Bringing the Ocean to the Classroom
The wonders of Irish marine life came to the school classroom at St. Clare’s Primary School at Harold’s Cross, Dublin today (12th November) with the launch of the “Explorers” Primary Marine Outreach and Education Programme on the east coast.
L-R Pat O’ Suilleabhain of Bray Sea Life Centre, Maria Spring - Principal of St. Clares Primary School and Dr. Peter Heffernan with two Sixth Class Pupils at the launch of the Programme - Photos Jason Clarke Photography.
The Explorers Programme, which has already been successfully rolled out to some 40 primary schools in the West of Ireland from Mayo to Clare, 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 at the launch. “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.”
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.
Courses have been run in the Galway area since 2005 and it is planned to extend these to the east coast in 2011.
“The Explorers Programme is a fantastic opportunity for children to learn about the sea,” said Kate Rooney, Sixth Class Teacher and ICT Co-ordinator at St. Clare’s Primary School. “And for teachers, it offers the chance to explore a number of strands in the SESE curriculum in a new and exciting way. We are delighted to one of the first schools on the east coast to be invited to participate.”
One essential element of the Explorers programme is the partnerships with commercial pubic aquaria on the east and west coasts.
“Marine science is fun, and this programme proves it!” said Mr. Pat O’ Suilleabhain of the Bray Sea Life Centre. “Given Sea Life’s commitment to the promotion of marine education, I am delighted to be partnered with the Explorers Programme on the East Coast.”
Galway Atlantaquaria has been involved with the Explorers Programme in Galway since 2005.
“This is a landmark day for the Explorers 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.”
Full details of the Explorers Programme can be found at www.explorers.ie .