Many Midlands Students Unaware of Science Career Opportunities

Dr Craig Slattery at LynchsLocal teens are not necessarily avoiding science career choices due to the subject being too difficult or not cool enough. It may in fact be the case that they are simply not aware of the multitude of science related jobs there are out there, according to a recent survey of a selection of Midlands schools by the organisers of the Midlands Science Festival.

Jackie Gorman, Festival Director said,
‘While we found enthusiasm for science remains high among students, an overwhelming 95 per cent of those questioned admitted they knew very little about potential career options in science related fields. It was also worth noting that 3 out of 4 students who were surveyed would like science to be taught differently, for it to be more fun and engaging and connected to real life!

The Midlands Science Festival, supported by Science Foundation Ireland, is now heading into its third year in this region and one of the main objectives of this week-long event is to demonstrate the many exciting career opportunities available within Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths disciplines. The festival team has also recently commenced another new Midlands based project entitled, Science with Inspirational Mentors (SWIM) which places a strong emphasis on mentoring from role models and champions from those in the science education and corporate sectors. The project, also supported by Science Foundation Ireland, complements the national Smart Futures programme.

Prof Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government stated, “It is vitally important for students to have events like the Midlands Festival and Smart Futures to open their eyes to the variety of pathways available when pursuing careers in science, engineering or technology. The Smart Futures programme is managed by Science Foundation Ireland in partnership with Engineers Ireland to ensure students and their parents and teachers have ready access to young people working in science, engineering and technology. Students are encouraged to visit www.SmartFutures.ie to read about people studying and working in a variety of exciting areas from food science to cybersecurity.”

Jackie Gorman added,
‘The aforementioned research suggests there is a real urgency to ensure that young people are getting the best type of careers advice possible and by taking it beyond just the classroom and into real working environments, we hope we are going in the right direction. We need to increase interest in these fields and work towards inspiring the next generation of scientists and engineers. If you are a second level student who is still undecided about your career path, the Midlands Science Festival which is due to take place this November will certainly provide plenty of stimulation and hopefully help you to make more informed decisions about your future options.’

For further information please contact: Jackie Gorman on jgorman@atlanticcorridor.ie

Inspirational Mentors for Midlands Schools

SWIM Pic haywood april 14thAtlantic Corridor was delighted to kick start a brand new education initiative for the Midlands in recent weeks with the launch of the Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) funded project, Science with Inspirational Mentors (SWIM)

This programme is being delivered in partnership with SFI along with the Amber Centre in Trinity College Dublin and focuses on bringing mentors or role models with science or technology backgrounds into Midlands’ secondary schools to deliver career talks and demonstrate in a hand on way why a career in science is a good choice. Volunteers for this initiative are from life sciences organisations and technology companies, as well as from research centres and academia.

Science expertise involves whole-life learning—beyond the confines of any classroom or laboratory. It is so important that when learning science it includes innovation and creativity, up to date resources, engagement and partnerships that empower and enable the students to connect learning to actual real-world situations. These career talks are aimed at Transition Year students, with a view to encouraging them to keep on STEM subjects, but are also available for Senior Cycle students who are still unsure about third level options and preferences.

CEO of Atlantic Corridor, Jackie Gorman said,
‘SWIM aims increase participation in STEM education and careers in the Midlands. A new suite of activities is being delivered in collaboration with Cpl Recruitment and the Amber Centre in Trinity College and will specifically focus on the Life Sciences sector. The project will place a strong emphasis on mentoring from role models and champions for Life Sciences education. With this in mind, we are asking anyone with a science background who feels they have the experience and passion to potentially act as a role model to the next generation of Midlands scientists to please get in touch. Being a role model extends beyond just presenting science in a well-informed way. It’s someone who will encourage and nurture curiosity about science. It’s also someone who wants to make a difference by teaching science and is passionate about how it affects our daily lives.’

To date, presentations have been delivered in a number of Offaly, Laois and Westmeath second level schools with further events planned for the coming months.

Jennifer Navan, Principal Team Lead at leading recruitment specialist Cpl commented,
‘Cpl is delighted to support the SWIM initiative which gives Midlands students the opportunity to develop their knowledge of the world of work and the types of future jobs that might be available to them, particularly in the subject areas of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths. The more work that can be done by scientific role models in this region, the more likely it is that students will consider one of these fields as a future career option. Many of the global medical technologies and pharmaceutical companies now have a dedicated presence in the Midlands and we would like to generate an increased interest in these fields and work towards inspiring the next generation of scientists and engineers.’

A key part of SFI’s mission is to contribute to Ireland’s continued growth and development as a society – one that has an active and informed interest and involvement in STEM. Atlantic Corridor is playing an active role to ensure that this happens in the Midlands counties and will continue the delivery of SWIM across Offaly, Laois, Westmeath and Longford for the remainder of this year.

Jackie Gorman continued,
‘Volunteer STEM Ambassadors have a critical role here in inspiring young people in STEM subjects through real life examples but it can be difficult to demonstrate to young people how important these subjects are without seeing how they can be put to use in industry. Follow on events such as plant tours of key Midlands multinational companies, science camps at Trinity College and work placements will be high on the agenda as we continue to roll out this important programme for the rest of 2015.’

For further information please contact Jackie Gorman, Atlantic Corridor: 057 93 239 02

FUNDING APPROVED FOR INSPIRATIONAL MIDLANDS SCIENCE PROJECT

Atlantic Corridor is delighted to announce a brand new project for 2015, following recent Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) approval. This initiative which will be run in partnership with SFI along with the Amber Centre in Trinity College Dublin and is entitled ‘Science with Inspirational Mentors’ or SWIM.

CEO OF Atlantic Corridor Jackie Gorman commented,
‘We are delighted to have received the funding from SFI, though its SFI Discover Programme Call, for this exciting new project, which aims to increase participation in STEM education and careers in our region. A new suite of activities will be delivered in collaboration with Trinity College and will specifically focus on the Midlands Life Sciences sector, which has strong potential for cluster development and growth. Proposed activities will address economic and educational disadvantage whilst also focussing on the potential the region has in this particular sector. We are looking forward to working with both industry and academic partners in rolling this out for 2015.’

Atlantic Corridor intend to design and deliver pilot programmes which will increase student interest in Life Sciences subjects and careers and will employ practices that research indicates are effective in creating student interest such as content related to real-world applications, ideally though hands-on learning. The project will place a strong emphasis on mentoring from those in the education and corporate sectors and also from role models and champions for Life Sciences education.
SWIM will make a strong contribution to Ireland’s national vision to be a global knowledge leader that places scientific and engineering research at the core of its society to power economic development and social progress. It also contributes to bringing such development and progress to a region, which has issues related to economic development and educational attainment. This work will be done by providing classroom activities and content that compliments the existing curriculum and links it to industry case studies.

Keep an eye out to see how this project develops in the year ahead!