Ministers Harris and Foley announce funding for ADAPT projects to inspire public engagement with STEM

08 March 2023

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris TD and Minister for Education Norma Foley TD have announced an investment of more than €6 million in 40 projects to empower diversity and inclusion in STEM. Of those projects funded the ADAPT Centre is leading on three and is a partner on a fourth. The total award value to ADAPT is €329,000.  

SFI Discover Programme awardees will be encouraged to use the funding to build connections with less-represented voices, or with those who would not typically engage with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). 

The ADAPT projects are:

  • Irish Sign Language STEM Glossary Project: There are approximately 5,000 people in Ireland who use Irish Sign Language (ISL) as their first language. This project aims to promote and support STEM education for Deaf and Hard of Hearing people, empowering them to be fully engaged and scientifically informed.
    Project Lead: Dr Elizabeth Matthews, ADAPT, Dublin City University
  • Technology in My Life II: Technology in My Life (TimL) II aims to provide primary school students and teachers with greater knowledge of and appreciation for the technology that they use every day. This includes how to use technology in an ethical manner in the school, the children’s home, and society in general. Following the first phase of this project (TimL I), TimL II will roll out to schools nationwide. The project will be coordinated by ADAPT with leadership from Dr P.J. Wall, Lecturer in SETU Carlow and Adjunct Assistant Professor in the School of Religion, Trinity College Dublin.
  • Who Wants to Write an Email: Arts, AI and Self-Expression: This theatrical interactive game show about the ethics of opaque AI predictive text applications. It will engage contestants and audience members in discussing and debating AI’s effects on their identities and shaping of their everyday communications. This novel art-science experience will apply humour to a familiar game show format to draw in audiences who don’t typically seek out STEM topics.
    Project Lead: Dr Jennifer Edmond, Trinity College Dublin


ADAPT will also contribute to BETA – A Festival of Critical Inquiry in Art and Technology that will be coordinated by The Digital Hub. ADAPT is a research partner on the festival and Dr Paul O’Neill of ADAPT, University College Dublin is Curatorial Research Lead. 

Speaking at the launch, Minister Harris said: “The SFI Discover Programme aims to stimulate an open and inclusive conversation on STEM, empowering participation and growing talent, with the aim of ensuring everyone can bring forward ideas and solutions for our society.  

“The significant funding announced today will encourage the 40 awardees to bring the incredible world of STEM to those who may not otherwise have considered the endless opportunities available that are out there. 

 “I look forward to seeing the results and achievements of these projects, and I have no doubt they will help inspire many people to pursue careers and studies in STEM.” 

The SFI Discover Programme targets projects that empower and inspire deep public engagement with STEM, creating new initiatives with people and not for them.  

Minister Foley said: “The Department of Education is pleased to collaborate with the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science once again this year by supporting projects that will receive funding through the SFI Discover Programme intended to enhance, nurture and support STEM education.

“STEM subjects ignite curiosity and it is wonderful to see so many of our young learners and students engaging with STEM and I hope that this will instill an interest in further study in this area. I wish all the participants every success in their work as they commence their projects.”

ADAPT is a national leader in the development and delivery of novel STEM Education and Public Engagement interventions. These awards will help extend the reach and impact of the ADAPT Education and Public Engagement programme, which engaged more than 65,000 members of the Irish public over the last two years. 

Professor  Philip Nolan, Director General, Science Foundation Ireland, said: “The SFI Discover Programme is a key part of our education and public engagement strategy.  

“The Programme encourages collaboration to support public engagement with STEM, with a specific emphasis on broadening participation geographically and amongst less represented voices in STEM.  

“It is essential that we support and encourage diversity and equality at all levels, providing the talent in our society an opportunity to fully participate in shaping our collective future. SFI is keen to push the boundaries of participation and engagement with STEM research. I look forward to seeing what these projects achieve over the coming months.”