News and Views

Ireland’s Secret Past project hailed for STEM engagement

14 Feb 2019
UCC's Dr Maria McNamara and Dr Chris Rogers, representing their funded project Ireland’s Secret Past: Unlocking Our Fossil Heritage.

Ireland’s Secret Past: Unlocking Our Fossil Heritage at UCC has been selected as one of Ireland’s best STEM education and public engagement projects and will receive funding through SFI’s Discover Programme.

Minister for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development, John Halligan TD, today announced a national investment of €3.6 million, to fund projects aimed at improving public understanding of STEM and to support education initiatives for under-represented groups.

The SFI Discover Awards will provide funding for 41 diverse initiatives that inspire and guide STEM education, selected through international peer-review, and in addition, 11 projects awarded in 2017 will have their funding continued for a second year.

Ireland’s Secret Past: Unlocking Our Fossil Heritage will reach out to thousands of Irish children and adults via innovative hands-on, digital and interpersonal formats that encourage hypothesis-testing and active kinaesthetic learning.

The project will feature bespoke resources tailored to nationally important fossils found in specific locations around the country will complement a novel national network of urban fossil trails.

By raising the profile of palaeontology, this project will inspire curiosity in our ancient past at a national scale, ultimately reforming national science curricula and stimulating pursuit of STEM careers.

Speaking at the SFI Discover Awards event, Minister Halligan said: “Ireland continues to act as a hub for excellent research and the initiatives being funded through this year’s SFI Discover programme will help to generate enthusiasm for STEM and highlight the individual, societal and economic value of encouraging more people in Ireland to get involved.”



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