Gas Networks Ireland, in partnership with Junior Achievement Ireland (JAI), is bringing the Our Universe programme to over 5,000 primary school students around Ireland. The programme introduces science through practical and engaging classroom-based lessons and is designed to encourage primary school students to continue with science as they transition to second level. Each year, 200 volunteers from organisations around the country will be recruited, trained and supported by JAI to facilitate the in-classroom programme, which is an integral part of Gas Networks Ireland’s commitment to fostering students’ interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM).
Our Universe comprises five modules spanning the fundamentals of science while highlighting its value to young people in their everyday lives. Promoting STEM to primary school students in a fun and interactive way is crucial in promoting a positive attitude to science. Labour market data show that Ireland continues to experience a skills shortage in the STEM sector despite major growth and employment opportunities.
Launching Our Universe at Corpus Christi Primary School, Moyross, Limerick, Minister Jan O’Sullivan said “It is absolutely vital that we have adequate numbers of qualified science graduates if we are to continue to grow the STEM sector in Ireland. These are the graduates of 2025 and the Ireland of 2025 and beyond will increasingly depend on scientists, engineers and innovators. With the help of businesses like Gas Networks Ireland, we will ensure a sustainable supply of qualified personnel in the STEM sector supporting Ireland’s economic growth and development. We will also give these students the widest possible range of options for their futures. Complementing the primary school science curriculum, programmes like Our Universe will enable our young people to explore STEM and encourage them to choose science subjects for the Leaving Cert and beyond.”
“Our Universe is a great programme to educate students in the areas of energy, physics, chemistry and biology. The lessons focus on areas that appeal to young people such as how the human skeleton works, how forensic science helps solve crime as well our own energy module. We hope that students and business volunteers alike enjoy the programme and that, in the long term, it will help to cultivate a greater number of STEM graduates and skilled professionals in the future” said Caroline O’Connor, Corporate Responsibility Manager, Gas Networks Ireland.
“We are delighted to have the support of the Minister for Education and Gas Networks Ireland at today’s launch. It is critical that industry and education come together to excite young people about studying science and the skills required for success,” said Helen Raftery, CEO JAI. She continued “It is through the support of partners like Gas Networks Ireland that we are able to connect our students with business volunteers who in turn share their insights and expertise, linking the classroom and the ‘real-world’ to enhance their learning experience. We look forward to continuing in partnership with Gas Networks Ireland to ensure 5,000 primary students enjoy the opportunity to learn about our universe in the coming years."
Our Universe will be delivered to 6th class primary school students across the country and volunteers from member organisations will begin facilitating the programme in the coming weeks.