pictured at the launch of the official opening of the CRAFT Maker Space, Limerick’s latest dynamic and interactive public exhibition and interactive workshop space, based at Mary Immaculate College. Pic: Brian Arthur
Minister for Education, Norma Foley launches exciting and innovative new CRAFT Maker Space at MIC to promote STEAM education
Minister for Education, Norma Foley TD has praised the CRAFT Maker Space at Mary Immaculate College (MIC) for exemplifying a “deep dedication to furthering integration of the arts and creativity in education” as she launched the facility at a special event at MIC on Friday 24 March.
The first of its kind in the mid-west region of Ireland, the CRAFT Maker Space aims to inspire the public to connect with their inner designer, engineer, scientist, mathematician, inventor and artist through a wide range of energetic and thrilling STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) activities and workshops. The CRAFT Maker Space is housed in the newly renovated Newman Hall on the John Henry Newman campus at MIC.
Launching the CRAFT Maker Space, Minister Foley said: “The CRAFT Maker Space truly is a 21st-century development, brimming with imagination and ingenuity venue. Equally as important, for future generations, this state-of-the-art space will offer students from all corners of the world a place of curiosity, brimming with vision and creativity.
“What you have created here is a safe space where journeys of discovery can progress without limitations, boundaries or borders. It is a place where the voyage of exploration is as valuable as the destination eventually arrived at. It is clear that a driving force behind this bold development is a deep dedication to furthering integration of the arts and creativity in education.”
The CRAFT Maker Space aims to enable children and the public to embrace innovation, enhance creativity and critical thinking skills through a variety of accessible and inclusive outreach activities for schools and families.
President of MIC, Professor Eugene Wall, said: “We are delighted to welcome Minister for Education, Norma Foley to MIC today to launch the CRAFT Maker Space, a designated physical space for MIC’s many educational and community-focused STEAM outreach activities and the first of its kind in the mid-west region. MIC has extensive experience and expertise in the area of STEM and Arts education and has been able to use this experience to bring about authentic pedagogical interventions for early years, primary and post-primary children.
“We have long collaborated with partners in the broader educational, community and private sectors to ensure that these interventions are appropriate for children as learners and consequently make it possible to sustain the interest taken by children in STEM disciplines over the long term. The CRAFT Maker Space will now provide us with a physical space where this can happen!”
The CRAFT Maker Space will primarily create opportunities for engagement in STEAM disciplines by children at primary and post-primary education levels and their families. In addition to this remit, it will act as a base to support MIC’s involvement in major annual STEAM festivals and events, including the Tipperary Festival of Science, Mid-West Vex Robotics Programme (in association with Dell Technologies), ESB Science Blast, Limerick City Coder-Dojo, MIC Lego Innovation Studio and myriad workshops, courses and projects across the region.
According to Director of Enterprise & Community Engagement at MIC, Dr Maeve Liston: “The CRAFT Maker Space at Mary Immaculate College, is a truly inspiring and engaging space. ‘CRAFT’ stands for ‘Creative Arts / Future Technologies’, promoting a more transdisciplinary approach to teaching STEM through the arts and new technologies, not only concentrating on problem solving, critical thinking and analytical skills but also on key 21st skills i.e. creativity, innovation and design thinking.
“The CRAFT Maker Space is for everyone, all our hands-on, activity-based workshops, which are free of charge, involve children, teachers and families ‘Imagining, Designing and Creating’. The workshops are based on exploration, play, and collaborative engineering design projects placing an emphasis on the concept that we are all makers, designers, engineers, scientists, mathematicians, inventors, thinkers, artists and crafters”.
The CRAFT workshops will involve collaborative engineering design projects placing an emphasis on the concept that we are all makers. The immediate outcomes of this project will involve children engaging with STEAM subject matters such as robotics, coding, science and engineering design challenges, design thinking, construction and testing prototypes. These opportunities are rare in a classroom setting. The CRAFT space will be a welcoming, non-threatening, informal space for families from all backgrounds to engage with STEAM.
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