Primary schoolers and Ireland’s science and maths drive

12 Mar 2012

At the launch of the 2012 Discover Primary Science and Maths programme are students from Our Lady Of Victories National School, Ballymun. (From left) Laura O'Toole, Lorcán Cahill, Hannah Ryan Murphy and Jamie Kennedy

The Irish Government’s Discover Science and Engineering initiative is calling for all national primary schools to register for its 2012 maths and science awards programme.

In 2011, 472 primary schools from across Ireland entered the Discover Primary Science and Maths programme, but especially with Dublin being European City of Science this year, the aim is to inspire more students from an earlier age to delve into the STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) areas.

Schools that register on the Discover Primary Science and Maths programme can subsequently apply for an Award of Science and Maths Excellence after they meet certain criteria.

So how can schools go about entering the awards? Dr Graham Love, director, Discover Science and Engineering (DSE), said that to qualify, schools must keep a log of the science and maths-related activities they have undertaken throughout the year.

Schools will get credits for visiting Discover Science Centres, for inviting speakers to the school to talk about science and maths and for showcasing their work and other explorative activities.  

Credits will also be awarded for taking part in other DSE programmes, such as the Greenwave mass science project that tracks the arrival of spring across Ireland, as well as completing activities related to the annual Science Week.

Love said a lot of the steps within the programme conform with the primary science curriculum.

And for this year’s awards, DSE will be partnering with Abbott. The healthcare company will sponsor science equipment vouchers for 60 schools, randomly picked from those that achieve an award.

Love spoke this morning at the awards launch about how it is vital that children in Ireland are inspired at a young age to embrace and appreciate science and maths.

“These children will be the future scientists, mathematicians and engineers that our economy today craves,” he said.

Research and Innovation Minister Sean Sherlock, TD, was also at the launch of the awards this morning. He spoke about how the growth of the STEM subjects is extremely important for the recovery of Ireland’s economy.

“Initiatives such as the Discover Primary Science and Maths Awards offer our children an engaging platform to kick start this growth and interest and I encourage as many schools as possible to get involved with this fun and exciting project,” he said.

Schools have until 24 March to submit their intention to apply for the awards. Logbooks must be with the Discover Primary Science and Maths office by 27 April, DSE confirmed this morning.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic