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Microsoft’s DreamSpace: Coming to Northern Ireland
When we opened the doors of DreamSpace in our Dublin campus in April 2018, our aim was to inspire children to unbox their ambition, spark their creativity, and supercharge their ideas so that they can create the world of tomorrow. We knew it would be successful and we hoped it would generate a huge demand, all of our hopes came to fruition. We’ve had 18,000 children through DreamSpace since we opened, but only a handful of those have been from Northern Ireland.
Now that changes. Today we’ve announced a new partnership with W5, Belfast’s science and discovery centre. Microsoft is investing £1 million to create the same DreamSpace environment in Belfast in a new Digital Learning Centre opening at W5 in Autumn 2020. From the Autumn onwards the DreamSpace digital skills experience will be available to primary and secondary level students across Northern Ireland and we aim to reach over 15,000 students from across Northern Ireland each year.
The experiences undertaken by students visiting DreamSpace are highly interactive and continuously evolving as new technology and new tools become available. Visiting students undertake experiences in emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Augmented Reality, and Virtual Reality and see how through these technologies we can bring robotics to life – encouraging the students to consider how it can be applied to help address real world issues facing society today.
Our Microsoft Education team will be working over the coming months to develop the DreamSpace with the W5 team providing each experience tailored to the age, skills level and area of interest of each visiting group. But we’re not waiting until next year to get started. We’ll be kicking off with the Hour of Code campaign in December and Girls in ICT program in April of next year. And there’ll be other programs as well that will see Microsoft and the W5 team work together to ensure that young people are equipped with the skills and ambition to thrive in an era of digital transformation.
Speaking at today’s announcement, Cathriona Hallahan, Managing Director of Microsoft Ireland, said:
“At Microsoft, we’re determined to equip the next generation with the skills and passion for technology they will need to succeed. With digital transformation bringing changes to our personal and professional worlds, it is important that our young people understand the role that technology can play in shaping their lives. That’s why today we’re announcing the expansion of DreamSpace to Northern Ireland through the development of a dedicated Digital Learning Centre in the heart of Belfast. I’m confident that working in partnership with W5, young people across Northern Ireland will be provided with the tools and skills to shape, change, protect and improve our world and our society for generations to come.”
Robert Fitzpatrick, CEO of the Odyssey Trust said:
“The Trust and Microsoft share the joint aim to inspire young people to consider careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths. This partnership will provide young people and lifelong learners with new opportunities to explore the relevance of digital innovation and its application to their everyday lives. With the expanding array of future careers that require creative problem solving and more practical applications of knowledge, we are delighted to welcome DreamSpace to advance education for the people of Northern Ireland.”
On a personal note, it’s been a huge pleasure to have been involved with this initiative from the beginning, expanding the DreamSpace presence beyond Dublin, and working so closely with the Belfast W5 team: the shared commitment across both our organisations to develop children’s skills in STEM and curiosity in technology has motivated us every day.
Registration for the Microsoft DreamSpace at W5 will be available at www.w5online.co.uk in 2020 with visits set to be available free for all students from Autumn 2020.
National Technology Officer