Up to 100 primary school teachers from Galway, Kerry, Waterford, and Dublin took to the beaches in the first week of July (1st – 5th), joining the wave of formal educators around the country keen to introduce marine themes onto the Irish primary school curriculum.
Dr Peter Heffernan, CEO of the Marine Institute welcomed the significant expansion of the Explorers teachers training involving education centres and teachers across the country. "This is a significant achievement for the Explorers Education programme the aim of which is to build on Ireland's marine and maritime heritage by increasing awareness of the value, opportunities and social benefits of our ocean wealth and identity. Working with the regional Education Centres and building long-lasting networks with teachers is key to inspiring a new generation of ocean champions and creating a community of ocean advocates."
As part of the expansion of the Explorers Education Programme, Mr Bernard Kirk, CEO Camden Education Trust, who have been appointed to manage the programme on behalf of the Marine Institute, congratulated the Explorers teams and the Education Centres who have recently carried out the teachers Explorers training courses around the country. "Seeing more and more teachers from all over Ireland interested in teaching marine on the primary school curriculum, is encouraging in the efforts to mainstream marine education. Teachers are an incredible source of inspiration for children and stepping outside the classroom highlights the importance of going to the seashore to learn about our ocean is key to understanding our natural environment," said Mr Kirk.
"The outdoor environment particularly on the seashore provides children and teachers the space to develop problem-solving skills as well as opportunities to nurture their creativity, imagination, inventiveness and resourcefulness. Exploring sand dunes to rock pools, finding living things in their natural environment, to creating art pieces from flotsam and jetsam are many of the things that give teachers and children a very unique opportunity to have contact with the natural world on the seashore," he said.
Now running for nearly 15 years in Galway, the Explorers Education Programme team, founded and supported by the Marine Institute have provided teachers with opportunities to learn about their local seashore through thematic learning. Cushla Dromgool-Regan, Explorers Education Programme Manager explained, "as an island nation, the ocean provides Ireland with an incredible resource that is at the heart of our heritage and culture."
With this in mind, the teachers training course now reaching another three counties in Ireland, has been further developed with a particular emphasis on providing teachers with new ideas for developing cross curricular marine skills in STEM subjects as well as geography, history, English, arts, drama, music and PE.
"Facilitated by the Explorers Education Programme outreach teams, one of the successful outcomes of the Explorers teachers training course is seeing teachers really enjoying the time and space to share their ideas and being inspired on how the marine can be used across the curriculum in thematic learning," Ms Dromgool-Regan said.
The Exploring the Seashore courses, approved by the DES were organised by Galway Education Centre, Tralee Education Centre, Blackrock Education Centre, and Waterford Education Centre. The Explorers Education Programme teachers training course was organised and facilitated by the Explorers team and guests including: Dr Noirin Burke, Anna Quinn and Amanda Egan, Galway Atlantaquaria; Eleanor Turner and Rebecca White Murphy, Sea Synergy Marine Awareness Centre; Glen Power - Oceanics Surf School and Gavin Bettlestone - Leave No Trace; Padriac Creedan from Galway Atlantaquaria and John Joyce, Spin Drift Press.
The Explorers Education Programme is funded by the Marine Institute and managed on their behalf, by Camden Education Trust. For further information see www.explorers.ie