The National Youth Council of Ireland is delighted to announce, with a range of partners, we have been awarded grants from the Science Foundation of Ireland (SFI) for two major new STEAM projects (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Maths).
Never more than in the last year has the importance of science and technology in our lives been more apparent. From understanding what viruses are and how they pass between us, to the critical role technology has played in keeping us connected, learning and working when we have had to stay at home.
Yet people’s experiences with STEAM – the way we engage with it, use it and learn it varies vastly. Young people from certain groups and backgrounds, such as girls and those who face disadvantage, may be less likely to enter and progress in STEAM-related careers and even to take part in enjoyable STEAM events, festivals and exhibitions.
Over the last few years NYCI’s STEAM in Youth Work project has highlighted the valuable role the youth work, alternative and non-formal education sectors can play in addressing some such inequities. It has shown that STEAM education in such settings can:
- deliver STEAM that is relevant to young people’s lives and captures their imaginations
- make STEAM hands-on and enjoyable and a process where failure is important and mistakes provide valuable learning opportunities
- change young people’s perceptions about STEAM and STEAM careers
- lead to a range of benefits for young people, such as improving their self-confidence and perceptions of their own abilities
- help young people develop a range of transferable skills required for future work such as creativity, problem-solving, team working and resilience in learning.
Our project has shown that including STEAM enhances youth work in unique ways. It provides youth workers with fresh new tools to engage young people that they may otherwise struggle to engage through more established youth work approaches.
A new independent evaluation report by Sinéad Begley & Associates, which surveyed over 100 youth workers and educators highlights the successes of NYCI’s STEAM in Youth Work project. It paints an inspiring picture of a diverse range of practice that is emerging in the field covering electronics, robotics, coding, sustainability, ecology, botanical art, light, space and the universe. It has evidenced the very valuable role of youth work, alternative and non-formal education in creating access for young people from communities who are underserved in terms of fun, hands-on STEAM education. It allows us to estimate that, in the next year, youth workers and educators trained in STEAM by NYCI so far will go on to deliver exciting new projects to more than 5,000 young people in youth work, alternative and non-formal education settings.
We are delighted now, with two new grants from SFI, to be able to build on these successes with our partners, to continue to support youth workers, Youthreach staff and other educators in pioneering new projects that inspire young people’s interest and engagement in STEAM.
Our STEAM in Youth Work project will be delivered in with: Carlow Regional Youth Service; Foroige Ballyhaunis Youth Service; Ballymun Anseo School Completion Programme; Ossory Youth Service; Irish Girl Guides; Empowerment Plus; SWICN Computer Clubhouse; Ballymun Regional Youth Service; Ferns Diocesan Youth Services, Shambles Youth Café; Department of Applied Social Sciences, Limerick Institute of Technology; Maynooth University’s Department of Applied Social Studies; NYCI’s Development Education Programme; and NYCI’s National Youth Arts Programme.
Full STEAM Ahead – A partnership approach to STEAM in Youthreach is our new partnership project. It will be delivered with Ballymun Youthreach (City of Dublin ETB), Tuam Youthreach (Galway Roscommon ETB), Shanagolden Youthreach (Limerick and Clare ETB), the National Co-ordination Unit, Office of the National Co-ordinator for Youthreach/VTOS and CASTeL, DCU (the Centre for the Advancement of STEM Teaching and Learning). It will support our three Youthreach partners to design and deliver cutting-edge STEAM education. Learning will be used to develop a range of educational management, teaching and extra-curricular resources that will be shared with the wider Youthreach sector. To celebrate the launch of ‘Full STEAM Ahead’ we are giving away equipment for summer programmes in Youthreach centres. Find out more here.