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Displaying items by tag: Explorers Education Programme

The Marine Institute has launched an updated edition of the Explorers Education Programme’s Wild About Wildlife on the Seashore workbook, which has also been translated into Irish, and is being used as a key teaching resource for student teachers at Mary Immaculate College in Limerick.

All second-year B.Ed students and postgraduate Masters in Education (PME) students have completed an ocean literacy workshop, delivered by staff from the Explorers programme.

Specialist workshops were organised for third- and fourth-year students completing specialisms in primary geography and sustainability.

Lecturer Dr Anne Dolan congratulated the Explorers team on their dedication to produce new fit-for-purpose teaching resources for educators, teachers and children.

“Working with Cushla Dromgool-Regan and Dr Nóirín Burke of the Explorers programme for nearly five years now has been an important element of encouraging student teachers to include marine biodiversity in their lesson plans,” Dr Dolan said. “The marine-themed resources can be used for cross-curricular teaching and to help teachers easily integrate and forge new experiences in and outside the classroom.

“The workshops held at Mary Immaculate College also inspire and engage student teachers to learn about our local environments and marine species, and are key to helping promote rich, flexible, creative learner-centred environments.”

With the new Primary School Curriculum Framework (2023) now introduced into schools, teachers have the responsibility to provide children with the skills they need for communication and critical decision-making.

Subjects taught as part of social and environmental education, STEM, the arts and languages all provide opportunities for children to develop their skills, and to make informed decisions about how to mitigate climate change and ocean pollution, and to protect our natural biodiversity.

These resources are freely available to download from Included are short films, posters and workbooks, art templates, species profiles and presentations for teachers and children to use in the classroom.

“We are so lucky to be working in collaboration with Dr Anne Dolan and Dr Jennifer Liston who are both recognised leaders in education,” said Dr Noirin Burke, Explorers delivery and team manager. “Promoting creative and flexible approaches to bringing the ocean into the classroom and across school content, is key to ensuring we create positive changes to protecting and using our marine resources in a sustainable way.”

The programme is funded by the Marine Institute, the State agency for marine research and development, and is managed by Camden Education and Galway Atlantaquaria.

Published in Marine Science

Scoil Chaitríona Junior in the Galway city suburb of Renmore has been crowned the national winner of the Explorers Ocean Champion School Awards 2023 for the Healthy Ocean project, ‘Caring for our Ocean’.

It marks the second year the prize has gone to a Galway school, with the 2022 gong presented to Scoil Iósaif Naofa, Oranmore Boys National School.

The Renmore primary pupils applied marine themes (environmental care, cleaning up litter, looking after the animals in the ocean) across many different subjects throughout the year, from the sciences through to music and the arts.

They shared stories about the ocean with a primary school in France, performed at the Marino Institute of Further Education in Dublin and at the Féile Scoildrámaíochta inter-school drama competition.

“We were also extremely impressed with the school’s collaboration and engagement where the teachers and children worked with marine scientists from ATU to learn about seaweed and birdlife, and with artists through the Teacher Artist Partnership, as well as meeting with other marine educators,” said Mick Gillooly, interim CEO of the Marine Institute.

“These children stood out for their eagerness to learn about the animals in the ocean, and for sharing what they learnt with their community about protecting and caring for the ocean.

“Bringing the topic of marine conservation to local, national and international platforms shows an incredible amount of commitment from the staff, children and their parents.”

Congratulating the children, teachers and the Explorers outreach team, Gillooly added: “The children’s enthusiasm was evident in many ways — in their shadow puppetry films, when they went on beach cleans, and in their musical performance ‘Fadhb na Mara’ about ocean conservation. Their work was exceptional.”

On behalf of the teachers, school principal Caitríona Daly said the award recognised their school’s commitment to learning about local areas — particularly their own seashore, Ballyloughane Beach. “We’re also delighted to have received an EU Blue Schools Award,” Daly said. “This award recognises the school’s effort to becoming ocean literate and for being an ocean champion!”

Twenty-eight coastal schools participated in this year’s competition, creating healthy ocean school projects based on themes including marine STEAM, ocean literacy, Sustainable Development Goals, and ocean and marine outdoor education.

