Transition year students of Presentation Secondary School in Ballyphehane Sophie Coughlan and Leah Kiely with Caroline O’Driscoll, CoFounder IWISH and Lord Mayor Cllr Colm Kelleher for the pilot of the I Wish IVCA Twinning Xchange programme, a global STEM twinning initiative between Ireland and the USA that is virtually connecting the Cork students with sophomores from Archbishop Riordan High School in San Francisco to increase awareness of STEM practices across the globe. Photo: Darragh Kane

San Fran-Ballyphehane, a twinning formula

A global science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) twinning initiative between Ireland and the USA is currently being piloted in a Cork city school.

The initiative was launched recently by I Wish, a Cork-based, multi-award-winning programme dedicated to showcasing the power of science, technology, engineering, and maths to female students internationally.

The I Wish partnership with the Irish Venture Capital Association (IVCA) will see transition year students at Presentation Secondary School in Ballyphehane connect virtually with sophomores from Archbishop Riordan High School in San Francisco, USA. The programme is set to be rolled out in further US and Irish schools in the future.

Caroline O’Driscoll, Co-Founder of I Wish explained: “This twinning of schools in Ireland and the USA will increase awareness of the various STEM opportunities and practices across the globe along with featuring international STEM speakers. By creating a network of global schools with different approaches and experiences, we are giving students on opposite sides of the Atlantic the opportunity to connect, explore and imagine.”

Lord Mayor of Cork Cllr Colm Kelleher added: “The San Francisco and Cork sister city relationship was formed back in 1984. Over the past 38 years, this partnership has evolved and we are delighted to welcome this new venture, which focuses on young people's engagement in STEM, the broadening of horizons, and relationship building between these two great cities.”

As part of the initiative, participating schools have picked one of three themes to explore: transformative technology, the world through my eyes, and protecting the planet. The programme includes joint presentations by students, with one winning project to be announced at I Wish’s showcase event on 10 February.

The programme is part of an expanded offering from I Wish, which now engages girls year-round at key touch points in their lives. Along with its free annual global STEM event next month, I Wish is running third level mentoring programmes and primary school classroom visits with young STEM professionals and students. The I Wish senior cycle supports include the twinning programme and internships, while the junior cycle provides aligned class materials.

Mayor of the City and County of San Francisco, London Breed saluted I Wish for its work in bring STEM to young women across the globe: “San Francisco is proud that our Archbishop Riordan High School will be one of the initial I Wish Xchange Programme schools twinning with the Presentation School in Cork in 2022 and we look forward to the young women of San Francisco and Cork creating innovative collaborations in the STEM fields.”