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Our Programmes and How We Work With External Experts

Updated: Dec 10, 2023



We have been busy this summer developing a range of new Transition Year programmes for Muinín Catalyst Sustainable STEAM. We are excited to announce that we now have nine programmes available on our new platform. On this website, educators can sign up using their school emails to access our resources.



Our nine available programmes are:


  • Seeding Sustainability: A food sovereignty programme that supports understanding local food systems, growing, foraging, environmental factors and issues, project management and execution.

  • Dream Designs: Project-based learning in sustainable community development and project management and execution through repurposing derelict buildings.

  • Future of Enterprise and Innovation: These units look at the changing face of work and how we can develop careers based on values, interests and passions.

  • Future of Food – Biosphere as Home: These units look at past and present trends in food production, distribution and waste in order to ideate potential solutions at a local level.

  • Future of the Ocean: Understanding the importance of the ocean and best practice for ocean health including full design-led project resources.

  • Future of Fashion: These units look at sustainable fashion, slow fashion design, low tech and digital design, and case studies culminating in a learner-led project.

  • Climate Change Engage: Introduces learners to serious game design within the context of climate adaptation using creative problem-solving and cognitive, strategic and practical processes.

  • Marine Plastic Waste: Systems thinking approach to develop a minimum viable product, service or process to address marine plastic waste.


Coming soon!


  • Future of Space (available in 2024): These units introduce learners to space science, technology, physics and indigenous perspectives through project-based learning.



Our full programmes are composed of several micro-modules, many of which can also be delivered as Transition Year units, which is 45 hours (as defined by the NCCA). Each programme is divided into three sections, which lead the learner through a structured progression route. The Research and Development phase is a knowledge-acquisition phase, which enables learners to actively discover content-based concepts which underpin the programme. The Experimentation and Exploration phase then encourages learners to practise using knowledge through engaging with case studies and contemporary problems while beginning to develop solutions and ideas for future-focused projects. The final phase, Implementation, is focused on self-directed project-based learning to engage learners in an end-of-programme project where they apply the content and skills developed throughout the programme. The Implementation phase also includes a media communications micro-module for each programme which takes learners through the process of developing different dissemination mediums such as posters, Pecha Kucha presentations, podcasts and videos. By dividing each programme into sections and micro-modules, educators are afforded the flexibility to customise our programmes to their timetable and to deliver the whole programme while working in a cross-curricular team, or to choose only one or two micro-modules to deliver.


We also offer supporting skills stand-alone lessons: The supporting skills lesson plans and learner worksheets augment aspects of the other modules with basic skills such as gathering and analysing information, learning to read a 'system' and develop confidence and competence to apply knowledge in new contexts. These skills with the other modules and resources support the development of a growth mindset, core to challenge-led solution-focused activities that can lead to innovation and enterprise.


Our comprehensive resources align with the Sustainable Development Goals and the Earth Charter. Our resources nurture circular design thinking skills, 21c proficiencies, and embrace Universal Design for Learning (UDL). Our approach extends to fostering social-emotional intelligence, digital literacy, and eco-literacy, ensuring that students are equipped with the skills they need to thrive in a rapidly evolving landscape.


Our External Experts





Based on our previous research (McKeown et. al, 2022), learners reported they are worried about their future as they don’t think they have one. They felt that adults are not engaged enough in solving the climate crisis and that they do not seem to have solutions. Further, learners pointed to the lack of information around the environment and the climate crisis as an important area to fill. Our resources were designed to foster learner-led, solution-focused learning environments which focus on place-based STEAM and sustainability aligned with the UN SDGs and UNESCO Earth Charter.


To further our commitment to creating high-quality resources, in 2022 and 2023, we have engaged with experts in different areas such as food systems, fashion and social-emotional learning to develop our programmes. Bringing in leading academics and industry experts allows our programmes to contain cutting-edge ideas and authentic, up-to-date content from the field. Working with a range of external experts on each programme brings a diverse range of knowledge and expertise from both academia and industry sectors. Learners are able to engage with real-life projects and problems while being exposed to content as designed by field experts.


There are a number of benefits to working with externals experts:


Specialised Knowledge and Skills: External experts bring specialised knowledge and skills which are content specific. This enhances the quality of education and provides learners with insights and experiences they might not otherwise have.

New Perspectives: External experts bring new perspectives and innovative ideas. They bring state of the art ideas and approaches to problem-solving that invigorate the learning experience.

State of the art: Education is a rapidly evolving field. External experts can help schools stay current with the latest research, technologies, and best practices.