“Each school showed incredible initiative by using cross-curricular content in support of the curriculum framework that introduces key competencies for children’s learning. These projects certainly show how the ocean can be used for thematic learning and how a healthy ocean is relevant to daily life,” said Cushla Dromgool-Regan, strategic education and communications manager of the Explorers Education Programme.

The Healthy Ocean school project and Ocean Champion Awards are organised through the Explorers Education Programme and the latter is the only ocean-themed award for primary schools in Ireland. It recognises the effort, commitment and collaboration of school management boards, teachers, children and the Explorer outreach officers who have engaged in the all-school, marine-themed project.

Published in Environment

The Marine Institute, alongside the Explorers Education Programme for primary schools, will be showcasing marine science at the 2023 Galway Science and Technology Festival this weekend.

Families are invited to the Bailey Allen Hall on the University of Galway campus on Sunday 12 November to learn more about Ireland’s shark species.

“We greatly enjoy the opportunity provided every year by the Galway Science and Technology Festival to highlight the work we do here at the Marine Institute, and to showcase in particular the Explorers Education Programme,” said Patricia Orme, director of corporate services at the Marine Institute.

“The event is perfect for fostering an interest in marine science in children and adults alike. With this year’s focus on sharks, we hope families will enjoy learning more about these fascinating creatures.”

Celebrating the launch of Explorers’ new children’s information book Fin-tastic Sharks: An Introduction to Elasmobranchs, the team will be sharing stories of the wonders of sharks from around the world to those found in Irish waters.

“We all know that children love sharks, skates and rays,” said Cushla Dromgool-Regan, strategic education and communications manager of the Explorers Education Programme. “The Explorers team is very excited about examining the jaws of the great white shark, to the giant teeth of the megalodon and to also learn about the super powers of many different shark species closer to home.”

A still from video captured of the shark nursery in deep waters off the West of Ireland during the SeaRover ROV survey in 2018 | Credit: Marine InstituteA still from video captured of the shark nursery in deep waters off the West of Ireland during the SeaRover ROV survey in 2018 | Credit: Marine Institute

Ireland’s ocean resource is the perfect refuge for endangered species, such as the world’s second largest shark, the basking shark, the common stingray and the white skate which is critically endangered.

Dromgool-Regan added: “Seventy-one species of sharks, skates, rays and chimaeras are found in Irish waters. This is over half the number of all of these species in Europe. This highlights the importance of the collaborative work of the scientists at the Marine Institute who work with other scientists, fishers and local communities to help establish [the status of] sharks, skates and rays in Irish waters.”

The Explorers team will also be displaying lots of shark biofacts and some of their favourite sharks, including baby lesser spotted dogfish and shark egg cases, also known as mermaid purses.

Families will have the opportunity to learn more about the 2018 discovery of an extremely rare shark nursery. Very large numbers of mermaid’s purses were observed on the sea floor at depths of 750 metres. Such large concentrations are very uncommon, indicating that females may gather in this area on the seafloor to lay their eggs.

Video footage of an extremely rare angelshark sighting in Rinville during the summer by some student kayaking enthusiasts will also be on display.

The Marine Institute’s exhibition ‘The Wild Atlantic – Sea Science' is also open at the Galway City Museum. Free to visitors, the gallery features seabed mapping, amazing scientific discoveries and creatures of the deep. In the ROV (remotely operated vehicle) simulator, explore ocean depths like a marine scientist and discover cold-water corals, shipwrecks and a rare shark nursery.

For more information on the 2023 Galway Science and Technology Festival programme and to register for free event tickets, visit It’s sure to be a fin-tastic day out for the whole family!

Published in Marine Wildlife

The Marine Institute’s Explorers Education Programme team recently took part in the launch of a series of new primary-school education resources, Explorers: Turtle Talk with Sea Turtles, at their recent team training held in Laois.

Patricia Orme, corporate services director with the Marine Institute, congratulated the Explorers team involved in creating the resources.

