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Integrated STEAM education is defined as the interdisciplinary teaching and learning of Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics (STEAM). The mission of the STEAM Research Centre is to promote the synergy of these areas of learning in an educational context, with the development of resources, concepts of pedagogical practice, reviews and evaluations set within a research-informed and research-driven framework. The mission is founded on the research team’s understanding of the need to enthuse and empower future generations as effective innovators, contributing to the wider society and economy through the study and application of STEAM education.


Centre Activities


Research & Impact
Below are examples of existing STEAM related projects:
• The STIMULA Project - a research project focused on developing STEM activities and innovative pedagogical strategies for the purpose of enhancing post-primary pupils' engagement with science and technology.
• The LEONARDO EFFECT Project - a research project with a proven interdisciplinary teaching approach, which combines science and art to enable children to achieve their full educational potential. The Leonardo Effect is a new form of interdisciplinary teaching centered around “synchronised integration” of subjects.
• The 'STING' Project - a project which has a focus on the role of teacher education, with the aim of fostering equity and inclusion in science education. The STEM teacher training innovation for gender balance (STING) project aims to foster quality improvements, in particular through enhanced transnational co-operation between schools, science centres, teacher education organisations and policy makers. The main objective of this project is to raise and share good science education practice for gender balance through innovative teacher education modules.

• DOES PRACTICAL EXPERIENCE ENHANCE ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT IN STEM - Dr Kieran McGeown (STEAM Research Centre), Dr Michael Ievers from Stranmillis University College Belfast and the College Principal met Peter Weir (Education Minister for Northern Ireland) in November 2016. The purpose of the meeting was to outline for the Education Minister details of the joint research project between the two university colleges, which will provide opportunity to bring together primary schools from across the spectrum to engage in programming robots and drones. The associated research focus is the impact of practical activities upon academic achievement, with additional assessment of ‘right-brain’ and ‘left-brain’ learning preferences.


From L to R: Professor Peter Finn, Dr Kieran McGeown, Peter Weir (Education Minister) and Dr Michael Ievers.

Public Engagement

Dr Kieran McGeown gave a presentation outlining the various research projects related to STEAM education within St Mary's University College at an event organised by the Royal Society of Chemistry under the theme 'Science and Stormont: Science Education in Northern Ireland'. The event was held at Parliament Buildings, Stormont, Belfast on the 13th October 2014 and was hosted by Basil McCrea (MLA) in his role as Chair of the All Party Group for Science and Technology.

Educational Activities
SMART GEAR - the Department of Education, in partnership with Sentinus and three Initial Teacher Education Institutions (ITEIs), launched a pilot programme ‘Smart Gear’ during 2011/12. This pilot involved over 1000 Key Stage 2 pupils from 53 primary schools and 60 student teachers from three ITEIs. Through engagement in exciting practical activities and extended project work the programme aimed to: excite and enthuse young pupils about STEM subjects; provide better understanding of the impact of STEM on all aspects of modern life; demonstrate the relevance and importance of STEM subjects; enhance awareness of industries that require STEM skills; and provide increased awareness of the sort of STEM careers available.
• The SMART TECHNOLOGY programme, in partnership with Sentinus and 90 local primary schools, links undergraduate teachers with primary schools to deliver a structured programme of hands on activity focusing on sensor technology and robotics. After a number of weeks’ practical activities, classes develop project work on the theme of intelligent clothing or robotics challenges. It concludes with a Celebration Day when schools are given the opportunity to display their work and participate in workshops and science shows.
Arkwright Scholarship Trust Partnership - In 2013, Arkwright launched its Engineering Scholarships in Northern Ireland for the first time in its twenty-two year history. Eleven dynamic, high-potential young Northern Irish engineers received Arkwright Engineering Scholarships at awards ceremonies held in both Glasgow and London. The schools continue to promote their success. St Mary's University College Belfast worked closely with the Arkwright Scholarships Trust and helped to make the launch of the scholarships a resounding success.
TRANSATLANTIC BROADCAST - Canadian (Windsor, Ontario)/SMUCB on-going bilateral discussions - so far a TV link has been carried out via Cogeco TV for the purposes of discussing STEAM related educational topics. This involved teachers, pupils and academics. There are possibilities of further STEAM related academic links/activities.

• DANCING ROBOTS - Dr Kieran McGeown (STEAM Research Centre) is working with Dr Michael Ievers from Stranmillis University College Belfast on an exciting and innovative STEM event for primary school pupils involving dancing robots. This event is part of a collaborative research project focusing on how practical, problem-solving activities affect academic performance in STEM. All the activities will be designed so that the pupils are learning by solving problems whilst engaging in fun challenges programming drones and robots, culminating in programming the robots to dance together.

Centre Members



From L to R: Dr Kieran McGeown (Director), Anthony Grant (Secretary), Dr Peter McPolin, Joe Hughes, Dr John Prenter, Dr Katrina Mulholland
(Missing from photograph: Gerry Trainor, Dr Catherine Quinn, John Rafferty)


Current Research Themes


Technology Education in Northern Ireland

For further information on this research theme please contact Dr Kieran McGeown (k.mcgeown@smucb.ac.uk).

STEAM Education in Schools
For further information on this research theme please contact Dr Katrina Mulholland (k.mulholland@smucb.ac.uk), Dr Kieran McGeown (k.mcgeown@smucb.ac.uk), Dr Peter McPolin (p.mcpolin@smucb.ac.uk), Gerry Trainor (g.trainor@smucb.ac.uk) or Dr John Prenter (j.prenter@smucb.ac.uk).


STING Erasmus+ Research Project
For further information on this research theme please contact Joe Hughes (j.hughes@smucb.ac.uk), Dr Catherine Quinn (c.quinn@smucb.ac.uk) or John Rafferty (j.rafferty@smucb.ac.uk).

Our ambition is to make an effective contribution to STEAM education on both a national and international basis. For any queries relating to the Centre’s activities please contact Dr Kieran McGeown (k.mcgeown@smucb.ac.uk).