Change Makers: Irish universities’ most innovative and transformative research projects solve real-life problems

20 Dec, 2021

The Irish Universities Association has partnered with RTÉ and New Decade TV to bring Ireland’s Change Makers, the most transformative research-led projects and the inspiring people behind them, to Irish television this coming January and February 2022.

The series will showcase the remarkable and lasting public impact of leading research projects by  eight universities in Ireland in areas such as children’s health, health technology, education, youth justice, gender equality and inclusion, as well as the environment.

The first episode focusing on Children’s Health and Well-Being will include a segment about Happy Maths, a project led by Dr Pierpaolo Dondio from the School of Computer Science based in Grangegorman. The Happy Maths project aims to reduce Maths Anxiety in primary school students using game-based learning.  TU Dublin developed educational games to help anxious and non-anxious students to feel more confident and engaged with Maths. Maths Anxiety (MA) is defined as “a debilitating negative emotional reaction towards mathematics”.

Affecting 1 in 6 students, this condition affects more girls than boys, thereby worsening gender inequality in STEM education. If MA is not dealt with, it will affect mathematics performance and have long-term effects on overall learning and poor self-esteem with numerical skills. MA involves panic, helplessness, paralysis, and mental disorganisation towards arithmetic and mathematical problems.

Commenting on the unique impact of Irish university research, Jim Miley, Director General of the IUA, said, “Irish universities play a crucial and growing role in solving real-life problems in society. Change Makers shines a light on the transformative research-led projects and  partnerships that are delivering meaningful change across Irish society. Be it in health, education, social sciences, the environment and  across all age ranges, the innovative research at our universities brings untold value to the people of Ireland now and will continue to do so in the future. Covid has shown the real value of science and research and our hope is that these powerful stories will make people realise the everyday benefits to people’s lives made possible by university research”.

The six episodes will feature research from University of Limerick’s ‘SI Drive’ and ‘Greentown’ projects; Dublin City University’s ‘Backdrop’ and its ‘Moving Well Being Well’ projects;  Maynooth University’s ‘Story Exchange’ and its ‘STEM Passport’ projects;  NUI Galway’s ‘HIVE’ and ‘Health Behaviour in School Aged Children Study’; Trinity College Dublin’s ‘Sorgente’ and ‘Neureka’ projects ; University College Cork’s ‘CIPHER Hip Hop Interpellation’ and ‘Dingle Peninsula 2030’ projects; UCD’s ‘Citizens Assembly’ and Ai PREMie projects; Technological University Dublin’s ‘Happy Maths’ project.

The 6-part series will be broadcast from Monday January 3rd 2022 at 8.30pm on RTE One television and the RTE Player.