Cell EXPLORERS has been funded again for another 2 years!
We are delighted to share that Cell EXPLORERS has been successfully awarded further Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) funding under their Discover Programme as part of the Cell EXPLORERS network. The funding awards were announced in March by Simon Harris TD, Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, as part of a national investment of €5.2 million through the Science Foundation Ireland Discover Programme. The awards are allocated to projects dedicated to inspiring and empowering the public in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects in 2021.
The programme has reached more than 38,500 members of the public and involved more than 2,250 team members since its creation in 2012. In 2020, the programme successfully adapted some of its activities to work remotely online, in response to social distancing measures incurred by the current COVID-19 crisis. In particular the development of “Fantastic DNA in a box”, a classroom kit containing both materials and resources, allows pupils/students extract DNA from a banana individually in their classroom under the guidance of their teacher and Cell EXPLORERS scientists through a secure Zoom connection.The Cell EXPLORERS network remotely visited 34 schools and engaged with 1,080 children across Ireland with this new activity.
Over the next two years, with the support of the SFI Discover funding programme 2020, the Cell EXPLORERS Network will continue to run school visits and activities nationally, both online and in-person (when safe to do so). New partnerships will include the Galway STEAM Project (a joint TUSLA and Foróige project) and will allow better reach to those who do not typically engage with STEM.
The programme‘s research shows that many children (aged 10-12 years old) have narrow and stereotypical views of what a scientist does and have had few opportunities to meet a scientist. This project will revise both its activities and practices informed by these findings and the Science Capital Teaching Approach - a specific way of teaching that employs social justice methods designed to both broaden young peoples’ views of what it means to be a scientist, and widen participation. This will allow the programme to maximise impact and to develop best practice of E&PE activities.
Sarah Carroll, the National Coordinator of Cell EXPLORERS said “We are delighted to once again be funded by the SFI Discover programme. We are committed to maintaining our network, which is essential for the exchange of best practice and collaboration throughout our teams. We are proud of our teams’ ability to adapt to facilitating meaningful scientist-pupil interactions within an online space that connect the classroom with the laboratory, and will continue to combat science-related misconceptions”.
Two other NUI Galway public engagement and education initiatives have been funded including CÚRAM ‘Science Waves' Project and the ReelLIFE SCIENCE video competition programme directed by our friend Enda O’Connell, a project on which we are collaborating every year.