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Back to Press Releases 07 November 2018

ESB Science Blast to Ignite the Primary School Calendar

  • ESB has teamed up with the RDS to launch ESB Science Blast with showcases in Dublin, Limerick and Belfast in 2019
  • Entire 4th-6th classes encouraged to get involved in a non-competitive education programme investigating the science behind a simple question
  • Up to 13,000 primary school students from all over Ireland involved in this inaugural year
  • Events will take place in Dublin (March 6-7), in Limerick (May 22-24) and Belfast (June 5-6)
  • November 30 submission deadline for Dublin event

5 November 2018

ESB Science Blast, developed and delivered by the RDS, will inspire entire classrooms with the wonders of STEM. Nourishing 21st century skills such as critical thinking, problem-solving and creativity at a young age – education skills highlighted by the World Economic Forum – this event will have showcase exhibitions in Dublin (March), Limerick (May) and Belfast (June). Delivered by the RDS in each venue, ESB Science Blast will make learning STEM skills fun for both students and teachers, and will feature amazing science shows, tailor-made for 8 – 12 year olds (4th – 6th class). Every participating school will receive €75 / £75 towards their travel costs of getting to and from the showcase venues. Alongside ESB as title sponsor, this initiative is part funded by Science Foundation Ireland through the SFI Discover Programme, as well as a number of other partners. 

In this non-competitive education programme, entire classes of students, from 4th – 6th or Key Stage 2 classes, will investigate a simple question about the world around them using scientific methods of discovery. They will then display their findings at a showcase event attended by hundreds of other classes. Typical investigations include: ‘How can we make the best slime?’, ‘Why does cake go hard but biscuits go soft?’, ‘Where do waves come from?’, and ‘Can I charge my mobile device with a fruit?’

Launching the first year of ESB Science Blast, Minister for Education and Skills, Joe McHugh TD, said: “I’m delighted to launch the first ever ESB Science Blast – it is exciting to see such a huge interest among primary school children for the STEM subjects and how they apply to problems in the real world.  

ESB Science Blast has the potential to really awaken children’s curiosity, with up to 13,000 young people conducting investigations on everyday things, thinking differently about the world around them and looking at the science behind things that they may have once taken for granted.  

STEM subjects clearly have the capacity to capture the imagination of students. It is important that our education system supports students to develop their skills in science, technology, engineering and maths. Through the government’s Action Plan for Education, which aims to make the Irish education system the best in Europe within a decade, we have put a priority on STEM education. Our STEM Implementation plan contains a list of actions aimed at making Ireland a leader in STEM education and includes recognising participation in extra-curricular STEM events and activities, like ESB Science Blast as part of the STEM curriculum.” 

To participate in the Dublin event, schools must submit their class question by November 30. They will receive confirmation of their class place at the Showcase event in March by December 14. 

A second deadline of February 27 is operating for the Limerick and Belfast showcase events only. Confirmation of class places at these venues will be received by March 13. 

The RDS will manage and deliver this education programme. The RDS has been cultivating interest in science and helping to develop science skills for generations so we are really excited to be launching ESB Science Blast.” said Michael Duffy, RDS CEO. “From our previous work in science education, we know that participation at this young age can have significant benefits from an individual level right through to the entire school community. ESB Science Blast is designed to open the minds of the next generation to the amazing possibilities of STEM, through harnessing the natural curiosity found in every child.” 

Speaking about the partnership, Pat O’Doherty, ESB Chief Executive said: “ESB Science Blast will equip children with the skills they need to thrive in 21st century society, helping 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. We are proud to partner with the RDS on ESB Science Blast and are looking forward to growing the programme to involve thousands of primary school students across Ireland.” 

