Following research that found Irish parents are eager for their children to become more involved in science, technology, engineering, arts and maths (STEAM) initiatives, the ESB has announced the launch of a new programme called Generation Tomorrow.

The €7.5m programme will be spread across the next five years and will work with a number of partners, including Camara Ireland’s TechSpace, the RDS, the University of Limerick and Cool Planet Experience. This will see children and teenagers introduced to a number of different topics, particularly research and innovation in sustainable energy and climate change itself, including Cool Planet Experience’s permanent visitor centre.

One of the initiatives launched as part of the programme is ESB Science Blast, aimed at children in fourth and sixth class. It was created to encourage children’s curiosity about the world and make them better critical thinkers.

“ESB Science Blast is fundamentally about equipping children with the skills and approaches that they are going to need in order to thrive in 21st-century society,” said Karen Sheeran, science and technology manager at the RDS.

“Our goal is to ignite children’s innate curiosity and, through the process of scientific discovery, help instil skills of reason-based inquiry, critical thinking, resilience and collaboration.”

ESB’s research into this area found that less than 2pc of Irish parents believe play has a role in driving innovation and problem-solving, while more than two-thirds believe there is no serious or practical benefit to play, and that the value of play is purely for enjoyment or relaxation.

Speaking at the programme’s launch, Georgine Paltzer, initiatives manager at the Lego Foundation, said: “We believe playful experiences support children in developing the skills to serve them, their communities and society through a lifetime, and our vision is a future where learning through play empowers children to become creative, engaged, lifelong learners.”

Colm Gorey

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