Irish Tree Explorers Network Project
The Irish Tree Explorers Network (ITEN) project is Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) funded, running from 2023 to 2025. ITEN will create a national network of living tree collections (e.g. arboreta, forest parks, urban parks, historic sites, etc.) which will engage the general public with important STEM topics. The ITEN approach will include:
- the development of digital STEM engagement tools that can be accessed across the network of sites by visitors, tour leaders, parents, teachers, etc. to explore STEM through the medium of a tree collection.
- the development of a mobile exhibition which can be deployed at partner sites, schools and other high-profile events to provide a hands-on level of engagement.
This tandem approach will ensure a high level of engagement with the project and the tools developed as well as allowing for some of the interactions and engagement to be at a deeper level. ITEN will use an interdisciplinary approach to engage participants with STEM topics. The project combines plant science and horticulture with the environmental humanities to maximise 'entry points' via which prospective participants can be encouraged to engage. This interdisciplinary approach is important as we grapple with era-defining global challenges such as climate change, biodiversity loss and food insecurity. These challenges require us to recognise important links between disciplines that can push forward the dialogue around climate justice, climate change mitigation and adaptation.
The project team and national-level project partners will co-create ITEN activities and materials. These resources will promote STEM through living collections and encourage the public to consider their response to global challenges.
The ITEN website is currently under development and will be ready for use in the next few months. Watch this space!