Dublin City University launched the 2019 STEM Teacher Internship programme in DCU’s Institute of Education on Wednesday, April 10th providing DCU STEM teacher education students with the unique opportunity to avail of an internship experience in the STEM industry. To date, the programmes has provided 57 DCU STEM teachers with a 12 week experience in 20 of Ireland’s leading companies, including Accenture, AIB, Alexion, Bank of Ireland, Ericsson, Gas Networks, Ervia – Irish Water, EY, Fidelity International, Fidelity Investment, GE, HPE, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, PWC, SSE Airtricity, Virgin Media, Vodafone and Xilinx. This flagship programme is supported by an education-industry collaboration that is strongly committed to supporting innovative and creative approaches to STEM education in Ireland.
The programme is led by two DCU STEM education academics, Associate Professor Eilish McLoughlin Director CASTeL and Chair of the BSc in Science Education and Professor Deirdre Butler who specialises in Digital Learning. The programme, which is now in its fourth year was developed in partnership with Accenture and the 30% Club in 2016 with the overall aim of providing future STEM teachers with a personal experience of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) roles and careers in Industry.
Academic Coordinator for the programme Eilish McLoughlin, Associate Professor and Director of the CASTeL research centre for STEM Education explained: “The impact of this programme is such that it extends and deepens the competences and knowledge of STEM for these teachers and enhances the teaching and learning of STEM in their classrooms and schools. The potential impact of this programme is immense. The 57 participating teachers will teach STEM subjects in our schools and inspire over 20,000 primary and 185,000 second level students during their teaching careers.”
Academic Coordinator for the programme Deirdre Butler, Professor, DCU Institute of Education emphasised: “Engagement in such partnerships is critical as what teachers know and can do is the most important influence on what students learn. The importance of developing teachers’ STEM competences cannot be emphasised enough, especially as teacher quality, not funding, is the determinant factor among conditions that support the performance of the world’s best education systems.”
Numerous research studies have found that teachers are a key influencer of students’ subject choices, second only to parents. This internship will enable these teachers to get valuable hands-on experience of the many opportunities available within STEM industries. This in turn will enable them to advise students on the career options available, in particular female students who are less inclined than their male counterparts, to pursue STEM programmes at University level. The programme provides opportunities for DCU ‘s primary and post-primary concurrent and consecutive teacher education programmes, including BSc Science Education, BSc Physical Education with Biology/Mathematics, BEd (Primary), Professional Masters in Education (PME) primary and post-primary.
Dr Anne Looney, Dean of DCU Institute of Education said: “The programme, unique to DCU, gives future teachers opportunities to see beyond schools into new and emerging forms of work, and to bring that experience to the children and young people they will teach. They bring their experiences and connections from their internships into the classrooms, schools and communities they join in September, and to their teaching career into the future. It’s an exciting development and one we want to grow in DCU.”
Paula Neary, Managing Director and STEM Sponsor, Accenture in Ireland said: “We have been conducting research into girls’ participation in STEM since 2013. Our most recent report highlights the challenges that continue to exist in equipping teachers with the knowledge to inform younger females of the opportunities presented by a STEM career. As Ireland continues to position itself as the epicentre of the world’s digital economy, we need to future proof the talent pipeline, so that half the population isn’t excluded from the opportunities that STEM presents and to this end, industry has an important role to play.”
Mr. Bernie Capraro, Silicon Technology Research Manager at Intel Ireland said: “Programmes such as this one, which are grounded in real and practical experiences of modern workplaces, are a great way to prepare our future talent. Whilst we may not know the exact jobs that the future will rely upon, we can be fairly certain that most of them will be underpinned by technology so having a first-hand experience of how technology is driving the workplace of today is absolutely invaluable.”