Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris TD and Minister for Education Norma Foley TD have today announced an investment of more than €6 million in 40 projects to empower diversity and inclusion in STEM. 

SFI Discover Programme awardees will be encouraged to use the funding to build connections with less-represented voices, or with those who would not typically engage with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). 

In addition, the awardees target a range of geographic locations and incorporate themes such as climate change and biodiversity. 

Speaking today, Minister Harris said:

The SFI Discover Programme aims to stimulate an open and inclusive conversation on STEM, empowering participation and growing talent, with the aim of ensuring everyone can bring forward ideas and solutions for our society.

The significant funding announced today will encourage the 40 awardees to bring the incredible world of STEM to those who may not otherwise have considered the endless opportunities available that are out there.

I look forward to seeing the results and achievements of these projects, and I have no doubt they will help inspire many people to pursue careers and studies in STEM.” 

The SFI Discover Programme targets projects that empower and inspire deep public engagement with STEM, creating new initiatives with people and not for them.  

Minister Foley said:

The Department of Education is pleased to collaborate with the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science once again this year by supporting projects that will receive funding through the SFI Discover Programme intended to enhance, nurture and support STEM education.

STEM subjects ignite curiosity and it is wonderful to see so many of our young learners and students engaging with STEM and I hope that this will instil an interest in further study in this area. I wish all the participants every success in their work as they commence their projects.”

Awardees of funding include:  

  • Full STEAM Ahead! will address a gap that exists nationally in science/STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) education for young people who attend Youthreach. Youthreach is a nationwide programme that provides early school leavers with opportunities to progress their education in supportive, alternative settings.
  • The STEM Teacher Internship (STInt) Programme is a partnership between Irish education and industry.  The objectives of STInt are to influence STEM teaching and learning in Irish schools; provide role models to inspire future generations of students (particularly girls and those who may be socially, economically or educationally disadvantaged) to enhance their knowledge of STEM careers; and to foster sustainable school-industry collaborations.
  • Generation Glas is an initiative that draws talented young people from diverse backgrounds across Ireland and supports them in becoming ambassadors for sustainability. It gives them access to researchers, policymakers and other experts, educates them in the scientific and political contexts and trains them to become confident, creative communicators who can engage and represent their communities.
  • OurKidsCode programme designs, develops and delivers family creative-coding workshops throughout communities in rural Ireland. Parental involvement in education is strongly associated with better learning outcomes and this initiative creates opportunities for families to discover technology together.
  • Irish Sign Language STEM Glossary Project: There are approximately 5,000 people in Ireland who use Irish Sign Language (ISL) as their first language. This project aims to promote and support STEM education for Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DHH) people, empowering them to be fully engaged and scientifically informed.

Prof Philip Nolan, Director General, Science Foundation Ireland, said:

The SFI Discover Programme is a key part of our education and public engagement strategy.  

The Programme encourages collaboration to support public engagement with STEM, with a specific emphasis on broadening participation geographically and amongst less represented voices in STEM.  

It is essential that we support and encourage diversity and equality at all levels, providing the talent in our society an opportunity to fully participate in shaping our collective future. SFI is keen to push the boundaries of participation and engagement with STEM research. I look forward to seeing what these projects achieve over the coming months.” 

Welcoming the news, Minister Rabbitte said:

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