NUI Galway team up with Google to promote STEM among student teachers

The School of Education at NUI Galway, supported by Google Ireland, has announced an innovative project titled “Creative Coding for Maths Makers.” The new project integrates mathematical and computer programming concepts, with a specific focus on promoting STEM amongst student teachers.

BA Mathematics and Education student teachers at NUI Galway will be working with primary and post-primary school children to promote mathematics and computer programming integration. Both student teachers and school children will develop an understanding and design of innovative mathematical concepts by a coding interface and will then render their virtual models physically in the MakerSpace.

Unique, and the only facility of its kind in an Irish university, the MakerSpace in the James Hardiman Library at NUI Galway is a space purposefully designed to facilitate engaged teaching and learning. It’s a space where students can be creative, collaborate, share, develop ideas, innovate, and generally just ‘make stuff’. The computers available in the MakerSpace have a higher specification than those available in most of the PC suites on campus. MakerSpace offers a 3D printing service*. Such exposure and experience is of value to students as it replicates life in a STEM industry.

Claire Conneely, Computer Science Education Programme Manager at Google Ireland said they are excited to support the Creative Coding for Maths Makers programme at NUI Galway.

“Embedding Computer Science as a fundamental and rigorous subject throughout the entire school curriculum - including the introduction of Computer Science as a Leaving Certificate subject later this year - will ensure that students have a deeper understanding of how they can use technology to be creative and solve problems. Equally important is growing the confidence and skillset of the next generation of teachers, so that Computer Science will be accessible and available to all students across Ireland in the coming years,” she said.

Professor Gerry MacRuairc, Professor of Education and Head of School added that this Google-funded programme reinforces the philosophy of the School that technology will not replace teachers but it is essential that teachers are introduced to many forms of technology in their teacher education programmes.”

In order to be a catalyst for positive change in computer science education, Google has sponsored projects like the NUI Galway ‘Creative Coding for Maths Makers’ program in order to help address a key challenge for computing education in Ireland, in the preparation and up-skilling of teachers to deliver the new Computer Science curricula in primary and post-primary Irish schools.

Leading the project is Dr Cornelia Connolly in the School of Education at NUI Galway who says the introduction of coding in schools and the new Computer Science Leaving Certificate present a landmark opportunity for STEM advancement in Ireland; however, there is the challenge now to prepare teachers properly to teach these key STEM areas in an engaging and effective way. Projects like ‘Creative Coding for Maths Makers’ enable us to start doing this in Galway, in partnership with schools in the city and region.”

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