A new science toolkit designed to teach children about environmental science will be distributed to 300 classrooms throughout Ireland. Launched during the 2018 Science Week at Scoil Iosef Naofa in Oranmore, the free educational toolkit ‘Spikey’s Journey: an Exploration Box’ is the culmination of a two year-long European project developed in Ireland by NUI Galway Cell EXLORERS, ProActivate Ireland, and Toodlelou Creativity Lab.
Using a hedgehog called Spikey as the principal character, the toolkit takes first and second class pupils on an explorative journey using storytelling, hands-on activities, and games to learn about four key topics in environmental science. The primary aim of the toolkit is to promote active learning based on observation and experimentation.
The exploration box contains a ‘Kamishibai’, a storytelling theatre that teachers can use to take their class through Spikey's story. Each chapter of the story introduces students to a new learning topic, such as understanding the key characteristics of living things, the food web and how it functions, habitats and hibernation, and the vital role we all play in protecting the living environment. Through hands-on projects, activities, and games, these topics are explored, discussed, and examined to reinforce new learning.
“This project was a great opportunity to collaborate with some of the most successful and innovative science outreach programmes in Europe as well as with enthusiastic teachers from local national schools," said Muriel Grenon, director of the Cell EXPLORERS programme at NUI Galway. "There was a rich exchange of practical knowledge and experience, and from this collaboration emerged a freely accessible online resource which can benefit the children in Ireland.”
Classrooms throughout Ireland will benefit from the development of this kit containing a new combination of teaching methods and tools to support primary school teachers in preparing and conducting engaging science lessons that will stimulate children’s natural curiosity. Teachers across four European countries have been invited to use this toolkit, which is the result of an Erasmus+ European project linking researchers and education practitioners from Ireland, the United Kingdom, Austria, and Poland. The toolkit has been produced in three languages for dissemination in each project country.
The contents of the exploration box and its activities were reviewed and piloted in Galway by first and second class teachers Ronan Dunne from Galway Educate Together, Vivienne Kelly from Knocknacara Educate Together, Anna McGuire from Mercy Primary School, and Niamh Cormican from Scoil Iosef Naofa, Oranmore.
The toolkit will be distributed nationally to requesting teachers through the Galway Education Centre as well as education centres located in Donegal, Dublin west, Wexford, Monaghan, Navan, Tralee, and Clare.
“This is a fantastic resource for primary schools so that pupils can learn about environmental science in an interactive way," said Mark Finlay, director of Galway Education Centre. "We in Galway Education Centre are delighted to be able to share the toolkit with our local schools.”
Teachers who use the toolkit in their classrooms can share their feedback and comments through Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram using #spikeysjourney and tagging @cellexplorers and @toodleloukids.
Schools who wish to use the toolkit as part of their application for a Science Foundation Ireland Discover Science and Maths (DPSM ) Award can provide images and feedback by social media, which will be posted to the Spikey’s Journey page of the Cell EXPLORERS website at www.cellexplorers.com/spikeysjourney This link can then be used as a log of evidence for the award application.
For further information on the InEdu Erasmus plus project material and access to the Spikey’s Journey online toolkit log on to the resource website bit.ly/Spikeysjourney