Dr Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin has joined a JA volunteer in Cabinteely Community School in facilitating the Futurewize programme which aims to inspire young junior cycle students to explore career possibilities in the areas of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).
Dr Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin, Assistant Professor in the UCD School of Mathematics & Statistics and science communicator, is Brand Ambassador for Futurewize and was delighted to immerse herself in the programme, saying: “The Futurewize programme is a fantastic opportunity for students to learn more about STEM subjects in a fun, interactive way and also be inspired by positive role models from industry who can provide them with an insight into what it is like to work in STEM related businesses. Today’s session really underlined the impact the programme can have on students, especially girls, who may not have thought a career in STEM was for them.”
Futurewize is supported by Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) and industry partner Fidelity Investments, and was designed by JAI for delivery by business volunteers from STEM industries. These volunteers will act as role models from the world of work by sharing their own real-life experiences as they work through the Futurewize modules. The modules map the four strands of the Junior Cycle science curriculum: Earth and Space, Chemical World, Physical World and Biological World. By the end of the 2016/17 school year, more than 2,000 secondary-school students will have completed Futurewize with 80 trained business volunteers from Fidelity Investments and other volunteer companies.
Kieran McEnery from Fidelity Investments, who taught Futurewize to the 1st year class in Cabinteely Community School over the course of five weeks, said: “I had a wonderful experience facilitating the Futurewize programme in Cabinteely Community School. After my initial nerves dissipated I enjoyed opening the students’ eyes to the world of STEM and the opportunities that could lie ahead of them if they pursue an interest in this area.”
Kieran was delighted to have Dr Ní Shúilleabháin with him for his final session: “To be joined in class by Dr Ní Shúilleabháin was an impactful way to finish the programme. I am proud that Fidelity Investments are supporting such a worthwhile initiative.”
Michelle Lyne, science teacher in Cabinteely Community School, said: “My 1st year students thoroughly enjoyed the Futurewize programme as it really brought the STEM subjects to life in a fun accessible way. Our Fidelity Investments volunteer Kieran McEnery was a great role model from industry, who underlined the range of career opportunities flowing from STEM subjects, and it was inspiring to hear from Dr Ní Shúilleabháin and learn about her passion for STEM.”
Dr Ruth Freeman, Director of Strategy and Communications for Science Foundation Ireland, said: “Science Foundation Ireland is proud to support Junior Achievement Ireland in delivering the Futurewize programme. In partnering with our Smart Futures STEM careers programme, Futurewize will help to inspire the next generation of scientists and technologists in Ireland. The Programme connects young people with role models that can share valuable career insights, ultimately empowering them to make more informed decisions about their future study and career paths.”
On behalf of JAI, Chief Executive Helen Raftery, said: “JAI has been supported by industry and school leaders in delivering entrepreneurship education opportunities to young people for 20 years. Futurewize is a great addition to the menu of options we offer our partner schools and businesses as the programme inspires students to reach their full potential and consider the variety of careers available to them in STEM.”