The Marine Institute's Explorers Education Programme recently attended FÉILTE – a unique annual educational event organised by the Teaching Council which showcases best practice and innovative initiatives in Irish classrooms. Hosted by NUI Galway, the festival celebrates the work of teachers, giving them opportunity to share their work with each other and the wider community.
The Explores exhibit 'Exploring Our Ocean', led by primary school teacher Peter Kane from Kilglass National School in County Galway and the Explorers team from Galway Atlantaquaria, showcased class projects where primary school children have been learning about climate change using cross curricular activities involving science, technology, engineering, maths as well as art activities.
"One of the projects showcased at Féilte, was a very relevant and thought-provoking project on ocean acidification which was very successful in this year's RDS Science Blast initiative." Mr Kane explained.
"The science behind climate change and its effect on the ocean and our marine life, can often be hard for many of us to understand. However, the Explorers Education Programme helped to demystify the whole area of climate change for primary children as it focused on the importance of marine biodiversity and how the ocean has a significant influence on our planet. This is key in empowering children to research, learn and communicate more about issues relating to climate change.
While looking for solutions to mitigate against coastal flooding, sea level rises, increases in ocean temperature and ocean acidification, the children's projects, experiments and artwork demonstrated how they have developed a range of skills from ocean literacy including focusing on the fundamental scientific processes of observation, investigation, experimenting and decision making.
"Explorer marine projects help children to think outside the box in terms of adopting a more inquiry-based learning approach while moving away from their rigid text books. It is really exciting to see children actively involved in their decision making, working collaboratively on researching real-life science issues, while learning to communicate about important issues that are facing us locally, nationally and globally, " said Mr Kane.
Projects like this help them to develop an invaluable skill-set for the future as they study first-hand the many dangers our oceans will continue to face. We are hopefully developing the citizen scientists of the future. Mr Kane added.
Noelle Moran, Chairperson of the Teaching Council, who visited the Explorers exhibit congratulated Peter Kane and the Explorers team, stating "The Marine Institute's Explorers Programme highlights the importance of how outreach can be used to support the teaching profession. Collaborations like this show how actively involving children in real-life initiatives, that local marine scientists and researchers are involved in, makes STEM real for children. This support is not only a benefit to teachers, but is significantly inspiring for children in developing their skills and future careers.
Dr Paul Connolly, CEO of the Marine Institute, welcomed the efforts of the Explorers outreach team; "working with teachers and formal educators to help promote marine in the primary school curriculum can only help encourage a wider understanding of our ocean and equip students to become ocean leaders and marine champions of the future."
The Explorers Education Programme is funded by the Marine Institute and its strategic development is managed by the Camden Education Trust. Explorer outreach centres located in Donegal, Sligo, Mayo, Galway, Clare, Kerry, Cork, Waterford and Wicklow are currently taking bookings delivering a range of Explorer modules in primary school classes. For further information about the Explorers Education Programme, its outreach centres and marine content that can be used in classrooms see www.explorers.ie
Image: Explorers Education Programme showcases work teaching children about Climate Change, at FÉILTE festival. LtoR: Noelle Moran, Chairperson of the Teaching Council, Peter Kane, Kilglass National School, Noirin Burke, Director of Education Galway Atlantaquaria, and Padriac Creedan, Explorers Education officer, Galway.
Contact: Cushla Dromgool-Regan, Education Programme Manager & Communications Lead, Explorers Education Programme, The Camden Education Trust
Mobile: + 353 (0) 87 9185519
Email: cushla [dot] dromgoolregan [at] thecamdentrust [dot] org