“The books, presentations, and short videos all provide teachers with practical content to help develop children’s competencies,” she said. “It is also great to see that themes that explore how to help reduce plastics in the ocean and how to mitigate climate change are keenly promoted throughout the sea turtle books.”

The resource pack is freely available to download from the Explorers website and supports cross-curricular teaching, STEM and learning about Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It includes creating turtle words and mind-maps, writing poems and songs and describing a turtle’s life cycle, as well as making tote bags and turtle toys from recycled fabrics.

“It is also wonderful to see the Explorers outreach team’s enthusiasm for creating five life-size sea-turtles ‘far from open water’,” Orme added.

“The five turtles — leatherback, loggerhead, Kemp’s Ridley, hawksbill and green — are now being spotted around the country, inspiring sea turtle madness and mayhem. I am sure we will see many more of these magnificent animals being created in the classrooms, inspiring new stories and adventures.”

‘Scientists now understand that leatherback turtles are long-distance seasonal visitors to Irish waters’

Explorers: Turtle Talk with Sea Turtles is packed with information and facts, and takes the teachers and children on a journey of species identification, habitats, location and lifecycle. It also follows the journey of the five species that have been recorded in Irish waters — some caught in ocean currents and others that purposefully come to Ireland to track their favourite food: jellyfish.

Cushla Dromgool-Regan of the Explorers programme and lead author of the information books, workbooks and presentations, said that she is “delighted with the uptake of the books and eagerness of the outreach team, teachers and children who are planning to use these resources to learn more about the ocean over the next term.

“The books are full of descriptive fun facts and information about sea turtles from around the world that will fascinate children and teachers alike.

“Scientists now understand that leatherbacks are long-distance seasonal visitors to Irish waters, migrating to temperate waters to feed and returning to their native waters to mate and to nest. The largest leatherback ever recorded was a male, washed ashore in Wales in 1988, weighing in at 916 kg. It measured almost 3m overall and 2.5m across the span of its front flippers,” Dromgool-Regan said.

All turtles found in EU waters are strictly protected under the Habitats Directive, which aims to conserve rare and threatened species. Six of the seven species around the world are under threat and now face extinction, and are listed as either ‘vulnerable’, ‘endangered’ or ‘critically endangered’ on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List.

“Many individuals and organisations are helping to promote the conservation of these animals and the habitats in which they live,” Dromgool-Regan added. “Engagement at all levels is required to support these efforts. We all have an important role to play in changing our behaviour and caring for our environment, and it is wonderful to see children keen to take up this challenge.”

Published in Marine Science

Over 75 primary school teachers took part in the Marine Institute’s Explorers Continuing Professional Development (CPD) marine-themed training courses this month.

Across the five days of these courses, they learned the value of integrating marine themes in their teaching as part of the new Primary School Curriculum Framework.

Patricia Orme, corporate services director with the Marine Institute described the courses as “key to introducing marine knowledge to teachers to share with their classes, schools and communities, particularly at a time when we need to engage our communities with the value of the ocean, marine biodiversity and with understanding climate change”.

Orme added: “Based on the teachers’ feedback, it is rewarding to know that the teachers are excited about using the Explorers seashore resources, as well as our marine-themed content for class and school projects in the new school year.”

Cushla Dromgool-Regan, Explorers Education Programme strategic manager explained the benefits of these courses for teachers preparing engaging lessons for the new school year.

“The seashore courses provided teachers this year with an opportunity to explore sand dunes and rock pools, create art pieces from flotsam and jetsam, carry out beach-clean games and learn about seashore animals and different types of seaweeds,” she said. “This is a fun and interactive way to teach children about our ocean, marine biodiversity, as well as addressing serious issues such as marine pollution and climate change.

“As a number of teachers noted in their feedback, the Explorers educational resources and content supports the new Primary Curriculum Framework and is an excellent way to integrate cross curricular content throughout much of the year using thematic learning.”

The Explorers programme is also providing an online course — Exploring Ireland’s Seashore through science + — which is being delivered through pre-recordings and online support. This course provides an excellent introduction to teaching marine themes in the classroom and will be available up until 18 August.

