The Marine Institute's primary school Explorer's Education Programme continues to make its mark around the coastal counties of Ireland, already reaching over 6,000 students this year. The programme promotes the importance and value of the ocean, through STEM subjects, science, technology, engineering and maths, as well as art and literature on the primary curriculum. The Explorers Education Programme is currently delivered in Sligo, Donegal, Mayo, Galway, Clare, Kerry, Cork, Waterford, Dublin and Wicklow.
Dr Peter Heffernan, CEO of the Marine Institute congratulated the Explorers centres on their success in rolling out the Explorers Education Programme around the coastal counties of Ireland. "Their continued enthusiasm for our oceans provides an important platform for teaching marine themes in the classroom and helps to support and reconnect teachers and their students with the marine environment. This opportunity helps widen the teachers and student's interest and knowledge about the ocean and makes it very real for them".
"One of the strengths of the Explorers programme is that marine topics can be easily included in the existing subjects and strands, without teachers feeling they have to learn a whole new subject. Teacher's can create a work plan that can run for a week or over a month introducing marine themes on the existing curriculum," explained Cushla Dromgool-Regan, Marine Institute.
The success of the Explorers has not only seen an increase in the number of classes in schools participating in the programme, a recent evaluation of students also showed an increase in their knowledge and engagement about the ocean.
Through interactive learning the teachers have a choice of Explorer modules to choose from, which all aim to engage the students in discovering new things about the ocean. In particular, the programme shows how the ocean influences their lives and how they have an influence on the health and sustainability of the ocean. As an island nation, forty per cent of the Irish population lives within 5km of the coast; the ocean affects our weather and climate; it provides us with food; and many of our industries rely on the ocean for transportation for importing and exporting goods. Students and teachers also get to learn how their daily actions, as well as how decisions made at a local, national and international level can affect the marine environment.
There are four Explorer modules which include saltwater aquariums in classrooms and seashore safaris where students learn about animals from their local seashore, their local seashore environment and the larger ocean, as well as focus on environmental awareness and care. Marine project modules are coordinated by the Explorers team that range from marine biodiversity, marine history, language and art. Workshops are also run by some of the centres which focus on sciences, technology, engineering and maths. To ensure that all teachers have the opportunity to introduce marine content in their class or for school planning, all of the Explorer lesson plans and resources are free to download from www.explorers.ie.
Centres selected to represent the Explorers Education Programme, in line with public sector procurement guidelines, include: Leave No Trace, Galway Atlantaquaria, Loop Head Summer Hedge School, Sea Synergy, Lifetime Lab, Oceanic Surf School and Marine Education Centre, and Marine Dimensions. To participate in the Explorers Education Programme see www.explorers.ie for more information.
The Explorers Education Programme is supported by the Marine Institute, and is funded under the Marine Research Programme by the Irish Government.