The importance of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) disciplines for the future well-being of Ireland’s economy is critical and cannot be underestimated but in the current environment, there is an unquestionable lack of available skills in these fields. The technology sector however, is currently thriving so choosing a STEM career unlocks a range of employment opportunities for young people across the country. Cpl has been working with Atlantic Corridor and other partners over the past number of years to help ensure that Ireland continues to produce the levels of highly skilled graduates that are required and we hope that collectively, we can work towards reducing the declining number of students applying to related STEM courses
I was delighted to receive my offer to study Nanoscience at TCD. I have loved science from a very young age and think it is so important to start encouraging pupils as early as primary school level about what an adventure it can be to explore science and all its wonders. Events such as the Midlands Science Festival ensure that children as young as five years old have the opportunity to see how certain elements of science work, but in a more fun and often lighthearted way. I dressed up as a scientist for a primary school fashion show years ago; that’s how young I was when I fell in love with science!
The Atlantic Corridor SWIM project places a strong emphasis on utilising experienced role models and champions from those in the education and corporate sectors to encourage young people to pursue careers in science and technology. I was delighted to see one of these inspirational speaker in my son’s school as the Midlands is now home to several multinational companies but it can be difficult for young people to understand what it is like to work in one of them. Overall, it is critical to encourage more participation in science throughout the whole education system and SWIM is taking that step in the right direction.
It is our belief that once an appreciation of maths and a curiosity of science is established, often through fun activities such as maths trails or attending Midlands Science Festival events, it will stay with them forever and indeed many of our past pupils have taken up careers in the world of science and maths.
I have been working with the Midlands Science Festival team over the past couple of years as a speaker, science communicator and advisor. In my view, this annual event has proven very successful in working to really encourage young people to study towards something that they have a passion for, and it has a most unique way of demonstrating just how exciting and diverse science can actually be. Amongst other key messages, the festival sets out to show students just how flexible and very attractive science qualifications are to prospective employers across many different fields.
As a science lecturer for the past 25 years, I am aware of the challenges that still exist when it comes to trying to attract young people into science courses and careers particularly in the educationally challenged Midlands region. I have witnessed how increasingly popular Midlands Science Festival events are becoming as they work to attract people of all ages including students and parents with a variety of different activities going on throughout the week across the region. The Midlands Science Festival is now a valuable voice in the Midlands each November and I strongly believe that it really is instrumental in the work we are trying to collectively do to instill a passion of STEM subjects in order to ensure the next generation of local scientists and engineers.