Global Action Plan Ireland and the Irish National Sailing & Powerboat School (INSS) shared their love for the ocean on Valentine’s Day with primary schools in Ballymun and Dun Laoghaire as part of the Marine Institute’s Explorers Education Programme.
With a Master’s degree in Marine Sustainability and a passion for sharing her love for the ocean, Eimear Manning, education officer with Global Action Plan Ireland, started an Explorers marine science project with over 25 children from Virgin Mary GNS in Ballymun, North Dublin.
Beginning this week, they will be exploring everything from plankton to sharks, and how climate change effects all creatures in the sea. Sharks are a speciality of Eimear’s, who joins frequent expeditions in Florida to tag and collect data on sharks off the Miami coast.
“I am really excited to be involved in the Explorers Education Programme and having their support providing clear objectives of how to increase marine engagement and ocean literacy in schools in Ireland,” she said.
“Having also recently represented Ireland at the All-Atlantic Ocean Research Forum in Brussels as an All-Atlantic Youth Ambassador has highlighted the importance of children engaging in our ocean.
“The involvement of youth in addressing how we enjoy and use our ocean resources helps to ensure we are better equipped to look after our environment now and into the future.”
Also involved in the pilot outreach training is Muriel Rumball from INSS, who brings a wealth of expertise to the team where she has been involved in teaching children about all aspects of the ocean, from marine recreation to formal education.
Running a seashore safari with students from Glenageary Killiney National School, Muriel highlighted the value of teaching children about the marine on the curriculum.
“I have worked with children for many years both in and out of school and it is extremely important that we give children the opportunity to extend their education relating to environmental care outdoors,” she said.
‘Exploring the seashore at our doorstep is key to ensuring we learn to truly value, love and engage with the ocean in a positive way’
“Sharing and seeing children touch, feel and smell the ocean as well as exploring the seashore at our doorstep is key to ensuring we learn to truly value, love and engage with the ocean in a positive way.”
Recently selected to take part in Explorers pilot training, the teams — along with four other outreach centres from Louth, Wexford and Limerick — took part in a three-day workshop in Galway run by Dr Noirin Burke of Galway Atlantaquaria and Cushla Dromgool-Regan of the Camden Education Trust.
“The training programme provided an excellent introduction for outreach centres wanting to learn more about how to introduce concepts of ocean literacy onto the curriculum, as well as support key aspects of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, with a particular reference to climate action and the ocean,” said Cushla, who is responsible for the strategic development and management of the Explorers Education Programme.
Welcoming the opportunity to support new centres and expand the Explorers reach around the country, Dr Burke added: “Initiatives like this help build on the success of the Explorers programme who have been working with primary schools for over fourteen years.
“We are delighted to be able to share our knowledge with the centres as well as help develop a stronger network of marine outreach professionals throughout Ireland.”
Dr Paul Connolly, chief executive of the Marine Institute, congratulated the Explorers training team and the centres in taking part in the pilot outreach training programme.
“Developing marine outreach that can support teachers in classrooms is key to ensuring children receive a unique experience of learning and engaging with the ocean,” he said. “In turn, this helps to equip children in becoming ocean leaders and marine champions of the future.”
For more information about the Explorers Education Programme see www.explorers.ie