New Science Toolkit to be Distributed to Schools Across Ireland

Representatives of the Irish team of educators involved in the development of Spikey’s Journey: an Exploration Box at the launch in Scoil Iosef Naofa, Oranmore. From left to Right: Vivienne Kelly, Knocknakarra Education Together; Anna McGuire, Mercy Presentation Primary School; Lindsay Deely, Toodelou Creative Lab; Phil James, ProActivate Ireland; and Sarah Carroll and Muriel Grenon, Cell EXPLORERS NUI Galway. Photo by Aengus McMahon
Jan 07 2019 Posted: 14:45 GMT

A new science toolkit designed to teach children about environmental science is to be distributed to 300 classrooms throughout Ireland. Launched during the 2018 Science Week at Scoil Iosef Naofa, Oranmore, Co. Galway, the free educational toolkit ‘Spikey’s Journey: an Exploration Box’ is the culmination of a two year-long European project developed in Ireland by NUI Galway Cell EXLORERS, ProActivate Ireland, and Toodlelou Creativity Lab.

Using the hedgehog as the principal character, the toolkit takes first and second class pupils on an explorative journey using storytelling, hands-on activities and games to learn about four key topics in environmental science. The primary aim of the toolkit is to promote active learning based on observation and experimentation.

The exploration box contains a ‘Kamishibai’, a storytelling theatre that teachers can use to take their class through the story of Spikey. Each chapter of the story introduces students to a new learning topic, such as understanding the key characteristics of living things, the food web and how it functions, habitats and hibernation and the vital role we all play in protecting the living environment. Through hands-on projects, activities and games, these topics are explored, discussed and examined to reinforce new learning.

Muriel Grenon, Director of the Cell EXPLORERS programme at NUI Galway, said: “This project was a great opportunity to collaborate with some of the most successful and innovative science outreach programmes in Europe as well as with enthusiastic teachers from local national schools. There was a rich exchange of practical knowledge and experience and from this collaboration emerged a freely accessible online resource which can benefit the children in Ireland.”

Classrooms throughout Ireland will benefit from the development of this kit containing a new combination of teaching methods and tools to support primary school teachers prepare and conduct engaging science lessons that will stimulate children’s natural curiosity. Teachers across four European countries have been invited to use this toolkit, which is the result of an Erasmus+ European project linking researchers and education practitioners from Ireland, the United Kingdom, Austria and Poland. The toolkit has been produced in three languages for dissemination in each project country.

The content of the exploration box and its activities were reviewed and piloted in Galway by first and second class teachers Ronan Dunne from Galway Educate Together, Vivienne Kelly from Knocknacara Educate Together, Anna McGuire from Mercy Primary School, and Niamh Cormican from Scoil Iosef Naofa, Oranmore.

The toolkit will be distributed nationally to requesting teachers through the Galway Education Centre as well as education centres located in Donegal, Dublin West, Wexford, Monaghan, Navan, Tralee and Clare from January 2019.

Mark Finlay, Director, Galway Education Centre, commented: “This is a fantastic resource for primary schools so that pupils can learn about environmental science in an interactive way. We, in Galway Education Centre, are delighted to be able to share the toolkit with our local schools.”

Teachers who use the toolkit in their classroom can share their feedback and comments through Twitter, Facebook or Instagram using #spikeysjourney and tagging @cellexplorers and @toodleloukids.

Schools who wish to use the toolkit as part of their application for a Science Foundation Ireland Discover Science and Maths (DPSM) Award can provide images and feedback by social media, which will be posted to the Spikey’s Journey page of the Cell EXPLORERS website  This link can then be used as a Logs of Evidence for the award application.

For further information on the InEdu Erasmus plus project material and access to Spikey’s Journey online toolkit logon on to the resource website

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