New Perspectives in Science Education

Edition 13

Accepted Abstracts

Space Science: A Vehicle for Education and Engagement in STEM – A Review of Current Initiatives in Science Education in Ireland

Marie Walsh, Limerick Institute of Technology (Ireland)



In September 2016 a new syllabus for Junior Certificate Science was introduced to Irish secondary schools. There is one unifying strand on Nature of Science and four interlinked strands, including Earth and Space. The latter is seen as providing an ideal setting for developing generalising principles and crosscutting concepts. Students will be encouraged to develop a sense of the structure of the universe and some organising principles of astronomy. They will explore relationships between many kinds of astronomical objects and evidence for the history of the universe. They will use data to discern patterns in the motion of the Sun, Moon, and stars and develop models to explain and predict phenomena such as day and night, seasons, and lunar phases. They will also explore the role and implications of human space exploration. In other words, Space will become less abstract and more relevant for future generations of students. It will also improve literacy and competence in science, as well as engagement with STEM subjects and general awareness of the importance and relevance of space science research.

This review will also look beyond the formal curriculum to other initiatives to promote and educate about the importance of space science research. These include: engagement activities like Space Week; dialogue with other European Space Education Resource Offices (ESEROs); CanSat and other competitions for schools; formal and informal engagement within and by research groups.

Space is being promotes as a theme to inspire and engage young people in STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). Whether or not such inspiration and engagement has been or can be measured will be examined.

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