Students from 4th class at Cregmore national school recently visited the research vessel RV Celtic Explorer as part of their marine-science and art project building up to SeaFest, Ireland’s national maritime festival. The project places art, marine science and technology in the heart of the classroom where the students have been learning about marine life and activity under the sea for the past six months. It involves TULCA in partnership with Marine Institute Explorers Education Programme, artist Louise Manifold, marine scientist Dr. Andy Wheeler, and Cregmore National School.
While on board the RV Celtic Explorer up to 20 of the 4th class students experienced what it might be like to participate in an expedition at sea, as well as witness first hand some of the equipment used in deep sea exploration. During the tour, led by Rosemarie Butler and Cushla Dromgool-Regan of the Marine Institute, the children learned about the recent climate survey of the mid-Atlantic and met with deep sea marine scientist Louise Allcock who is studying cold water corals and sponges off the Irish continental shelf. The students were also introduced to ROV operations manager Paddy O’Driscoll where they got a chance to see a live demonstration of how parts of the ROV Holland I work.
Speaking about their experiences some of the children from Cregmore National School said, ‘The Celtic Explorer trip was amazing. My favourite part was the dry lab, where scientists collect mapping data from the ocean. I would love to become a marine scientist. I really enjoyed meeting the scientists as they were so kind and nice. We held samples of coral that were really spiky. I enjoyed the trip and learning about the ocean.’ Éabha Woods, age 10
‘Seeing the Celtic Explorer was amazing! In the Wet Lab, we held a sample of bottled water dated 450 years old and extremely valuable! There was coral there too. It was very hairy and spiky! The ROV was my favourite part’, Ciara Kelly, age 10.
Learning about deep-sea hydrothermal vents as part of their marine science – art project in class, the children were shown how the remotely operated vessel captured filming of the vents when it was at sea and how it is deployed to go to depths of 3,000 metres under the sea. O’Driscoll also demonstrated how the ROV uses two robotic arms and pincers to collect specimens that scientists can later analyse in the laboratory on land.
‘Our trip to the Celtic Explorer was very exciting as we are doing a project with the Marine Institute. My favourite part of the tour was holding the bottle of water that was dated at 450 years old. The ROV was very interesting. Its arms moved and it had a drawer that it puts the samples in. I love working on this project as I have learned so much!’ — Sarah Kelly, age 10
‘I really enjoyed our trip to the Celtic Explorer. It was amazing to see the ROV Holland in action. I also got to sit in the Captain’s seat! There were so many cool buttons and great views in the bridge. It was a great day.’ — Ciara Morgan, age 10
Speaking about the marine science – art project, Cushla Dromgool-Regan said, “One of the key objectives of the Marine Institute is to share our knowledge and increase awareness about the value and opportunities the ocean provides us. The enthusiasm the children showed about the ocean during their tour of the Celtic Explorer highlighted the importance of how school projects adopting different disciplines can be used in class in a very real and exciting way. The children’s high level of understanding about the ocean gained through the art and marine science project, where they discussed the geology of the ocean floor, concepts of climate change, along with deep sea creatures rarely seen by humans is a testament to the artists, scientists and teachers involved.”
The end project produced by the Cregmore 4th class will be a combination of the real and the imaginary. Interpreting scientific fact through an artistic process the children are creating a film which will be premiered at Seafest 2017. Entitled Build Your Own Unknown, the film re-creates the epic journey, discovering hydrothermal vents in the Atlantic Ocean, using processes intrinsic to the artist’s practice. The movie will be presented in the Kids Zone during SeaFest; and afterwards at various education outreach centres around Ireland.
The Marine Institute’s research vessel RV Celtic Explorer, along with a number of other ships will be at Seafest where free tours are available. Seafest is Ireland’s national maritime festival, which takes place in Galway on Friday June 30 to Sunday 2nd of July.
The Explorers Education Programme is supported by the Marine Institute, and funded under the Marine Research Programme by the Irish Government.