CRAFT Maker Space at Mary Immaculate College, Limerick



Who We Are

Mary Immaculate College (MIC) is a leading third-level institution in Ireland in the provision of programmes in the teaching of STEAM at primary level and are at the frontline of teacher education playing an important role in shaping the attitudes and fostering the values of STEAM education for 21st century learners through both formal and informal educational outreach initiatives. The CRAFT Maker Space builds on this work and is an initiative contained within the Mary Immaculate College Strategic Plan 2023.

The Vision

The CRAFT Maker Space aims to demystify STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art & Mathematics) and to catalyse the public’s engagement with STEAM through a variety of accessible and inclusive outreach activities for families that focus on building creativity, innovation and STEAM skills for life.

Who will benefit from this project?

The overall aim of the CRAFT Maker Space at MIC is to enable children (5-15 years old), and the public to embrace innovation, enhance creativity and critical thinking skills. This will be achieved through exploration, play, STEAM activities as well as design, and build opportunities.

The CRAFT workshops will involve collaborative engineering design projects placing an emphasis on the concept that we are all makers i.e. we are all designers, engineers, scientists, mathematicians, inventors, ‘thinkers’, artists, crafters etc.

The immediate outcomes of this project will involve children engaging with STEAM subject matters such as robotics, coding, science and engineering design challenges, design thinking, construction, testing prototypes and so on. These opportunities are rare in a classroom setting. The CRAFT space will be a welcoming, non-threatening, informal space for families from all backgrounds to engage with STEAM.

CRAFT aims to influence the learning experiences of children in ways that help to ensure that the inevitable predominance of science, engineering, technology and digital literacy, at future stages in their lives, is enriching and empowering to them, rather than alienating or disenfranchising.

The workshops will involve volunteers from our pre-service primary teachers at MIC. These future teachers will develop key skills in designing and delivering STEAM activities that they can implement in classrooms nationally. Therefore, this project will not only directly impact children and families in Limerick and the surrounding areas but will also foreground and enhance STEAM education in schools right around the country.

Collaborations

In order to deliver on our proposed CRAFT Maker Space, we will collaborate with as many STEM industries that share our vision and are interested in the future development and provision of STEAM education.

It is envisaged that the STEAM workshops will be co-designed with STEM and STEAM education experts from MIC with representatives from local industry and STEM educational outreach initiatives. This will ensure that all workshops will involve teaching and learning methodologies suitable for children of all abilities and from all backgrounds. The workshops will incorporate information on key advances in STEAM and STEAM careers, thus allowing participants to apply what they are learning to everyday life and possible future careers.

Impact

First and foremost, the aim of the CRAFT Maker Space is to create opportunities for engagement in STEAM disciplines by children at primary and post-primary education levels and their families.

In the longer term and more broadly, and as anticipated legacy outcomes, the aims are:

  1. To develop ‘STEAM’ champions within our future generation of teachers i.e. within our cohort of pre-service primary teachers that will be involved in the delivery of the CRAFT Maker Space workshops with children and parents;
  2. To develop a network of key stakeholders in the STEM educational outreach space, working collaboratively together in the mid-west region in delivering truly authentic learning experiences for children;
  3. To disseminate research that supports the STEAM approach to engagement with the STEM disciplines to inform the future design and development of STEAM educational outreach initiatives into the future.

Current MIC STEAM Outreach Activities include:

  • Tipperary Festival of Science – founded and managed by MIC
  • Mid-West Vex Robotics programme – MIC in association with Dell Technologies
  • MIC Lego Innovation Studio
  • Coder Dojo in Limerick city
  • A STEAM-Ed project (funded by Science Foundation Ireland)
  • ESB Science Blast (formerly RDS Primary Science Fair) hosted and sponsored by MIC
  • STEM summer courses for children and teachers
  • Primary STEM evenings in schools
  • Interactive STEAM workshops as part of Limerick Festival of Science, Space Week, Engineers Week, Code Week, Tech Week, Maths Week and Limerick Lifelong Learning Festival

For further information on CRAFT or STEM / STEAM activities at MIC contact:

Dr Maeve Liston, Director of Enterprise & Community Engagement, MIC

E: Maeve.Liston@mic.ul.ie T: 353 61 774726

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