Mary Immaculate College (MIC) has recently been awarded €350,000 towards the development of a major STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics) outreach initiative which will see the establishment of a dynamic and interactive public exhibition and interactive workshop space entitled CRAFT Maker Space, allowing for the innovative fusion of creative arts and STEM education. This space will be the first of its kind to be located in the Mid-West region.
The funding was awarded by the Higher Education Authority as part of a competitive performance evaluation process to recognise the impact of Irish higher education institutions in alignment with national priorities and targets. An independent review panel took particular note of the leadership shown by MIC in recent years in the promotion of STEM education and its partnership with schools, industry and other stakeholders in fostering the development of STEM skills in children.
Informed by its long experience and expertise in the area of STEM and Arts education within the teacher education and public engagement context, MIC has set as a high priority within its current Strategic Plan – A Flourishing Learning Community – in advancing national STEM / STEAM, creative arts and digital skills agendas. Through its leadership and expertise, the College has been able to bring about authentic pedagogical interventions for early years, primary and post-primary children and to collaborate with a range of partners in the broader educational, community and private sectors to ensure that these interventions are appropriate for children as learners and, as a result, make it possible to sustain the interest taken by children in STEM disciplines over long term.
Speaking on the announcement Professor Eugene Wall, President of MIC, said “We are delighted that the HEA recognises MIC’s expertise in the area of STEAM advancement and has committed €350k towards the development of an exciting new public exhibition and maker space entitled CRAFT (Creative Arts / Future Technologies). This space will be first of its kind in the mid-west region of Ireland and we look forward to building upon existing, and developing new partnerships with educational, community and industry stakeholders in order to successfully realise this ambitious project for the benefit of future generations”.
According to Dr Maeve Liston, Director of Enterprise and Community Engagement, MIC, who has been at the forefront of developing and promoting STEM initiatives within the mid-west region, the key vision of the CRAFT Maker Space will be to catalyse the public’s engagement with STEAM through a variety of outreach activities focusing on building creativity, innovation and STEAM skills for life. “As part of this outreach initiative we will develop and deliver new bespoke science education strategies aimed at providing opportunities for conceptual and practical engagement, by children, with next generation technologies, including digital coding, robotics, artificial intelligence etc. through developmentally and educationally appropriate means, including visual art, music and performance.”
She continued to say that the aim of the CRAFT Maker Space will be to empower children, teachers and the public to embrace innovation, enhance creativity and critical thinking skills through exploration and play, presented through STEAM activities.
The CRAFT Maker Space, which will be housed within John Henry Newman Campus, MIC, in the heart of Limerick City, will cost in the region of €800k. MIC is currently actively seeking partnerships with industry stakeholders and philanthropic organisations in order to source the remaining necessary funds. Development will begin in April 2020 and it is hoped that the exhibition space will be open to the public in August 2020.