NUI Galway’s Cell EXPLORERS science outreach programme has announced the launch of their new partnership with the University of Limerick (UL ) and Athlone Institute of Technology (AIT ). Funded by a two-year Science Foundation Ireland Discover Award, the partnership will see teams visit primary schools in their localities sharing the wonder of science, allowing children to act like real scientists in their own classrooms.
Cell EXPLORERS has been running ‘Fantastic DNA!’ school science roadshows in Galway for the past four years. Teams of scientists from NUI Galway have visited schools throughout County Galway and taught 3,000 children about cells and DNA using hands-on activities and experiments.
The partnership aims to generate a network of Cell EXPLORERS teams passionate about science and able to sustainably deliver science outreach activities within their communities.
The Cell EXPLORERS programme, created in NUI Galway’s School of Natural Sciences, is based on a volunteering model where science students and staff give their time to spread their love of science with children. The programme aims to inform, inspire and involve the children in modern biology and biomedical sciences.
Cell EXPLORERS uses small group teaching and hands-on activities to engage the children and, by bringing undergraduate, postgraduate and researchers into classrooms, provides role models of real people involved in science. As a dual benefit it also trains the next generation of scientists in the skills needed to communicate with the public.
NUI Galway Cell EXPLORERS Director, Dr Muriel Grenon, said she is thrilled about the national expansion of the programme and am looking forward to spreading the Cell EXPLORERS model even wider in the coming year.
“Creating new Cell EXPLORERS teams in UL and AIT is an exciting new step for us. It is sensational to see the enthusiasm of our partner teams and the schools they have already visited. We want to build on this expansion to extend our reach to those schools that rarely get STEM visits.”
Dr Audrey O’Grady, who leads the UL team in the School of Science, said: “It is a great opportunity for our students to be part of the programme. Its organisation is very robust and it is allowing us to bring STEM to schools in a way that we have never explored before.”
Dr Erin Jo Tiedeken and Dr Alessia Stocca are leading the AIT team which is coordinated by Professor Neil Rowan of the Biosciences Research Institute at AIT. Professor Rowan said: “The programme will benefit both our scientists and schools in the midlands. We are already very enthusiastic about the new communication skills it will bring to our researchers.”
To find out more about the ‘Fantastic DNA’ roadshow and Cell EXPLORERS activities visit www.cellexplorers.com or by following Cell EXPLORERS on Facebook or Twitter.
Cell EXPLORERS activities, and the expansion of the programme to other institutions, is funded by SFI Discover, the NUI Galway School of Natural Sciences and by the NUI Galway Foundation.