The Explorers summer CPD courses have been developed and carried out by the Explorers team including Galway Atlantaquaria, Leave No Trace, Sea Synergy, Old Cork Waterworks Experience, Oceanics and Camden Education. The courses were supported by the Galway, Tralee and West Cork Education centres, as well as Waterford teachers centre. All the courses are approved for EPV certification by the Department of Education and Skills.

Published in Marine Science

The Marine Institute’s Explorers Education Programme won the Best Education Outreach Award in The Education Awards 2023, announced at a gala event in Dublin recently.

“We are delighted that the Explorers Programme’s outreach module Healthy Ocean Project and Ocean Champions Award has been recognised for its excellence in promoting ocean literacy at primary-school level,” said Marine Institute chief executive Dr Paul Connolly. “This award recognises the quality of the programme and the work of those delivering it throughout the country.”

“This initiative provides children with invaluable knowledge about the marine environment, and it inspires innovation and presents opportunities across marine science, technology and the arts.”

The Explorers Healthy Ocean initiative is based on cooperation and co-creation and applies an ‘all-school’ approach where teachers, children, the programme’s outreach teams and local communities work together towards becoming ocean champions.

The judging panel described the Explorers programme as a “creative and innovative method of outreach and engagement”. The “very cohesive programme” highlights an important subject — healthy oceans — and has a “highly commendable collaborative approach in place to resolve the challenges the ocean faces. It shows a firm methodology that is achieving great results.”

“This recognition highlights the importance of marine-themed content being taught in primary schools. Seashore field trips, along with STEM and STEAM projects help teachers to focus on delivering content that promotes ocean literacy and engagement, in line the with new Primary Curriculum Framework,” said Cushla Dromgool-Regan, strategic manager with the Camden Education Trust, which manages the Explorers programme.

“The teams have worked extremely hard on the Healthy Ocean initiative and we’re very lucky and proud to have such talented people on board who inspire teachers and children to want to learn more about the ocean and how it influences all facets of life — from the oxygen we breathe, to the energy we use in our homes and to the food we eat.

“Applying an integrated approach helps schools to implement key competencies and skills for children’s learning. The annual Healthy Ocean School Project & Ocean Champion Awards initiative is an excellent example of how this can be achieved.”

The Explorers Education Programme outreach teams include Galway Atlantaquaria, Leave No Trace Ireland, Sea Synergy, Old Cork Waterworks Experience, Oceanics Surf School and and Seashore Kids.

The Education Awards 2023 were presented at a gala event at the Crowne Plaza in Santry, north Dublin on Thursday 27 April.

Published in Marine Science

Pupils of Scoil Iósaif Naofa, Oranmore Boys National School in Co Galway have been presented with the Marine Institute’s Explorers Ocean Champion Award for the Best STEM and Cross Curricular project by Hildegarde Naughton, Minister of State at the Department of Transport.

Congratulating the children and teachers involved in their healthy ocean project, ‘Ocean Aware Because We Care’, Minister Naughton said: “The Explorers Ocean Champions Award is a fantastic example of an all-inclusive school approach to learn about our local marine environment and heritage.

“The incredible effort of the teachers, children, Explorers outreach team, and the partners from local boat builders to scientists and seabed mappers from INFOMAR shows that this project went beyond the classroom and highlights the value of teaching as a community.”

As part of the Explorers Ocean Champion project and awards initiative, the programme Manager, Camden Education Trust and the Explorers Education Programme outreach teams have worked with 28 primary schools, reaching up to 3,500 children and 124 teachers across 13 coastal counties, creating ‘healthy ocean’ projects covering themes from STEM and outdoor education to the arts and ocean literacy.

The minister added: “The title of the school project called ‘Ocean Aware Because We Care’ is a wonderful slogan, as it represents the importance of learning about our ocean at a local level, so we are able to care for it now and into the future.

“The children’s extensive learning experience from visiting the displays at Galway City Museum, Galway Atlantaquaria, beach cleans coupled with school visits from the INFOMAR seabed mapping team, is a great example of local organisations working with the schools to inspire them to learn about the ocean. This project also helps open up opportunities to inspire future marine scientists and ocean champions.”

