The ambitious new ‘Maker Project’ will inspire thousands of young people across Ireland to make, create and invent with confidence and curiosity, and increase engagement in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM). That’s the message from Camara’s Patron and Ireland’s Digital Champion, David Puttnam, CBE, launching the programme today.

Youth groups nationwide will be trained to work through technology-enhanced activities spanning electronics, robotics and coding to music, arts and crafts as part of this major new initiative. The Maker Project is a partnership between the National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI) which represents youth organisations working with over 380,000 young people, and TechSpace, a leading creative technology network powered by the social enterprise Camara Education Ireland. The two year project is funded by Science Foundation Ireland.

Mary Cunningham, Director of the NCYI said: “The youth sector is embarking on a groundbreaking journey to inspire young people and those working with them to embrace STEM, 21st century skills and digital literacy in a creative way. This programme is significant – and it is just the first step. Ultimately, all young people in Ireland should have access to STEM and maker activities in an after-school setting, giving them skills and confidence that will be vital to their future lives.”

Addressing a need

Steven Daly, Camara Ireland Manager, explained: “9 out of 10 agree that young people’s interest in STEM is essential for Ireland’s future prosperity*. But a significant number of those working with young people feel they lack the skills or confidence to work on areas of STEM, with 76% citing a lack of training as an issue. Together with the fact that lower socioeconomic groups generally tend to be less engaged with STEM, the Maker Project will combat these issues by introducing youth workers to Maker activities in a fun and engaging way through TechSpace, which is already being delivered in over 65 educational sites nationally and is set to further expand its creative technology network.”

In 2017 and 2018, the project will see 320 youth workers from 70 organisations complete a training course on how to run Maker activities with young people. They, in turn, will work with thousands of young people through technology-enhanced activities in workshops and projects building their skills in areas including electronics, robotics and coding as well as music, arts and crafts.

“This project impacts a sector of the education system – the youth work sector – that is often underestimated for its reach and size. With nearly 400,000 young people, 40,000 volunteers, and 1,400 professional youth workers engaged, the youth work sector can play a significant role in realising the mission of SFI’s Discover Programme. We want to catalyse, inspire and guide the best in STEM education, outreach and public engagement, which is why we are delighted to announce this capacity-building partnership with the NYCI and Camara Education Ireland,” said Dr Ruth Freeman, Director of Strategy and Communications at Science Foundation Ireland.

Tech Fest: Ireland’s largest creative-tech festival for young people

Over 200 young people will also have the opportunity to celebrate and showcase their Maker and STEM skills at the Creative Tech Fest, TechSpace’s flagship event and Ireland’s largest celebration of youth-led creative technology activities.

More information is available here:

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