Funder: Science Foundation Ireland (SFI)

Duration: 01/01/2021 to 31/9/23 (33 Months)

Lead on Project: The Rediscovery Centre

Partners and Collaborators: 

Status: Closed


The STEM and Sustainability project was a national programme for education and public engagement to deliver a suite of education programmes, workshops and events on sustainability and STEM topics throughout Ireland.

The workshops and programmes were promoted to schools and communities all over Ireland, particularly focusing on DEIS schools in communities that are historically less engaged with STEM. All of the programmes, workshops and events were designed to be interactive and engaging and were delivered in a cross-curricular context, and linked to national school curricula in subjects including science, geography, maths and CSPE.

Schools in all counties could book free workshops funded by the SFI Discover funding. The schools had the option of face-to-face workshops on their premises, onsite workshops at the Rediscovery Centre’s educational facilities or live virtual interactive workshops, depending on their needs.


Our society faces enormous sustainability challenges in the 21st century: how to deal with climate change and develop new sources of energy; waste and resource misuse, biodiversity loss and a host of other complex issues that are creating negative impacts locally and globally. To address these issues successfully, we must raise levels of public awareness and understanding of sustainability and solutions to those challenges. Therefore, we need to encourage, promote and deliver sustainability-linked science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) education in our schools and to the public. Education and engagement in STEM for sustainability can highlight the substantial opportunities and challenges impacting the quality of our future.

The Rediscovery Centre (RDC) has been actively involved in STEM education and public engagement since 2005. The RDC has a dedicated education team developing and delivering experiential environmental and STEM education workshops to schools, universities, community groups and businesses. Our clients include primary schools, secondary schools, special needs schools and groups, colleges, universities, libraries and local authorities, as well as corporate organisations and other NGOs.


The aim of the project was to educate students, teachers and members of the public on the science of sustainability, examining and communicating ways STEM provides solutions to societal challenges and building capacity to support a more sustainable future. The project programmes, workshops and events engaged people in societal challenges related to sustainability, linking with the learning objectives through a range of subjects in a cross-curricular approach.

The STEM and Sustainability project was delivered through a number of approaches:

  • Education workshops for primary and secondary schools, special needs students, particularly focussing on DEIS schools in communities that are historically less engaged with STEM.
  • Multi-session education programmes aimed at primary and secondary school students. Students explored the topic in depth, while examining impacts of lifestyle choices, and local and global issues, through group discussion, structured discussion, hands-on activities, collaborative learning and group projects.
  • Teacher CPD workshops for both primary and secondary teachers on STEM and Sustainability topics.
  • Public engagement through innovative engagement activities at a range of events and festivals around Ireland.

The project built on the concepts of Development Education (DE) and STEM education which has a focus on building critical thinking skills, awareness and action for positive change and is a participatory, creative and transformative learning process. It aimed to equip participants with the relevant knowledge, skills and attitudes to empower them to become informed and take action for a more sustainable future.


The STEM and Sustainability project achieved the following outcomes:

  • Improved perception and understanding of STEM, particularly as it relates to sustainability issues
  • Increased knowledge and awareness of local and global sustainability issues
  • More confidence in using STEM skills and critical thinking skills
  • Increased interest in science and how STEM can be used to tackle social and environmental challenges
  • Increased interest in the possibility of choosing STEM as a career path
  • Increased interest in focusing on practical STEM-related solutions to effect positive change and solutions for issues in their school, community or even globally

Taking part in the project provided participants with not only the knowledge and awareness of issues related to sustainability, climate change and biodiversity, but also with practical skills and critical thinking skills to make choices in favour of more sustainable life style, use STEM skills and influence other people choices by setting an example.

This project provided participants with the skills and awareness necessary to undertake environmentally sound group projects focusing on practical solutions to issues in their school or community, or wider issues. These solutions were implemented according to good environmental practice and lead to positive impacts (both direct and indirect) on climate and biodiversity.

Awareness breeds interest, practical skills foster empowerment and critical thinking informs considered choice. By engaging with our project, participants became better informed about these vital issues and also gained a far greater understanding of what it is they can do as individuals and as part of the local and wider community to effect positive change.

If you’d like to learn more about the project, please contact Sarah at education@rediscoverycentre.ie.