Ministers Harris and Foley announce funding for TU Dublin Community Engagement Projects

Published: 28 Feb, 2024

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris TD and Minister for Education Norma Foley TD have announced funding for two TU Dublin 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.

One TU Dublin project announced is Try Five + (Biology, Engineering, Chemistry, Electronics, Rocketry + Coding), which is a co-created, research-informed suite of workshops based on the theme of Space Science and Exploration developed in line with the Irish Primary School Curriculum and intended to foster, increase and sustain levels of science aspiration in primary school pupils in DEIS schools.

Developed by Try Five +Project Lead Riona Fitzgerald and Senior Research Assistant Ana Cañizares, the initiative aims to: 

  • Enhance children's self-perceived understanding and liking of Science and Technology
  • Engineering and Maths (STEM) topics covered in workshops.
  • Increase awareness of STEM and future study and career opportunities.
  • Improve understanding of basic science methods.
  • Increase belief in the relevance of STEM subjects in our day-to-day lives.
  • Improve children's sense of self-efficacy in STEM.
  • Reduce stereotypes traditionally linked to STEM and increase equality, by portraying STEM subjects as accessible to all.

Welcoming the announcement, Try Five +Project Lead Riona Fitzgerald said: "Try Five + will deliver a series of workshops based on Space Science and Exploration for pupils in 4th and 5th classes. We will also a range of teacher resources and training materials will also be developed as part of this project, including a Summer CPD training course for teachers, a teacher-training manual, a pupil's workbook and a website."

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."

Read the full announcement here.