Participants in SFI Discover WEAVE project
L-R (back): Jennifer McGarry, Eoin Stakelum
L-R (front): Róisín Hickey, Sarah Scully, Renee Moran, Deirdre Butler, Kate Calvey, Michelle Brady,
Róisín Lineen, Niall Larkin
Pic: Kyran O'Brien/DCU

 SFI Discover WEAVE set for substantial growth among participating schools 

The number of primary school students taking part in the SFI Discover WEAVE project will substantially increase to five times its original number by the end of its second year.

More than 1,000 primary school students are expected to have participated in SFI Discover WEAVE by the end of this academic year - up from 186 last year.

The SFI Discover WEAVE project is an exciting collaboration between DCU, SETU Carlow, Arizona State University and the Irish Professional Development Service for Teachers (PDST). It is a two-year project which aims to develop a cross-curricular, culturally responsive computational thinking framework, as well as a supporting suite of resources for primary schools across Ireland. 

In order to achieve these aims, SFI Discover WEAVE is developing the framework with five different schools. In terms of developing the resources, the project is working closely with teachers and students, taking into account the different backgrounds and factors that make up their individual school community. 

The second year of SFI Discover WEAVE is now underway following its official launch in the Lego Studio in DCU’s St Patrick’s Campus in September.

Working on the WEAVE Project in year 2, are several primary schools from year 1; Mary, Help of Christians, Ashtown, Dublin, St Catherine’s Senior School, Cabra West, Dublin and Scoil Mhuire gan Smál, Carlow Town. The WEAVE Project also welcomes onboard two new schools who will be joining the team for the second year; Our Lady of Victories BNS, Glasnevin and Askea GNS, Carlow. Currently, there are five schools onboard which will expand to eight schools at the midpoint of year 2.

The work done on the SFI Discover WEAVE Project is guided by the supportive academic group of  Monica Ward, Deirdre Butler, (both DCU), Yvonne Kavanagh (SETU Carlow) and Kimberly Scott (Arizona State University). 

They will work with the participating schools to co-develop the required resources to ensure the success of the SFI Discover WEAVE Project. 

Initially, there were eight teachers and 186 students in all-girl primary schools across the  participating schools in year 1. However, over the course of the 2 year project, the numbers of teachers will grow to 16 and subsequently 32 teachers, with student numbers increasing to approximately 1080 students by the end of Year Two.

Although the co-development of the SFI Discover WEAVE Project began working with all girl schools, the project will expand to include all boys and mixed gender schools in Carlow and Dublin as it is designed to be gender neutral. 

The experience of the PDST is also key to the success of the SFI Discover WEAVE Project. Leveraging the support and knowledge base of the PDST right from the beginning of this project is crucial in responding to and supporting the localised needs of the participating schools. Furthermore, their participation in the co-creation process is central to expanding the culturally responsive computational thinking framework nationally, in a sustainable and scalable manner.

During the launch event in DCU on the 14 Sept, the participating teachers and principals learned more about how their work on the SFI Discover WEAVE Project to co-develop a culturally responsive computational thinking framework ties in with wider policy developments. 

They explored how the SFI Discover SFI Discover WEAVE Project supports schools to effectively realise their chosen outcomes from the Digital Learning Framework through supporting them in reflecting on their current understanding of computational materials and guiding their use of them in practice. 

The participating teachers and principals also had the opportunity to build some of the Lego robotic models, exploring how they could effectively use these materials to support identified learning outcomes within a contextualised environment. 

It is hoped that the work done on the SFI Discover WEAVE Project will support and prepare school communities to implement future curricular changes with regards to the use of computational thinking and technologies in a contextualised and sustainable manner, while at the same time raising awareness of and interest in computational thinking in a culturally responsive manner in primary school students.