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SFI award MACSI funding to run a TY Programme to allow students to explore how to model real-world problems using maths and stats


Students to explore how to model real-world problems using maths and stats in a new 12 week Transition Year programme. As part of Science Foundation Ireland’s mission to spread the STEM message, they have funded a new project under the SFI Discover programme to empower stdents and their teachers to identify and apply the maths and stats that they learn in class to  real-world problems. The Young Modellers project led by the University of Limerick will confront students with unfamiliar “real-world” problems. It will empower Transition Year students to explore the modelling needed for problems that do not automatically appear to lend themselves to mathematical analysis; examples includes locating the black box of a crashed aeroplane, forecasting the cost of cancer screening programmes or optimising the operation of a lift in a multi storey building.

The Young Modellers programme aims to engage approximately 450 students nationally, including approximately 225 female and 225 male students and 90 students from socially, economically or educationally disadvantaged groups. Historically, the lack of role models has acted as a barrier to female engagement with STEM, with this is mind there is gender balance amongst project team involved in Young Modellers across the University of Limerick, Limerick Institute of Technology and University College Cork.

Currently, approximately 3% of the students doing the Leaving Certificate study applied mathematics, 29% higher-level mathematics and 10% study higher-level physics. The Young Modellers project will allow students to “get under the hood”, exploring the basics of modelling real-world problems using concepts from applied maths, maths and physics and will encourage increased numbers to study these subjects at leaving cert.

During the 12-week programme students will develop an enhanced understanding of the links between the maths learned at school and the many applications of mathematical sciences in the real-world. The programme will support the development of collaboration, communication, and perseverance skills with students exploring multiple different ways of problem solving. Recognising that data science has become one of the most desirable and lucrative career options for mathematically-literate graduates, the Young Modellers project will offer students an insight into the mathematical principles underlying real world data problems.

Supporting teachers is a vital component of the Young Modellers project. Director of the MACSI centre at the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at UL Prof James Gleeson, Director of EPI*STEM at the National Centre of STEM Education UL Prof Merrilyn Goos,  and the lead teacher of the pilot study at Clongowes Wood College Stephen O’Hara will run a 3-day residential teacher-training workshop in Summer 2019. Teachers will also receive ongoing online and offline support when implementing the programme in schools from September to December 2019.

The Young Modellers project is currently recruiting up 15 teachers across 15 schools to participate in the programme, with the training benefit valued at €5,000 per school. Teachers from girl, mixed-gender, and DEIS Schools are strongly encouraged to apply. The application form is available here ; queries may be addressed to

Young Modellers poster available for download here 

Young Modellers is funded by Science Foundation Ireland Discover Programme grant 18/DP/5888.