Enriched Curriculum: External experts contribute to the development of enriched curriculum materials and resources beyond the curriculum. This is especially important in Transition Year where there is no set curriculum.

Quality Assurance: Their content is verified which gives teachers confidence and improves the quality of education offered.

Real-World Application: Experts from various fields can provide real-world application of academic concepts. This helps learners understand the practical relevance and encourages critical thinking.

Career pathways: Exposure to external experts and the ideas that the bring also gives learners insights professional development opportunities

Diverse Perspectives: External experts come from different backgrounds, cultures, and experiences and can bring diverse perspectives to the classroom which in turn fosters inclusivity and promotes a more well-rounded education.

Motivation and Inspiration: Interaction with external experts can inspire learners. Using materials made by successful individuals in various fields can motivate them to pursue their own passions and ambitions or introduce them to things that they never knew existed

Networking Opportunities: Working with external experts helps us, educators and the experts themselves to expand networks and connections within academia, industry, and the community. This can open doors to internships, mentorships, and career opportunities for learners.


Our experts first engage in a number of meetings with our team where an initial proposal for their contribution is developed in collaboration. Our team is able to advise on how to scale concepts and information to be accessible for young people. Our experts are able to advise and develop content which is up-to-date, cutting-edge and future-focused. The initial proposal outlines the individual lessons and a summary of each lesson for each micro-module they develop.


With this, our external experts then develop their lessons after an induction where we are there to support them to ensure accessibility, UDL, place-based pedagogy, and learner-led lessons. Our team then provides rounds of feedback and meetings with the external experts to ensure the lessons are active and learner-led, digestible for the age group, and pedagogically focused. Our external experts then apply this feedback into further versions of the lessons. This process continues until the final version of the lessons are agreed upon.

The vast majority of our external experts have never worked with the Transition Year age group. At the completion of the process, many of our external experts have said they are interested in teaching this age group, and would like to be further involved in the project to deliver content. Many have also reflected on their own teaching practice, in the case of University lecturers, and have expressed wanting to integrate more learner-led and active learning within their classrooms. This is a reflection of previous research (McKeown, et. al., 2023) where external experts felt that learning in the classroom was different to their usual context of higher education, which spurred reflection on their own teaching practice and deepened their understanding of pedagogy and STEAM education.


From start to finish, care has been taken to ensure that the content in our resources are cutting-edge and future-focused while also ensuring that our lessons are learner-led and accessible. It has been an enjoyable experience working with our external experts as we also have the opportunity to learn about different fields and projects. Their knowledge is integral to the success of our programmes, and so we are delighted and thankful to be working with so many experts around the world!


The Future is Now.

It is time to prepare today's students for today’s world.


Please get in contact at rebecca.white@ucd.ie if you are interested in using our resources with your learners.


Muinín Catalyst Sustainable STEAM uses a transdisciplinary, STEAM-based pedagogical approach. Returning to SDG 4, Target 4.7, one of the core missions of the Muinín Catalyst Sustainable STEAM programme is to ensure an arts / design and culture-led approach to learning that is transdisciplinary and transformative. Learning that supports the development of informed citizens, that are systemic, critical and creative thinkers who can apply their knowledge in agile ways that are sensitive, generative and appropriately responsive to context, in relevant and meaningful ways.

This is done through placed-based learning, which enables individuals to experience learning in local, real-life scenarios. Place-based approaches to learning grounded in local communities and contexts are relevant, engaging and inquiry-based. Students gain confidence and competence in affecting change, learning to manage risk, and develop creative, real-world solutions that are eco-socially just and restorative.


References


McKeown, A., Lennon, M., White, R., Garska, J., Istrate, A., Russell, P., and Hochstrasser, T. (2023). Serious Games for Empowering Teenagers: A STEAM Approach to Climate Change Reflection and Communication. In: Leal Filho, W., Sima, M., Lange Salvia, A., Kovaleva, M., Manolas, E. (eds) University Initiatives on Climate Change Education and Research. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-25960-9_51-1


Mckeown, A., Hunt, L., Murphy, J., Turner, E., and White, R. (2022). Co-designing for resilience in rural development through peer-to-peer learning networks and STEAM place-based learning interventions. Environmental Protection Agency Research 409. Available at https://www.epa.ie/publications/research/socio-economics/research-409-co-designing-for-resilience-in-rural-development-through-peer-to-peer-learning-networks-and-steam-place-based-learning-interventions.php


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