The pupils completed a project module on sharks in Irish waters as part of the Marine Institute’s Explorers Education Programme, and also had the opportunity to visit the State research vessel.
Outreach officer Padraic Creedon of the Explorers Education Programme said one if the programme’s unique elements “is the content and support provided to teachers in the classroom in an easy and fun way.
“The students were inspired by the discovery of a rare shark nursery 200 miles off the west coast of Ireland in 2018, and we were delighted to create lessons, interactive experiments and discussion about the ocean, sharks and their environment for the class.”
While on board the RV Celtic Explorer, pupils met with the captain and scientists and saw what it might be like to work on a research vessel.
Students spoke with Captain Denis Ronan about the Celtic Explorer, and learn more about the acoustically silent ship that can stay out at sea for up to 35 days.
The pupils were excited to tour the vessel and speak with marine scientists to discover more about shark species, seabed mapping, shipwrecks and the marine environment.
Visiting the dry and wet labs, the pupils saw various fish species from recent surveys and shark species, such as dogfish and the tope shark.
Clár Ní Bhraonáin, teacher at Scoil Shéamais Naofa, said: “It has been an amazing experience … Students don’t forget days like this.”
The Explorers programme offers a range of materials including lesson plans to conduct experiments in class, watching films that helps generate discussion, and peer learning among pupils.
“Because of the students’ enthusiasm to learn more about sharks, we have been able to incorporate marine themes across the curriculum, where they have excelled and produced some incredible work, from writing books about sharks to a series of posters and artwork,” Ní Bhraonáin added.
“This project has really helped myself and the students learn more about the ocean.”
For more information on the Explorers Education outreach centres, visit the Explorers Contacts page at Explorers.ie. The programme is supported by the Marine Institute and is funded under the Marine Research Programme by the Government.