Trinity Walton Club: What is its potential for promoting interest in STEM?

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Prendergast, Mark
Murphy, Colette
O'Neill, Arlene
Roche, Joseph
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Concerns are growing in many countries, including Ireland, regarding an inadequate number of graduates to meet workforce needs in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. These graduate deficiencies are the result of low student uptake of STEM subjects and courses at post-primary and tertiary level education. Low uptake is partly a consequence of negative student attitudes towards STEM. Many students are losing interest in STEM at an early age due to an inability to see any relevance in their everyday lives. In light of such concerns, a Saturday afternoon club entitled “Trinity Walton Club” (TWC) was established in Trinity College Dublin with the purpose of uniting like-minded students to express, shape, inform and grow their interest in STEM. This club attempted to ‘bring STEM to life’ through thought provoking content, real world problems, contextualised analogies and projects. This paper describes the background to the TWC, reviews the literature around promoting student interest in STEM and examines initial feedback from participants in the pilot year of the club. The findings of this preliminary study indicate that the TWC has the potential to promote interest in STEM. Many of the recommendations from the literature review about promoting interest in STEM were referred to by participants in their responses.
Promoting interest , STEM club , STEM retention , Secondary students , Ireland , STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) , Workforce needs , STE education
Prendergast, M., Murphy, C., O'Neill, A., and Roche, J. (2018) 'Trinity Walton Club: What is its Potential for Promoting Interest in STEM?', European Journal of STEM Education, 3 (1), pp. 1-9. doi: 10.20897/ejsteme/83659