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1.1 MATHEMATICS, 1.2 COMPUTER AND INFORMATION SCIENCE, 1.3 PHYSICAL SCIENCES, 1.4 CHEMICAL SCIENCES, 1.6 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES, 2. ENGINEERING AND TECHNOLOGY
This paper outlines the roll-out of a project called SwitchOnSTEM.ie that aims to enhance Irish Higher Education (HE) STEM engagement with second level pupils. Through providing freely available all-in-one resources for hands-on activities that can be used by HE staff and students at STEM events, it aims to remove barriers to participation in STEM engagement. The project was funded by Science Foundation Ireland’s SFI-Discover programme in 2015.
An interdisciplinary STEM team from five Higher Education Institutions in Ireland was formed and initially collaborated with a more experienced UK based HEA National STEM Project funded researcher. Together the team designed high quality activities with a hands-on focus, across the full range of STEM disciplines. They were directed and supported in these endeavours by an experienced Science Communicator who was employed onto the project as a developer and who also had a role in creating the supporting resources to accompany the activities. Each resource includes equipment and consumable lists, an instructional video as well as a manual/operating procedure, safety information, and technical information explaining the science whilst linking it to the Irish secondary school curriculum. All materials were packaged into a multimedia file and hosted through a dedicated, extensible, SwitchOnSTEM.ie website. The website also acts as a landing site with links to other useful STEM engagement resources. The presentation will showcase some of these activities and direct the audience to the others.
The project evaluation involved pilot events at two Dublin secondary schools, and included appointing 15 demonstrators unrelated to the project to run the activities. Evaluation involved online surveys to determine the pupils’ sentiments towards the activities (N=200), before/after paper-based surveys to ascertain student learning from participation in the activities (N=40), and feedback from the activity demonstrators. The presentation will conclude with the outcome of this evaluation, and the changes made to the resources based on the results.
Dunne, J.L, McFadden, C., O’Leary, C. (2016). SwitchOnSTEM.ie: Resources to support Higher Education Engagement activities. Proceedings from New Perspectives in Science Education, 5th Edition. Florence, Italy, March 17-18. doi:10.21427/6w0z-0137