The wonders of Irish marine life came to the LifeTime Lab in Cork this week (28th March onwards) with the launch of a fortnight of school visits in collaboration with the “Explorers” Primary Marine Outreach and Education Programme.
The Explorers Programme, which has already been successfully rolled out to some 40 primary schools in the West of Ireland from Mayo to Clare, and in six schools in the greater Dublin area is a collaborative effort between the Marine Institute, Forfas Discover Primary Science, the Galway Atlantaquaria and Galway, Mayo and Clare Education Centres in the West and the Bray Sea Life Centre and Blackrock Education Centre in the Dublin Area.
The aim of the Programme is to empower primary school teachers to include marine themes into their classes by providing specially devised lesson plans and other support services adapted to the SESE primary curriculum.
“The Explorers Programme focuses on Ireland’s two greatest natural resources – our vast undersea territory and our young people,” said Dr. Peter Heffernan, CEO of the Marine Institute. “If Ireland is to develop a thriving marine sector in tomorrow’s world, then it will be the young people of today who will make it happen.”
Introducing the "Indoor Seashore" to budding marine biologists of the future
As well as providing specially adapted lesson plans via its website at www.explorers.ie, the Programme also assists local Education Centres with special in-service courses for teachers on seashore ecology, marine history, arts, crafts and mathematics.
“We are delighted to be involved in the pilot series of workshops, we are always looking for new and innovative ways of engaging in science education and raising the awareness of marine science in Cork classrooms can only bring long term benefits,” said Mervyn Horgan Manager of Lifetime Lab. “We perceive Lifetime Lab as an extra classroom for every school in the city and county, a science nursery for institutions whose high level graduates ensure that Cork has a well educated and highly skilled workforce long into the future”.
Close encounters of the wet kind with a tank of living sea animals at the LifeTime Lab in Cork
One essential element of the Explorers programme is the partnerships with commercial public aquaria on the east and west coasts and Galway Atlantaquaria has been involved with the Explorers Programme in Galway since 2005. “This is a landmark day for theExplorers programme,” said Liam Twomey, whose team recently achieved their second prestigious award - Best Education Project : Public and General Visitor 2010 - from the Britain and Ireland Association of Zoos and Aquaria (BIAZA) for their marine education and outreach activities. “The fact that the programme has now been rolled out on both sides of the country underscores the success of it as a business model for education and outreach.”
Check out the full Explorers website at www.explorers.ie