by Nicole Ryan, Projects Coordinator, Munster, Teen-Turn
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Teen-Turn provides girls from disadvantaged and underrepresented communities the opportunity to gain hands-on STEM experience and be mentored by female role models. Teen-Turn works closely with schools to identify girls who would benefit most from these opportunities.
The initiative also relies upon partner organisations to provide space, equipment and volunteers to make activities a reality. For two years, Griffith College has supported Teen-Turn by offering a variety of services that resulted in the expansion and continued success of Teen-Turn in Limerick and the Munster region.
Griffith College provides a welcoming space every Friday for the teen participants and volunteer mentors to work on after school projects which range from Technovation challenge submissions to SciFest and BTYSE science projects. Griffith College is ideally situated in both Limerick and Cork city centre locations, with access to public transport and within walking distance from the participating schools, making attending the weekly sessions easier and more accessible for the girls as well as mentors.
Griffith College caters to the needs of the participants, with multiple well equipped computer labs for use during the development and coding of apps, project research, and statistical analysis. This is vital to a STEM programme with the Teen-Turn cohort, in particular, as few own their own computers. Griffith’s classrooms also provide the girls and their mentors the space to record pitch videos, practise presentations, and learn about approaches to research methodology and business planning relevant to their projects. The combination of technology equipment, a place to work, and talented mentors all offered by Griffith College levels the playing field for Teen-Turn participants to complete projects and successfully participate in SciFest, BTYSE and Technovation journeys.
Companies and educational institutions such as Griffith College delivering pro bono and in-kind services is critical to the success, growth and sustainability of charities like Teen-turn. Over the last two years Griffith have not only provided mentors, equipment and space to the programme but also have given the participants a first-hand experience of what being a part of a third level institution involves. This is invaluable for secondary level students from disadvantaged and underrepresented communities as it allows them to see students from all backgrounds—who have completed their secondary level education and transitioned onto third level education—pursue their interests, expand their talents and work towards their future career.
The Teen-turn and Griffith College partnership is endeavouring to grow the Munster talent pipeline to include and enable women to progress into STEM related careers. It is further promoting third level education to girls from disadvantaged and underrepresented communities in the region and hopefully will continue to do so into the future.
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