School principal Maeve Meeneghan congratulated the lead teacher Ms Lillis and the Explorers outreach officer Noirin Burke, saying: “The Explorers Ocean Champions initiative promoted a culture of improvement, collaboration, innovation and creativity in learning and teaching beyond our imagination. It empowered staff to take on and carry out leadership roles and above all else, it awakened and built on our awareness of the natural resource on our doorstep here in Oranmore.”

Published in Environment

The black seadevil anglerfish was voted as “one of the ugliest deep-sea fish species” during the launch of the new Explorers Education Programme book and resources, The Good, The Bad + The Ugly: Deep Sea Species, which took place at the Marine Institute exhibit at the Galway Science and Technology Festival 2022.

Inspired by the work of the Marine Institute’s scientists that carry out deep-sea fishing surveys on board the research vessels each year, Cushla Dromgool-Regan — Explorers strategic education and communications manager at Camden Education Trust — said she was delighted to produce a new book and resources that showcased the amazing marine wildlife that are found in the deepest parts of the ocean in Ireland and around the world.

“I love deep-sea animals and their amazing ability to adapt under extreme conditions,” she said. “The animals selected for the book were based on some of our favourite deep-sea species that we have affectionately called the good, the bad and the ugly — because of their incredible features that help them survive. Some look cute but are deadly and others look angry but are basically looking for their next meal.”

Families were introduced to some of these amazing animals at the exhibit, where they saw a display of supersized photos of the deep-sea species. The blobfish known as Mr Blobby, the viperfish with giant fangs, the hagfish that produces slime in seconds and the goblin shark with a protruding jaw were just some of the children’s favourites.

The Explorers programme team were delighted to see their mascot, the black seadevil anglerfish come in with top votes by children “who loved learning about its bioluminescent lure, expandable stomach and huge mouth that can pretty much eat anything it can get its mouth around”, Dromgool-Regan added.

“There are over 200 species of anglerfish. Among them, the species known as the monkfish can open its mouth wide enough to engulf other animals larger than itself. It is reported that monkfish have been found with birds in their stomachs including gulls, puffins and cormorants.”

‘The workbook and lessons and activities will help develop children’s STEM skills, while also increasing their engagement in the ocean’

Patricia Orme, corporate services director with the Marine Institute congratulated the Explorers team on the production of the excellent new resources.

“This will certainly generate excitement in the classroom!” she said. “The materials are packed full of photos and graphics showing the greatest explorers, ocean zones as well as the weird and wonderful creatures that call the deep-sea home.

“The workbook and lessons and activities are also really well illustrated and we are sure will help develop children’s STEM skills, while also increasing their engagement in the ocean.”

The Good, The Bad + The Ugly: Deep Sea Species and resources are free to download from the Explorers website. The Explorers team will also be delivering deep-sea species class projects with primary schools, where teachers will receive printed copies of the introductory book and workbooks with a range of cross-curricular activities for the children.

There are over 20 activities to choose from such as making an anglerfish light card — learning about electricity and circuits — to one of the Explorers teams’ favourites: creating fashion from slime, inspired by the hag fish.

The Explorers Education Programme is funded by the Marine Institute, the State agency for marine research and development, and delivered by outreach centres to primary schools around the country, as well as for Leave No Trace Ireland, Galway Atlantaquaria, Sea Synergy, Old Cork Waterworks – Lifetime Lab, Oceanics and SEASHOREKIDS.

Published in Marine Wildlife

A five-day continuing professional development (CPD) course has been successfully delivered in person to over 70 primary school teachers in Waterford, Kerry, Galway and for the first time in Cork.

Plus, a further 40 teachers are completed the Explorers Education Programme course online.

The programme, approved by the Department of Education and Skills, provides primary school teachers with the ocean knowledge and skills to introduce marine themes through cross-curricular teaching such as science, maths, geography, English and arts in classroom, as well as conducting field trips to the seashore.

Exploring sand dunes and rock pools, creating art pieces from flotsam and jetsam, conducting beach-clean games on the shore as well as learning about the seashore animals and the different types of seaweeds are all ways to teach children how to interact with the natural world.

