development Initiative) provides training for 6th class learners, developing their knowledge of engineering skills and careers and debunking engineer stereotypes.

Welcoming the announcement, Dr Ruth Freeman, Director, Science for Society, Science Foundation Ireland, said: “SFI is very proud of the Discover Programme and we are delighted to support these 38 projects to expand the reach of STEM and broaden participation and engagement. This programme is a key part of our education and public engagement strategy. Increasing engagement among less-represented voices in STEM is vital to providing the diverse talent needed to take on societal challenges and to shape our future in Ireland.

SFI are passionate about removing barriers to participation in STEM and providing learners with opportunities to engage.

I look forward to seeing the achievements of these projects over the coming months.”

Pictured at Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) Discover Programme announcement were (left-right): Lorna Donlon, artist, Dr Ruth Freeman, Director Science for Society, SFI, Dr Sara Dakir, UCD; with Elaine Quinn, UCD Conway Institute. The group was representing the ‘Cut from the Same Cloth: Engaging Minority Communities in STEM’ project, which engages women and girls from minority communities in workshops centred around textiles and experiences of health research. (Image – Jason Clarke).