The classroom based ‘Futurewize’ and ‘Smart Futures’ initiatives, which have reached 2000 students in Galway and Mayo and nearly 24,000 students nationwide, were completed by the 1st year students from Clarin College prior to the school closure. The initiatives are aimed at inspiring second level students to explore a new world of career possibilities that are opened up through the study of STEM related subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) and are run in partnership between Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) and Junior Achievement Ireland (JAI).

Designed by JAI and developed for delivery by business volunteers, the five week Futurewize programme has been facilitated by more than 350 trained volunteers from STEM-related roles. Futurewize has a 65% female participation levels as a key focus is bridging the existing gender gap in girls pursuing further education and careers in STEM related fields. Research on the ‘role model effect’ has indicated the strong influence that a positive role model, particularly for girls, can play in changing perceptions and dispelling gender-stereotypes in STEM careers.

Futurewize is aligned with the strands of the Junior Cycle science curriculum, and the physical, biological, and chemical worlds; and Earth and Space complement government policy including the aims of the Action Plan for Education 2016-2019 and the National Skills Strategy 2025. The Smart Futures initiative targets both junior and senior cycle students during a once off workshop. 500 STEM volunteers have spoken about their careers and equipped students with sources of additional information to further their interest in STEM related careers through Smart Futures, often as an accompaniment to the Futurewize programme.