Thursday 7 October 2020: Irish Girl Guides is shooting for the stars with its innovative new Space programme that will launch this weekend on International Day of the Girl (Sunday October 11).

Members of the public are invited to join the online launch, which promises to be an extravaganza of rockets, explosions and stars.

The half-hour event, which will include appearances from award-winning space communicator, Dr Niamh Shaw, and astrophysicist and European Space Agency scientist Dr Kate Isaak, will kick off on the Irish Girl Guides (IGG) YouTube channel at 7pm. Dr Shaw and Dr Isaak are both former Girl Guides.

Dr Shaw, who was IGG’s Honorary Ambassador 2019-2020, said that, on accepting the role, she had been keen to add a Space badge to IGG’s already wide-ranging programme of activities and challenges for girls and young women. “Being the Irish Girl Guides Ambassador was such a privilege,” she said. “I got the opportunity to meet with youth members and volunteers and find out about them as well as to chat about Space, dreaming big and all the technology and science required to explore and protect our planet Earth.

“I set myself a goal to establish a Space badge packed with space-themed activities about our planet and our place in Space. Working with Frances McCarthy at CIT Blackrock Castle Observatory (who is also an IGG Leader) and adapting the science, technology engineering & maths (STEM) activities included in the ESERO Ireland archive, we achieved just that!

“It’s a fantastic end to a terrific year with Irish Girl Guides,” she continued, “And I’m so proud that, through this collaboration of women involved in Space, we made it happen. That’s what Space Week and International Day of the Girl is all about too!”

Speaking ahead of the launch, IGG Chief Commissioner Amanda O’Sullivan, said IGG was thrilled to partner with ESERO Ireland, Science Foundation Ireland and Blackrock Castle Observatory in order to create the exciting new programme. “Irish Girl Guides is a progressive organisation that encourages girls to pursue subjects and careers that might traditionally be considered to be for boys and men,” she said. “The Space badge, which will be awarded to all girls who complete age-appropriate STEM activities on a Space theme, will complement other badges we have introduced in recent years to encourage girls to explore areas they might not otherwise have considered, including Engineering, Aviation and STEM.”

Frances McCarthy, Education and Outreach Officer at CIT Blackrock Castle Observatory and an IGG volunteer Leader in Cork, played a key role in compiling the Space programme with Dr Shaw. She said, “The Space programme includes a range of activities that are guaranteed to appeal to children of all ages. These include rocket-building, stargazing, solar system walks and looking for the International Space Station in the night sky. Older girls will also learn about Irish women working in the Space sector and will be challenged to make a model moon base out of recycled materials. We hope that, by doing these activities, girls will not only be enthused about Space but might consider a career in STEM.”  

Stephanie O’Neill, Manager of ESERO Ireland, said: “ESERO Ireland is delighted to support the Irish Girl Guides’ Space Badge through the Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) Discover Funding Programme.  SFI and ESERO promote science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) and projects like this help girls to develop scientific skills, like problem-solving, teamwork and creativity, using a range of fun space-themed activities, which have been devised for Ladybirds, Brownies and Guides.”

The space-themed activities for children and young people will be available from this weekend for anyone to download from the Irish Girl Guides website and ESERO Ireland website.

Irish Girl Guides welcomes new youth members from age 5-30 and volunteer Leaders from age 18+. No previous Guiding experience is necessary and training and ongoing support is provided. To find out more, see or tel: 01 6683898.