AMBER’s ‘EngAGE with Science’ Project Inspires Students of All Ages to Connect with Science

Posted on: 22 December 2015

AMBER, the Science Foundation Ireland funded materials science centre based at Trinity College Dublin and Trinity EngAGE, the Centre for Research in Ageing, working in collaboration with St Andrew’s Resource Centre, Dublin last week concluded their 8-week “EngAGE with Science” intergenerational community learning programme. “EngAGE with Science” brought primary school students, teachers, researchers and older people together to consider and debate developments in science. 

This novel project utilised AMBER’s successful NanoWow curriculum as a model to demonstrate how any research institute can translate their unique research in order to build strategic partnerships, strengthen local communities, inspire students of all ages, and ensure that Ireland has the most scientifically-informed public.

Mairéad Cullen from St Andrew’s Resource Centre and Ines Goncalves Ferreira (age 10), 5th class, St Brigid’s School, Haddington Road

Mary Colclough, AMBER Communications, Outreach and Public Affairs Manager, said: “This unique project provided genuine dialogue amongst generations, introducing science into the older community, facilitated through primary school children.

AMBER, together with its partners, really wanted to facilitate intergenerational mentoring to advance learning at all ages. We believe the programme encouraged intergenerational engagement in science and the programme exposed participants to science in a relaxed, non-threatening manner, allowing them to engage in a dialogue that will enhance their own learning.”

Sarah Bowman, Director of Public Engagement, Trinity EngAGE Centre for Research on Ageing, said “We are delighted to have collaborated with AMBER on this project. We recognise that intergenerational contact is integral to healthy ageing, discovery, and community-building. The programme transferred scientific knowledge across generations and to a wider sector of society. Above all the programme reduced fear and uncertainty between social groups by focusing on learning together and empowered students of all ages to consider the contributions they might make to scientific research.”

“EngAGE with Science” is an 8-week programme in which a 5th class primary group from St Brigid’s Primary School, Ballsbridge, Dublin, and their teacher, used the AMBER NanoWow curriculum, which introduced nano and materials science. Nanoscience is the study of materials on the nanoscale or 100,000 times smaller than a single human hair. It is leading the revolution of materials and manufacturing, with applications across a range of industries including energy; medical devices; pharmaceuticals; technology and bioengineering.

“EngAGE with Science” built excitement and interest amongst school children because at the end of their classroom activities, they presented their work outside their school to their community, relatives, friends and researchers.

Students completed the lesson plans, developed journals, and then transitioned into "students as teachers" to present and explain the lessons to older people from St Andrew’s Resource Centre on Pearse Street who served as community ambassadors, visiting the primary school to engage with the students and contribute to their final poster development.

Three half-day field trips to Trinity College Dublin allowed students, teachers and older people to engage with researchers, learn about world-class technologies through hands-on activities, and enjoy informal lunch discussions. Two additional visits during the 8 weeks took place where the class visited St Andrew's Resource Centre and older participants visited the local school. A final poster exhibition took place this week in Trinity College Dublin, with certificates of completion presented to all the participants.

“EngAGE with Science” is funded through the Science Foundation Ireland Discover programme.