Explorers Education Programme celebrates World Earth Day with launch of new marine environmental and care lesson plans

Explorers Education Programme celebrates World Earth Day. L-R Cushla Dromgool-Regan, Marine Institute, Roisin Dobey, Mary Immaculate College and Dr Noirin Burke, Galway AtlantaquariaCelebrating the theme of World Earth Day 2017 in April and leading up to World Ocean day in June, the Marine Institute's Explorers Education Programme recently published a series of new freely downloadable lesson plans, resources, and a guide for primary school teachers, to engage pupils in learning about marine environmental awareness and care.

"As our ocean and marine environment is under constant pressure from human activity and environmental impacts, the new Explorer educational resources provide teachers and their pupils with a wealth of inspirational ideas and the opportunities to engage in pressing marine issues, as well as creating solutions towards a healthier ocean and better future. This awareness and sense of responsibility towards our ocean adopted at a young age is important in fostering a wider public understanding of the value of the Atlantic Ocean," said Dr Peter Heffernan, CEO of the Marine Institute.

Working in collaboration with outreach and education specialists, Ms Cushla Dromgool-Regan, Marine Institute, Dr Noirin Burke, Galway Atlantaquaria and student teacher Roisin Dobey, from Mary Immaculate College, developed a series of cross curricular lesson plans that teachers can use for a range of marine environment and care projects including: endangered marine species; human impacts on the marine environment; marine litter and ocean pollution, as well as climate change and ocean acidification.

Congratulating the Explorers team on the development of new resources, Dr Heffernan said, "As an island nation, situated at the edge of the world's second largest ocean – the Atlantic, we all have a direct link to the marine environment in Ireland. The ocean has a significant influence on our prosperity, health and wellbeing, as well as affecting our climate and environment."

The world ocean plays a significant part in producing over half the oxygen we breathe. The ocean absorbs thirty percent of the carbon dioxide added to the atmosphere by human activity and it drives the water cycle affecting our climate and weather. The ocean also provides us with an abundance of resources supporting a marine economy in fisheries and seafood production, maritime transport, marine tourism, as well as in emerging sectors. Ireland's Ocean Economy SEMRU, NUI Galway states that Ireland's marine economy in fisheries and seafood production, maritime transport, marine tourism, as well as in emerging sectors and research and development has a turnover of €4.5 Billion annually, and provides over 29,000 direct and indirect jobs.

The new the Explorers Caring for Our Ocean Action Board poster and lesson plan has been developed to guide children to create a strategy to help care for the marine environment as individuals as well as collectively at a local, national and global level. The publication Explorers Planning Guide for Teachers - Marine Projects and Environmental Awareness and Care contains links to twenty lesson plans and teachers resources. A range of fun activities are included in the lessons, ranging from geography seashore exploration and two minute beach clean ups; science experiments of how to clean water; mathematical analysis of data of ocean pollution, to English and Gaeilge lessons on writing poems and news items as well as performing drama pieces on biodegradation, micro plastics to climate change.

All materials are freely available to download from www.explorers.ie.

The Explorers Education Programme™ is supported by the Marine Institute, and is funded under the Marine Research Programme by the Irish Government.

For more information relating to participating in the Explorer's project module Environmental Awareness and Care, contact your local education centre or Explorers centre