Minister Hildegarde Naughton presents the Explorers national Ocean Champions Award to Scoil Iósaif Naofa, Oranmore.

Scoil Iósaif Naofa Oranmore Boys School, County Galway on a high, finishing science week with the Explorers Ocean Champion Award for the best cross curricular project presented by Hildegarde Naughton, Minister of State at the Department of Transport. 21st November 2022: Pupils of Scoil Iósaif Naofa, Oranmore Boys National School, County Galway have been presented the Marine Institute’s Explorers Ocean Champion Award by Hildegarde Naughton, Minister of State at the Department of Transport for the best STEM and Cross Curricular award.

Congratulating the children and teachers involved in their healthy ocean project ‘Ocean Aware Because We Care’, Minister Naughton said, “The Explorers Ocean Champions Award is a fantastic example of an “all-inclusive school approach” to learn about our local marine environment and heritage. The incredible effort of the teachers, children, Explorers outreach team, and the partners from local boat builders to scientists and seabed mappers from INFOMAR shows that this project went beyond the classroom and highlights the value of teaching as a community.”

As part of the Explorers Ocean Champion Project and Awards initiative, the Programme Manager, Camden Education Trust, and the Explorers Programme outreach teams have worked with 28 primary schools, reaching up to 3,500 children and 124 teachers across 13 coastal counties, creating ‘healthy ocean’ projects covering themes from STEM, outdoor education, through to the arts and ocean literacy.

Minister Naughton added, “The title of the school project called “Ocean Aware Because We Care” is a wonderful slogan, as it represents the importance of learning about our ocean at a local level, so we are able to care for it now and into the future. The children’s extensive learning experience from visiting the displays at Galway City Museum, Galway Atlantaquaria, beach cleans coupled with school visits from the INFOMAR seabed mapping team, is a great example of local organisations working with the schools to inspire them to learn about the ocean. This project also helps open up opportunities to inspire future marine scientists and ocean champions.”   Hildegarde Naughton, Minister of State at the Department of Transport and Dr Paul Connolly, CEO Marine Institute chat to pupils from Scoil Iósaif Naofa Oranmore Boys School, Co. Galway, after been presented with the Explorers Ocean Champion Award for the best cross curricular project.

School Principal Maeve Meeneghan congratulated the lead teacher Ms Lillis and the Explorers outreach officer Noirin Burke, saying, “The Explorers Oceans Champions project has been a huge success on many levels where the children have thoroughly enjoyed this project and were motivated to learn and were engaged from the very start.”

“I was delighted that so many teachers and classes came on board and it has been a privilege to support and watch the unfolding of this project here in Scoil Iósaif Naofa. The Explorers Ocean Champions initiative promoted a culture of improvement, collaboration, innovation and creativity in learning and teaching beyond our imagination. It empowered staff to take on and carry out leadership roles and above all else, it awakened and built on our awareness of the natural resource on our doorstep here in Oranmore.”

Paul Connolly, CEO of the Marine Institute said, “Engaging our communities at a local level about the ocean and its biodiversity is important for the future health of our ocean. The children are our future scientists, mathematicians, engineers, artists, communicators and citizens – and they all need to be ocean champions now and into the future.”

“Over fifteen years ago we developed the Explorers Education Programme and Scoil Iósaif Naofa, Oranmore Boys National Schools was one of the first schools to take part in the activities that our outreach teams provided. Teachers such as Ms Lillis have also provided significant advice to the team on what makes a successful outreach programme and the importance of supporting the curriculum. It is a pleasure to see this school, on the doorsteps of the Marine Institute, still so actively involved in learning about its local marine and the wider ocean that surrounds us.”

This Ocean Champion project was carried out by the Explorers team at Galway Atlantaquaria. The Ocean Champion Awards are part of a nationwide initiative to develop ocean literacy at primary-school level. The Explorers Education Programme is fully funded by the Marine Institute, Ireland’s State agency for marine research and development, and is managed by Camden Education Trust.


Media contact:
Cushla Dromgool-Regan
Strategic Education and Communications Manager
(Marine Institute's Explorers Education Programme)
Camden Education Trust
Mobile: + 353 (0) 87 9185519