Curious children ask more than 70 questions each day, with ‘Why is the Sky Blue’ one of their top 10 queries. The curious child of today could be tomorrow’s problem solver, and so we all have a part to play in encouraging them to explore and question the world around them. And especially the world of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths).
For organisations to thrive and survive in this new and exciting world of automation, they need the generation of tomorrow to be equipped with the creativity, problem solving and critical thinking skills required to embrace the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.
To empower young people to reach their potential and power their collective brighter future, ESB launched a dedicated STEAM programme entitled Generation Tomorrow last year. Committing more than €7.5m to the programme, the company is working with a number of partners including the RDS (organisers of ESB Science Blast), Camara Education Ireland (managers of the TechSpace Programme and ESB Creative Tech Fest), Cool Planet Experience, and University of Limerick & MaREI.
Science behind a simple question
ESB Science Blast, delivered by the RDS, is all about encouraging primary school children to investigate the science behind a simple question that interests them. Where do waves come from? In what soil does grass grow? How does a wind turbine work?
Any question that they can investigate by predicting, measuring, counting or observing is welcome. Science is everywhere and in everything, so participants and teachers cover a huge amount of the curriculum through participation, from art to numeracy to language skills.
Tailor made for students aged between seven and 12, this whole class led, non-competitive programme encourages children to work together, and to research and explore the question to the best of their ability. It is not about finding a right answer, it is about the process involved in investigating their question. All schools are then asked to bring their research to life by showcasing their findings away from the classroom amongst hundreds of their peers at one of the showcase events held in Dublin, Limerick and Belfast.
During the showcase events, judges from the STEM industry and education provide positive critical feedback to encourage the students to continue their work back in the classroom. The programme is open to 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th classes, as well as Key Stage 2 classes in Northern Ireland , with more than 10,000 students expected to participate this year.
Success in the Science
Such events have proven to be beneficial to a child’s development, as demonstrated by an evaluation of the RDS science education programme (including RDS Primary Science Fair, the precursor to ESB Science Blast). They found that 97% of participating students believe their involvement had improved their science skills, while 80% reported improvements in maths skills.
For teachers to support and structure the class investigations, there is an ESB Science Blast Investigation Framework. Every participating school will also receive £75/€75 towards their travel costs. This Framework aligns with the objectives of the primary curriculum and supports delivery of World Around Us requirements.