Students from Rang 2, Scoil Shéamais Naofa, Bearna got up close and personal with sharks on the RV Celtic Explorer as part of the Marine Institute's outreach and engagement programme.
The students completed a project module on sharks in Irish waters as part of the Marine Institute's Explorers Education Programme and also had the unique opportunity to visit the RV Celtic Explorer.
Outreach Officer Padraic Creedon of the Explorers Education Programme said, "One of the unique elements of the Explorers Education programme is the content and support provided to teachers in the classroom in an easy and fun way. The students were inspired by the discovery of a rare shark nursery 200 miles off the west coast of Ireland in 2018, and we were delighted to create lessons, interactive experiments and discussion about the ocean, sharks and their environment for the class."
While on board the RV Celtic Explorer, students met with captain and scientists and saw what it might be like to work on a research vessel. Students spoke with Captain Denis Ronan about the Celtic Explorer, and learn more about the acoustically silent ship that can stay out at sea for up to 35 days.
The students were very excited to tour the research vessel and speak with marine scientists and discover more about shark species, seabed mapping, shipwrecks and the marine environment. Visiting the dry and wet labs, the students saw various fish species from recent surveys and shark species, such as dogfish and the tope shark.
Clár Ní Bhraonáin teacher at Scoil Shéamais Naofa said, "It has been an amazing experience to be part of the Marine Institute's Explorers programme where the students have had a marine scientist in the classroom and also got the opportunity to visit the vessel. Students don't forget days like this."
The Explorers programme offers a range of materials to work with, including lesson plans to conduct experiments in class, watching film footage that helps generate lots of discussion and peer learning with the students.
"Because of the students' enthusiasm to learn more about sharks, we have been able to incorporate marine themes across the curriculum, where they have excelled and produced some incredible work, from writing books about sharks to a series of posters and artwork. This project has really helped myself and the students learn more about the ocean," Clár Ní Bhraonáin further said.
Dr Peter Heffernan CEO of the Marine Institute said, "Our Explorers Education Programme is instrumental in engaging the next generation of marine enthusiasts, scientists and ocean champions. The programme aims to build on Ireland's marine and maritime heritage by increasing awareness of the value, opportunities and social benefits of our ocean wealth and identity. As the Explorers Programme now reaches over 13,000 primary school students per year and provides training and support for teachers, it is imperative that we continue to cultivate an interest in our ocean from a young age."
The Explorers Education Programme introduces teachers and students to cross curricular lessons and activities that incorporate learning about the ocean which are delivered through outreach programmes as well as making resources and lesson plans available online. For more information on the Explorers Education outreach centres visit the Explorers Contacts page at www.explorers.ie The programme is supported by the Marine Institute, and is funded under the Marine Research Programme by the Irish Government.
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Photo Caption: Rang 2 primary school children from Scoil Shéamais Naofa, Bearna got up close to fish and shark species on the RV Celtic Explorer as part of the Marine Institute's Explorers Education Programme. Pictured is Ronan Costello and Lauren Sherlock with an Atlantic Thornyhead and Monkfish. Photo: Andrew Downes, Xposure
Photo caption: Rang 2 primary school children from Scoil Shéamais Naofa, Bearna got up close with fish and shark species on the RV Celtic Explorer as part of the Marine Institute's Explorers Education Programme. Students touch the skin of a tope shark. Photo: Andrew Downes, Xposure