This blog post discusses the outreach activities I engaged in during my 2018-2020 Marie Curie Individual Fellowship (MSCA IF). The reason for doing outreach is to help spread knowledge to others and help diverse audiences–particularly kids and people outside academia–understand the value of research. The funding organization, which is the European Commission, wants to public to know it is getting its money’s worth by investing in research. So, during my recent MSCA IF at University College London in the UK, I dedicated one whole work package (WP4, out of six total WPs) to outreach.
WP4 Outreach Activities
The MSCA application promised to deliver a total of 19 outreach events under WP4, and I ultimately delivered at least 20, involving (1) outreach to kids, (2) outreach via social media, and (3) outreach to adults. Although I hit my targets, I didn’t exceed them to my normal degree. I was able to do far more outreach during my Fulbright Fellowship (2012-2013) to Ireland and my first MSCA research fellowship, also to Ireland (it was an Individual Incoming Fellowship, IIF under FP7) than I managed to accomplish during this MSCA Individual Fellowship. I’m still proud of the work but hope to do even more outreach in the future.
Outreach to kids
- served as expert advisor for Usbourn publisher on 2 STEM activities book for kids that have been published and are for sale in stores
- helped organize and lead 4 RoboSlam workshops (on computer programming and robot building)
- helped organize and lead 2 RoboSlam educational exhibition booths (on computer programming and robot building)
I helped conducted four robotics and electrical engineering workshops for kids in Ireland with colleagues from my home institution (TU Dublin). Having co-founded the RoboSlam robotics outreach team in 2013, I continued to be active in RoboSlam during my MSCA fellowship, as one of the four main coordinators of events. In 2018, I was part of a team that ran a number of robotics and electrical engineering workshops for kids in Ireland over the month of August with the Wexford library service. I assisted in running two workshops in Bunclody (17th August) and two in Enniscorthy (18th August). The workshops were attended by approximately 120 children in 8-12 years old. The children built an electronics arcade game that they brought home afterward. The intention of the workshops was to encourage an interest in electronics and programming. Feedback and pictures are available here. Technical resources used (instructions, and code) at those workshops can be found here.
I also provided advising/support for the Engineering Your Future Week summer school for Transition Year students, sponsored by Enterprise Ireland. In 2018 the week focused on Robot Building and Biomedical Engineering.
I helped operate educational booths on electrical engineering, at Dublin Maker 2018 and 2019 in Ireland, with colleagues from my home institution. A large team of volunteers (staff and students) from the school participated in Dublin Maker. The theme of the 2018 stand was “paper programming” and the 2019 theme was “arcade games through the ages”.
Outreach via social media
- contributed to 3 educational websites (www.IrelandByChance.com, www.RoboSlam.com, www.Chance Reflections.com)
- maintained and continually updated 1 LinkedIn Discussion Board moderated (for the Research in Engineering Education Network, REEN)
- maintained and continually updated 2 Facebook pages featuring grant activities (one public page and one private page)
- maintained and continually updated 1 Twitter feed of engineering education activities
I hosted and created content for an educational blog on being a “researcher on the move.” The blog has 209 followers who receive direct emails of every post. In 2018 had 3732 visitors and 13,106 views (discrete clicks indicating engagement) and, in 2019, had 4316 visitors and 9887 views. I promoted the blog posts using social media, including LinkedIn, Twitter, and two Facebook accounts.
- CHANCE, S. (2012-present). Ireland by Chance: Research Adventures in Ireland and the UK. www.IrelandByChance.com showcasing research and fellowship activities.
On the LinkedIn platform alone, my most recent 2020 blog re-post before submitting my final grant report to the European Commission garnered an additional 1520 views and 46 reactions.
I also provide content for a blog on robotics that I collaboratively manage with colleagues from my host institution. In 2018, this site had 3299 visitors and 6505 views. In 2019, it had 2437 visitors and 5642 views.
- Burke, T., CHANCE, S., Berry, D., & Duignan, F. (2012-present). RoboSlam: Robot-building for Beginners. www.Roboslam.com
Outreach to adults
- delivered 1 public presentation in Dublin on gender aspects of research (photo above)
- provided 1 data source to UNESCO for a global engineering report
- evaluated 1 sub-section for UNESCO for a global engineering report
- authored 1 encyclopedia entry on the application of PBL in engineering education (and taught on this topic at a Master Class in South Africa, as shown in the photos below)
- provided 1 interview for the UK Podcast “Engineering Matters” on ethics (aired in April 2020)
What a productive time! So proud of you.