Irish Girl Guides partners with EirGrid and DCU LearnIT Lego to encourages girls to pursue STEM
EirGrid, the national electricity transmission system operator, is supporting a camp in Belturbet for girls to develop skills in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
The Girl Guides STEM Robotics Camp takes place at Castle Saunderson this week. There are 27 Irish Girl Guides from the local region working in teams to conduct research projects relating to real-world challenges.
The camp is a partnership between Dr Deidre Butler of Dublin City University, the Irish Girl Guides and LearnIT Lego that was developed in 2017.
During the week, teams will research and analyse a problem, taking into account what ‘real’ scientists and experts have found out and develop an innovative solution.
Using the LEGO Education WeDo 2.0 robotics platform and a range of LEGO materials, teams will also design, build and programme an autonomous, motorised model.
Girls will also learn about women in STEM careers and hear first-hand stories of how others have overcome challenges.
Helen Gallagher, who works in EirGrid Group’s Innovation Division, spoke at the camp yesterday. She said: “The need to address the gender imbalance in STEM disciplines and careers is well documented.”
A range of research reports and surveys have repeatedly shown that while young boys and girls are interested in STEM subjects, girls start losing interest between 13 to 15 years old. The gender gap becomes progressively more pronounced through later post-primary schooling and third level.
“There is an urgent need to find ways to increase girls’ resilience in STEM studies so that those early kernels of interest not only persist but translate into meaningful careers,” added Ms Gallagher.
Helen Concannon, Chief Commissioner of Irish Girl Guides, is delighted to be working with EirGrid and DCU Lego Education Innovation Studio on this project. “We extend our thanks to both for enabling the next generation of girls and young women to experience STEM through a practical hands-on camp,” she said.
“The theme of the camp is renewable energy and the girls are building wind turbines and completing projects to address the energy crisis. All this is useful for everyday life as well as giving the girls a taste of careers in engineering, science and technology. As an organisation, we always encourage our members to challenge stereotypes and to dream big!”