4 November 2020 - Primary school students from 5th and 6th class at St Patricks National School Craanford recently took part in the Marine Institute Explorers Education Programme and engaged in the wonders of learning about sharks in Irish waters and around the world. As part of the learning experience, the children were also given a unique opportunity to share their discoveries on the children's programme news2day, aired today on RTE.
The Explorers Education Programme Outreach Officer Padraic Creedon worked with the teacher Jackie Cousins and her class introducing a wide range of online and blended learning activities where the children were inspired by stories about sharks in Irish waters, the discovery of a rare shark nursery 200 miles off the west coast of Ireland, and some of the wonders of sharks around the world.
"Meeting teachers and classes through online and blended learning activities has helped make the Explorers programme more accessible for coastal and inland schools teaching children about the ocean. Working with the Wexford class from my Galway base has been one of my highlights this year. Seeing their work from the shark frame on their classroom door to the detailed sculptures and art work of various Irish sharks created by the students was fantastic. The children's work showing the basking shark, which is found in Irish waters and the second largest shark in the world, was a particular favourite of mine. This all highlighted the importance of engaging in ocean exploration and creating ocean champions at primary school level," said Padraic, who also works at Galway Atlantaquaria.
"Connecting with the children on line and in the class with Padraic generated huge excitement for us all. The children's enthusiasm to learn about sharks helped us incorporate a range of subjects in the class from science, english to the arts. The Explorers approach with the class also gave the children a voice, where they were able to lead the discussion about sharks and what they wanted to learn. This sense of collective engagement as well as doing their own research opened up an amazing sense of discovery, where they have excelled and produced some incredible work, from writing facts and stories about sharks to producing a series of posters and artwork." said Jackie.
Combined with a visit from RTE news2day presenter Mícheál Ó Scannáil who interviewed the class, he highlighted the children's enthusiasm for learning about the ocean and sharing their work stating "the children's presentations were amazing and I was delighted to visit a school from my home county. It was brilliant to do a video package that was so well prepared for me on arrival. The Marine Institute's Explorers Education Programme had the kids really up-to-date with their shark facts and the class had put huge effort into decorating the school with shark-themed art and with their brilliant projects."
"We had great fun in Craanford and the kids and Padraic taught me a lot about sharks. I still don't know if I'd hop in the sea with them though!!" added Mícheál.
Dr Paul Connolly CEO of the Marine Institute congratulated the Explorers team on their recent move to working with teachers and children through online and blended learning activities, "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. The Explorers Programme has been reaching over 12,000 primary school students around the coast of Ireland on an annual basis. Through its new blended learning approach, it now provides an opportunity for classes throughout Ireland 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.
For more information, please contact:
Education Programme Manager & Communications Lead
(Marine Institute's Explorers Education Programme)
The Camden Education Trust
C/o Galway Education Centre
Cluain Mhuire, Wellpark, Galway