The Digital Hub calls for recognition of out-of-school STEM learning programmes

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The Digital Hub, Ireland’s largest cluster of digital media, technology and Internet businesses, supports the actions recommended in the ‘STEM Education in the Irish School System Report’, to formally recognise and integrate informal STEM (Science, Technology, Education and Mathematics) learning programmes, into the curriculum in Irish schools.

Speaking at The Digital Hub’s sixth Future Creators graduation and showcase event, Fiach Mac Conghail, CEO at The Digital Hub said:

“The Digital Hub would like to highlight the important role that informal STEM learning programmes can play in inspiring young people to pursue further study and careers in STEM related areas. Informal programmes must form part of the solution to the problem of limited interest, proficiency and engagement of many Irish young people in STEM subjects in school and future careers. The Digital Hub, home to nearly 100 growing digital companies, is well-positioned to understand the effect the skills gap has on companies who need to hire the right staff in order to grow their businesses. Our Future Creators course, which has been running since 2011, and of which art and creativity is a cornerstone, is a shining example of informal STEM education in action that is achieving positive results for young people in our community.”

Mac Conghail also cited the use of digital technologies and other creative teaching materials as essential in enhancing STEM learning.   As an example of what is possible, he referred to the ‘Digital Skills Pathways for Youth across Europe’ initiative, launched earlier this year at the National College of Art and Design (NCAD), that supports young people and teachers across Europe with free online resources and materials to run programmes similar to Future Creators.

Special guest of honour at the Future Creators graduation and showcase event, an out of school digital media programme for 13-16 year olds, was Denis Naughten TD, Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment.  Addressing students and guests at the event, Minister Naughten said:

“Programmes such as Future Creators represent the future of STEM Education and community learning in Ireland and provide young people with both the digital and personal skills that are hugely important at third level and in the working world.  I am a science graduate so I know that the skills gained and appreciation for detail that an understanding of science offers is relevant across all fields of industry and employment today.  There is no separation between creativity and science – only synergy.  I congratulate all the Future Creators graduating today and I commend the team at The Digital Hub for driving STEM education so creatively.  Future Creators is a hugely important initiative and I am very proud to support it.”

Established in 2011 by The Digital Hub and delivered with the National College of Art and Design (NCAD) and H2 Learning, the Future Creators programme aims to equip young people from Dublin 8 with digital skills, including coding, app development, robotics, social media, digital photography and filmmaking.

The programme also works to enhance their exposure to STEM subjects and to build their confidence, so they may consider pursuing a career related to digital skills.The programme actively looks at ways to address issues with gender parity and the representation of positive female role models.

Twenty-four young people received special certificates of recognition at the special graduation ceremony for this year’s participants, held in the NCAD.  An interactive project designed and created by the young people was displayed.  The piece, called Fusion, is comprised of animation, sound, video and coding elements and demonstrates all the digital skills the young people developed over the course of the Future Creators programme.

Bernard Hanratty, Acting Director of NCAD commented on the programme, saying:

” NCAD’s partnership with H2 Learning and The Digital Hub along with our local schools continues to provide rich opportunities for engagement with local young people and is a real opportunity to critically engage with the Junior Cycle curriculum reform.”

The students participating in the 2017 Future Creators programme, included 10 females and 14 males, from local schools.

Sinead Burke, academic, writer and blogger behind the popular Minnie Mélange website, was the guest MC at the event.

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