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Back to Press Releases 17 October 2018

ESB invests €7.5m in a Brighter Future

  • ESB launches Generation Tomorrow programme; initiatives to support STEAM learning and innovation 

Wednesday 18 October, City Hall, Dublin:  ESB launches Generation Tomorrow, a new STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths) programme dedicated to empowering young people to reach their potential and power their collective brighter future. The programme was announced this morning by ESB Chief Executive Pat O’ Doherty at an event in Dublin’s City Hall, featuring a panel of acclaimed thought leaders on the subject from around the world. 

ESB’s Generation Tomorrow programme will see the company invest  €7.5 over the next five years, to support the work of a number of partners including TechSpace (part of Camara Ireland), RDS (organisers of ESB Science Blast, a science programme for primary school pupils), UL, in a partnership supporting research and innovation in sustainable energy, and  Cool Planet Experience, the world’s first permanent visitor centre dedicated to climate change.

In research commissioned by ESB, 67.2% of Irish parents believe that STEAM-inspired education is important or essential, while informal initiatives like ESB Science Blast and TechSpace which emphasize inquiry-based learning, skills development and curiosity-inspired projects are recognised internationally as having a substantial impact in supporting positive learning outcomes for young people. 

Speaking at the launch Pat O’Doherty  highlighted the importance of STEAM in the context of climate change: “ESB is committed to leading the transition to a low carbon future, powered by clean electricity. By helping young people to develop scientific literacy and critical thinking skills through programmes that encourage curiosity and discovery, we can help them not only to become creative and innovative problem solvers, but also active and engaged citizens, capable of making informed choices to tackle climate change and other global challenges

Arana Shapiro, Co-Executive Director, The Institute of Play in New York welcomed  the launch of Generation Tomorrow;  “Our work is based on the understanding that play is critical to learning, and that young people need to be given the opportunities to take risks and fail, as that is the basis for real innovation. It is also great to see ESB, as an engineering company, focus on supporting STEAM programmes, as we strongly believe in the power of design to empower problem solving.”

Other speakers at today’s event, included experts Georgine Paltzer, The LEGO Foundation and Dr. Shane Bergin of the School of Education in UCD. They discussed the importance of play in building STEAM skills and driving innovation from ESB’s research.   

Georgine Paltzer, Initiatives Manager at The LEGO Foundation spoke about the need for creative play and engaged learning for children to develop crucial 21st century skills of resilience, creativity, and problem solving. “We believe playful experiences support children in developing the skills to serve them, their communities and society through a lifetime and our vision is a future where learning through play empowers children to become creative, engaged, lifelong learners. This ambition is more critical than ever, with our children facing rapid change, global challenges and a highly interconnected world, all of which affect their future prospects.”

ESB Research:
Research conducted by ESB found that there is still misconceptions on the value of play and its important role in STEAM learning. The research revealed that less than 2% of Irish parents believe that play has a role in driving innovation and problem solving, despite the growing evidence base in neuroscience demonstrating the importance of playful learning in developing enhanced memory, attention, decision making, creativity, and motivation. 

It also found that over two thirds of people believe there is no serious or practical benefit to play, and that the value of play is purely for enjoyment or relaxation. Interestingly, once people were made aware of the benefits of play in driving positive learning outcomes, over 75% were supportive of bringing play into the classroom, demonstrating the importance of communicating the value of play in in both formal and informal learning settings.

ESB Generation Tomorrow - Supported Initiatives:
ESB Science Blast, a programme aimed at 4th – 6th Class and K2 Stage (NI),  aims to ignite children’s innate curiosity about the world around them, encouraging them to think about their future and the world we inhabit and to develop the facility to be critical thinkers.

Karen Sheeran, Science and Technology Manager at the RDS spoke about her ambition for ESB Science Blast, “ESB Science Blast is fundamentally about equipping children with the skills and approaches that they are going to need in order to thrive in 21st century society. Our goal is to ignite children’s innate curiosity and, through the process of scientific discovery, help instill skills of reason-based inquiry, critical thinking, resilience and collaboration. The RDS is looking forward to working with ESB to grow our reach and involve thousands of primary school students across Ireland”

TechSpace is a consortium of youth organisations, schools and partners which is managed by Social Enterprise Camara Education Ireland. Speaking at this morning’s event Marianne Checkley, CEO Camara Ireland,  explained their mission, "We strive to support Teachers, Volunteers and Youth Workers to give young people access to a space where they can create, invent and inspire through Technology and Digital Creativity."

For more information on ESB’s Generation Tomorrow initiatives visit Twitter: @ESBGroup Instagram: theesbgroup #GenerationTomorrow #ESBBrighterFuture


Editors' Notes:

ESB Generation Tomorrow:
ESB Generation Tomorrow supported initiatives include:

The mission of Science Blast is to ignite children’s innate curiosity about the world around them – encouraging them to think about their future and the world we inhabit and to develop the facility to be critical thinkers.
TechSpace is a national movement that aims to change the lives of young people in Ireland by becoming Ireland’s leading creative technology network for outcome-focused youth development

Cool Planet Experience connects science, engineering, gaming, and drama to present the true story of climate change through an immersive and interactive journey. Cool Planet Experience is also part of the network of Science Foundation Ireland Discover Centres.  

ESB Research:
ESB research on the importance of play in learning was carried out with a national representation of 1,000 parents. Fieldwork was carried out in September 2018. Insights included:

• The top three qualities most important for problem solvers of the future are #1 Innovative and Creative, #2 Flexible and open to new ideas, #3 Intelligent and strong
• More people are aware of STEM than STEAM
• On reading a definition of STEAM 67.2% rate it as Very Important or Essential