NYCI TechSpace STEM in Youth Work Maker Project

Name of the good practice

NYCI TechSpace STEM in Youth Work Maker Project.

Country

Ireland

Organisation

National Youth Council of Ireland and Camara Education Ireland.

Target group of the good practice

Youth Workers

Goals

The project is strengthening the delivery of STEM education in the youth sector through training and support, resource development, creating communities of practice, celebration events dissemination of good practice, and partnership development.

It is a partnership between the National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI – lead partner) with Camara Education Ireland (delivery partner) and is delivered through TechSpace. It is funded by the Science Foundation of Ireland (SFI), ESB and Inver.

Development

NYCI began work in the area of STEM and digital media in youth work in 2012 with an international seminar that brought youth organisations together to discuss the potential of using STEM and digital media to enhance youth work and associated risks. From 2014 until 2016, NYCI led research that heard from 300 youth workers and found that:

  • there was considerable interest amongst the youth sector in including STEM and digital media in youth work;
  • many youth workers felt intimidated by STEM and digital media and didn’t feel confident enough to use it;
  • there were unmet support needs that needed to be addressed if the sector was to be enabled to use STEM and digital media productively.

During the same time-period Camara Education Ireland, through the TechSpace Programme, began a pioneering STEM project funded by ESB, an industry partner. The project delivered training and support to 20 youth workers, who learned how to facilitate Maker activities with 150 young people. The outcomes provided additional evidence of the needs for support.

In 2016, Camara Ireland and NYCI successfully bid to SFI for the STEM in Youth Work Maker project, to further address these needs on a wide, systemic-scale across Ireland.  

Activity

During an introductory training day youth workers undertake a range of STEM & Maker activities and gain the skills needed to facilitate high-quality STEM projects with young people. They learn how to solder; use Makey Makeys to turn everyday objects, such as bunches of flowers, into computer keyboards; make circuits; make scribble bots; and make speakers.

Following the introductory training, youth workers receive equipment grants. They also gain access to follow-up support, further training, resources, a community-of-practice and more, so that they can continue to develop their STEM in Youth Work practice. The young people have opportunities to showcase their creations at events, including at the amazing annual Creative Tech Fest.

Resources

As part of the support provided to youth workers, they receive easy-to-use activity equipment lists and are supported to use their grants to purchase equipment.  Youth workers can choose from a range of equipment such as batteries, circuit boards, and components, copper wires, art supplies, MaKey MaKeys, laptops, etc. They need storage space for equipment, wifi and table space for young people to work on.

Feedback

Please see questions about the benefits below.

Evaluation

Pre and post-training surveys, youth as researchers, post-facilitation surveys, observations, and interviews with youth workers and managers.

Benefits

Youth workers:

  • Really enjoy the training and support.
  • They want to continue to develop their practice in the area and to receive support for this.
  • Their perceptions around STEM and its relevance to youth work develops.
  • They feel including STEM in their practice is beneficial for young people as follows:

Young people:

  • Enjoy the hands-on activities and are proud of what they make.
  • Develop a range of 21st century skills around: team-working; creativity; critical thinking and problem-solving.
  • Are further enthused about youth work and STEM
  • Their perceptions about STEM, its role in their lives, and of scientists develop.


Additional links

http://www.youth.ie/stem