Congratulating the Explorers team involved in the delivery of the programme nationwide, Patricia Orme, corporate services director with the Marine Institute said: “These courses are key to introducing teachers to ocean concepts, environmental awareness and climate change.

“We are delighted to see in-person CPD courses back in full swing and the Explorers first online course is also doing extremely well. The expansion of the CPD summer teachers training courses reaching over 100 teachers this year is testament to the hard work of the Explorers team and the ongoing support also provided by the education centres in Galway, Waterford, Tralee–Kerry, West Cork and Mayo.”

Cushla Dromgool-Regan, Explorers strategic education and communications manager with the Camden Education Trust thanked the teachers for their enthusiasm in teaching marine subjects in their classrooms.

Rory McAvinney from Galway Atlantaquaria delivers the Exploring Ireland’s Seashore course tho primary school teachers in Galway | Credit: Maria Vittoria MarraRory McAvinney from Galway Atlantaquaria delivers the Exploring Ireland’s Seashore course tho primary school teachers in Galway | Credit: Maria Vittoria Marra

“We were delighted with the positive feedback and especially where a number of teachers said that the skills learned during the training have also provided them with far reaching skills beyond the classroom and within their communities,” she said.

“One teacher explained that she had recently seen a mother finding it difficult to answer her child’s questions about what they were seeing on the shore in the rock pools, and unfortunately quickly pulled the child along.

“The teacher said at the time she felt disappointed she couldn’t help, but now after completing the Explorers course, she feels confident to help potential seashore explorers in this situation. She is now looking forward to paying it forward and encouraging children and parents to keep exploring over the summer, as well as when she gets back to school.

“The teacher's positive feedback and enthusiasm is very encouraging and highlights the importance of sharing our knowledge about the ocean. The idea of ‘paying it forward’ to inspire a new generation of ocean advocates is key to helping children develop a greater appreciation of the importance of the ocean and an understanding of the significant impact it has on our daily lives.”

The CPD course, Exploring Ireland’s Seashore through Science, Maths, Geography, English and Art, is still open for teachers to complete online. Registration closes on Wednesday 17 August. For further information see

The Explorers Education Programme is managed by the Camden Education Trust and support services are provided by Galway Atlantaquaria. Explorers teams involved in the CPD training include Leave no Trace - Ireland (Waterford), Lifetime Lab (Cork), Sea Synergy (Kerry) and Galway Atlantaquaria (Galway).

The Explorers Education Programme is funded by the Marine Institute, Ireland’s State agency for marine research, technology development and innovation. For further information about the Explorer Education Programme see

Published in Marine Science

The Explorers Education Programme has launched a new online teaching course that will enable teachers all over Ireland to learn about how to bring the ocean into the classroom.

Presented in collaboration with the Mayo Education Centre, the online course — Exploring Ireland's Seashore through Science, Maths, Geography, English & Art — is approved for EPV (Extra Personal Vacation) certification by the Department of Education and will take around 20 hours to complete.

The online course aims to bring the ocean and seashore into the classroom via a range of specially recorded short videos with the Explorers team.

These films and associated activities are designed to guide teachers through developing their ocean literacy, planning seashore trips, exploring marine biodiversity through the existing curriculum, as well as reflecting on human impacts on the ocean and much more.

Anna Quinn, Dr Noirin Burke and Padraic Creedon of the Explorers team filming for online seashore resources and the teacher training course | Credit: Cushla Dromgool-ReganAnna Quinn, Dr Noirin Burke and Padraic Creedon of the Explorers team filming for online seashore resources and the teacher training course | Credit: Cushla Dromgool-Regan

The course runs from 4 July to 19 August. Early bird bookings cost €59 until 30 June after which the cost is €69. Further details and how to book can be found at the Mayo Education Centre website.

Speaking about the new online course, Michael McKenzie, director of the Mayo Education Centre said: “We are delighted to work with the Explorers team this year to provide an online course for teachers as part of the summer courses approved by the Department of Education and Skills. The content that the Explorers team have developed helps make the ocean as accessible as possible for teachers.”

Further information about the Explorers teachers training can be found on

Published in Marine Science
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