New Perspectives in Science Education

Edition 13

Accepted Abstracts

Multiple Benefits of the Cell EXPLORERS Programme – a STEM Public Engagement Model in Ireland

Muriel Grenon, National University of Ireland Galway (Ireland)

Claudia Fracchiolla, National University of Ireland Galway (Ireland)

Sarah Carroll, National University of Ireland Galway (Ireland)

Claire Concannon, Otago Museum (New Zealand)


In Ireland, education and public engagement goals have been integrated into higher education and research institutions’ mandates and are also expected from research funders. However, in many institutions there is a lack of training or structures to facilitate these goals. The Cell EXPLORERS programme ( is an educational outreach programme based in NUI Galway that engages with civil society on Science Technology Engineering Maths (STEM) topics. The Cell EXPLORERS working model aims to build STEM capacity and works with a growing volunteer base of students and researchers. This working model has the dual benefit of engaging families in local schools and communities whilst facilitating the training of tomorrow’s science communicators, educators or researchers in higher education institutions. Currently the programme is made of ten teams spread nationwide delivering hands-on science activities to young people and their families.  It contributes to addressing national shortfalls in science education by developing a collaborative school-centred outreach initiative that is embedded in the local community.  Cell EXPLORERS teams in local higher education institutions (HEI) act as informal science education providers by bringing engaging science activities and information on science careers to children at an age when they make decisions about their interest in STEM (10-13 years old) or make their choice of STEM as a career (14-16 years old). This is achieved by children impersonating scientists and through mentorship by local scientists, facilitating real-life science experiences and one-to-one interactions with science role models. The Cell EXPLORERS programme has developed a teaching and research foundation to ensure its sustainability. It has followed action research approaches in its methodology to study the most sustainable way of delivering public engagement activities. The programme is currently studying its impact on children’s perception of science and scientists, on volunteer team members’ motivation for participation, as well as institutional values, support and commitment to outreach and public engagement. In parallel, it is also developing teaching and learning solutions by embedding some of its component in HEI student curriculum. The structure and organisation of the programme, its characteristics as well as preliminary findings will be presented at this conference.

Keywords: Informal science education, Higher education institutions, Public engagement, outreach, volunteering;


[1] Department of Education and Skills. National Strategy for Higher Education to 2030 (2011) 134p. 
[4] Concannon, C. & Grenon, M. Researcher: share your passion for science Biochemical Society Transactions (2016) 44 (5) p1507-15 
[5] Archer, L. et al. ASPIRES. Young people’s science and career aspirations, age 10 – 14. ASPIRES report. (2013)
[6] The National Foundation for Educational Research.Exploring young people’s views on science education. Report to the Wellcome Trust (2011)
[7] Wellcome Trust primary horizons. Starting out in science.Primary Science Education Report. (2005)
[9] SMART FUTURE Survey –Internet (2016)


Back to the list


Reserved area

Media Partners:

Click BrownWalker Press logo for the International Academic and Industry Conference Event Calendar announcing scientific, academic and industry gatherings, online events, call for papers and journal articles
Pixel - Via Luigi Lanzi 12 - 50134 Firenze (FI) - VAT IT 05118710481
    Copyright © 2024 - All rights reserved

Privacy Policy