Tree Explorers Project
Building on the success of the University College Cork (UCC) funded Open Arboretum Project, the Tree Explorers' Project was funded by Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) and ran from 2021 to 2023.
The Tree Explorers Project made use of the historic and nationally significant UCC Arboretum to engage primary and secondary school students as well as adults with STEM topics. The primary school strand of the project was specifically co-created with primary school teachers to target schools in communities at risk of disadvantage and social exclusion (DEIS schools). Engaging audiences with such living scientific collections has been shown to have significantly positive effects on educational attainment, mental and physical health, attitudes and knowledge of STEM subjects and careers, as well as a willingness to engage in dealing with global challenges such as climate change and biodiversity loss. The project involved in-school activities with project team members and student visits to the UCC Arboretum. The adult strand of the project delivered a tailored "UCC Tree Tour" and a series of workshops and talks for the public throughout the project, in addition to specific tours as part of Science Week, National Tree Week and other important STEM festivals. Educational materials, a self-guided map and an activity video linking trees to other STEM topics (climate, health, medicine, etc.) were also delivered.