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Bringing The Ocean Into The Classroom

22nd April 2016
Student teachers from DCU's St Patrick's Campus on a field trip as part of the Marine Institute's pilot module on marine science and heritage Student teachers from DCU's St Patrick's Campus on a field trip as part of the Marine Institute's pilot module on marine science and heritage Photo: Marine Institute

#MarineScience - Dublin City University's St Patrick's Campus and the Marine Institute ran a pilot marine module with over 40 student teachers this week, giving them an opportunity to learn about teaching marine science and Ireland’s marine heritage.

Marine Institute chief executive Dr Peter Heffernan welcomed the collaboration with DCU to introduce themes relating to the marine environment into the science module.

“We recognise the unique position teachers have to help students develop an understanding of our amazing ocean resources," he said. "We hope these teachers will inspire curiosity among their students to learn more about the ocean and to develop an understanding of how we influence the ocean and how the ocean influences us.”

With a focus on a 'Marine Day' on 20 April on campus and in and the wider university, the oceans, seas and shorelines around Ireland present many opportunities to introduce marine themes into a range of cross curricular lessons,” explained Dr Thomas McCloughlin lecturer and lab manager of science at DCU's St Patricks Campus.

The Marine Institute provided a saltwater aquarium as well as a tidal tank for the modules, showing how bringing the seashore to the class provides an exciting way to learn about marine animals typically found on the seashore.

The programme was delivered to over 40 second- and third-year student teachers and included a field trip to the seashore and a range of interactive presentations in class.

“Student teachers get to explore the seashore through field trips as well as analysing specimens through examination and dissection in class. This allows them to integrate examining the biological themes of the marine as well as introducing social, physical-human and geographical influences relating to understanding and ocean resource,” said Dr Noirin Burke of the Galway Atlantaquaria, representing the Marine Institute’s primary school Explorers Education Programme.

Ireland has a seabed territory of approximately 880,000 sq km, 10 times greater than the size of the island of Ireland, making this one of the largest maritime member states of the European Union.

“Therefore, with Ireland being responsible for such a significant ocean resource, it is considered fundamental to teach Irish children, particularly as we are an Island nation, the historical and cultural values as well as the geographical and scientific backgrounds of our marine environment,” said Cushla Dromgool-Regan, responsible for the strategic development of education at the Marine Institute.

The pilot is supported by the Marine Institute and the Explorers Education Programme, which 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 pilot was supported by Explorer Education Centres, Galway Atlantaquaria, Blackrock Education Centre and Sea Life Bray. For more information about the Explorers Education Programme see www.explorers.ie.

Published in Marine Science
MacDara Conroy

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MacDara Conroy

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MacDara Conroy is a contributor covering all things on the water, from boating and wildlife to science and business

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Marine Science Perhaps it is the work of the Irish research vessel RV Celtic Explorer out in the Atlantic Ocean that best highlights the essential nature of marine research, development and sustainable management, through which Ireland is developing a strong and well-deserved reputation as an emerging centre of excellence. From Wavebob Ocean energy technology to aquaculture to weather buoys and oil exploration these pages document the work of Irish marine science and how Irish scientists have secured prominent roles in many European and international marine science bodies.

 

At A Glance – Ocean Facts

  • 71% of the earth’s surface is covered by the ocean
  • The ocean is responsible for the water cycle, which affects our weather
  • The ocean absorbs 30% of the carbon dioxide added to the atmosphere by human activity
  • The real map of Ireland has a seabed territory ten times the size of its land area
  • The ocean is the support system of our planet.
  • Over half of the oxygen we breathe was produced in the ocean
  • The global market for seaweed is valued at approximately €5.4 billion
  • · Coral reefs are among the oldest ecosystems in the world — at 230 million years
  • 1.9 million people live within 5km of the coast in Ireland
  • Ocean waters hold nearly 20 million tons of gold. If we could mine all of the gold from the ocean, we would have enough to give every person on earth 9lbs of the precious metal!
  • Aquaculture is the fastest growing food sector in the world – Ireland is ranked 7th largest aquaculture producer in the EU
  • The Atlantic Ocean is the second largest ocean in the world, covering 20% of the earth’s surface. Out of all the oceans, the Atlantic Ocean is the saltiest
  • The Pacific Ocean is the largest ocean in the world. It’s bigger than all the continents put together
  • Ireland is surrounded by some of the most productive fishing grounds in Europe, with Irish commercial fish landings worth around €200 million annually
  • 97% of the earth’s water is in the ocean
  • The ocean provides the greatest amount of the world’s protein consumed by humans
  • Plastic affects 700 species in the oceans from plankton to whales.
  • Only 10% of the oceans have been explored.
  • 8 million tonnes of plastic enter the ocean each year, equal to dumping a garbage truck of plastic into the ocean every minute.
  • 12 humans have walked on the moon but only 3 humans have been to the deepest part of the ocean.

(Ref: Marine Institute)

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