The event is part funded by Science Foundation Ireland under the SFI Discover Programme. Margie McCarthy, Interim Director of Science for Society at Science Foundation Ireland, said: “It is fantastic to see ESB Science Blast on the primary school calendar. Engaging students in informal learning programmes that go beyond the confines of the classroom is crucial, as it can positively influence their education and career pathways. Demonstrating the diverse and exciting directions that scientific careers can take is a priority to Science Foundation Ireland, and for that reason we are very pleased to support this initiative. Aligning with the National STEM Education Implementation Plan, it will help us to integrate creative learning into the STEM curriculum and ultimately, to achieve our goal of having the most engaged and scientifically-informed public.”  

How to apply 

Participation is child’s play. 

Firstly, think of a simple question with your 4th – 6th or Key Stage 2 class, something that they can investigate by predicting, measuring, counting or observing. Students then investigate their question, using core skills from the curriculum, before displaying their work and presenting their findings at a fun-filled event.  

There is capacity in year one of ESB Science blast for up to 13,000 primary school students to take part, making it one of the largest events of its kind. 

Teachers can use the ESB Science Blast Investigation Framework to help structure class investigations. This Framework aligns with the objectives of the primary curriculum and supports delivery of SESE (ROI) and WAU/TSPC (NI) requirements. 

For the past nine years, the RDS organised and sponsored the RDS Primary Science Fair, a science education programme for primary school classes, 4th – 6th and Key Stage 2, that ran alongside the BTYSTE and was annually over-subscribed. ESB Science Blast is a standalone event with the capacity to meet the demand for participation by primary schools all over the country.

To find out more about the event visit 


Keep in touch via Instagram, Twitter & Facebook  

For more information, please contact: 

Cyril Moloney  

Diarmuid Hanifin, RDS  

Kieran O’Neill, ESB

About The RDS  

The RDS (Royal Dublin Society) is one of the world’s oldest philanthropic organisations; it was founded in 1731 and works today to see Ireland thrive culturally and economically. 

ESB Science Blast is a key project within the RDS Science and Technology Programme and an integral way in which the RDS achieves its mission, to contribute to Ireland’s cultural and economic development. 

Approximately 6,500 primary school students participated in the 2018 RDS Primary Science Fair. The new STEM event, ESB Science Blast, has capacity in 2019 for up to 13,000 students to take part. 

Showcase events: 

  • RDS Simmonscourt, Dublin, March 6-7;
  • Mary Immaculate College, Limerick May 22-24; 
  • ICC Belfast June 5-6.


Independent evaluation of the RDS science education programme was carried out in 2016 by ‘The Research Base’, an international research consultancy specialising in education and skills. They found that 97% of participating students believe their involvement had improved their science skills, while 80% reported improvements in maths skills. This report also found high level of engagement in children’s STEM education, with almost all parents engaged; while teachers and parents alike responded that they found involvement to be highly relevant to their needs. This study also found that it has significant impact on pupil’s levels of confidence, communication skills, social skills and teamwork. Evidence also showed that participation in the programme over a number of years had a lasting impact at student, teacher and school levels. 

About ESB

ESB is Ireland’s leading energy company established in 1927. Since its foundation, ESB has brought light and energy to communities in Ireland and beyond, helping them to reach their full potential. Today, ESB is leading the transition to a low carbon energy future, powered by clean electricity. This involves investing in low carbon and renewable generation, developing a smart network capable of supporting the further electrification of society and empowering customers to take more control over their energy use.

ESB’s Generation Tomorrow programme will see the company invest €7.5m over the next five years to support the work of a number of partners including ESB Science Blast. The Generation Tomorrow programme aims to help young people develop scientific literacy and critical thinking skills through programmes that encourage curiosity and discovery, helping 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


ESB Science Blast is an education programnme developed and delivered by the RDS. It is funded by the RDS, ESB, Naughton Foundation, Science Foundation Ireland, Irish American Partnership, Limerick City and County Council, Devenish Nutrition, Citi, Dublin City Council, Irish Aid, Kainos, Northern Trust, Jones Engineering Group and supported by Mary Immaculate College, ICC Belfast, Belfast City Council, CCEA, W5, C2K, AmmA Centre and Nerve Centre.