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31 May

Discover Primary Science and Maths 2021 Application

Welcome to our submission for the Discover Primary Science and Maths award for 2021. This is our 16th year taking part in the Awards, although this school year has been a little different! Once again, we are applying for the Plaque of STEM Excellence. This award is given to schools that carry out extensive work in science, technology, engineering and maths, all of which are very important in St. Peter’s.

This is the 7th year that we have had Junior and Senior Infants taking part in the award! It is great to see the young scientists have so much fun learning about science and maths. Each year we try to put an even bigger focus on STEM across the school, with a whole school approach helping us achieve even more in this area. This has also meant, due to current circumstances, that we have broadened our scope to encourage STEM at home, which has been both challenging and exciting.

You can read all about it and see the evidence below. It has been great to see the improvements we can make towards helping our school incorporating STEM as a way of thinking, rather than as a stand-alone subject.

All of the pupils are seeing that STEM is about the skills required to learn science, technology and mathematics, and how engineering and design processes and principles are used to achieve an outcome. As students of STEM, we identify a problem. We then need to create possible solutions to the problems, which we can then go and test.

Yet again, a huge amount of work has gone into this application. Every single class in the whole school has taken part, so a big well done to all the pupils and teachers! For the ninth year in a row, we are using our blog to submit our award and to link back to our activities that have taken place during the year.

Step 1: Science

For this step, we carried out hands-on science investigations under the four different strands in classes throughout the school, and home. We also tried to include maths in these investigations where possible, linking in with Step 4.

  • Energy and Forces: This is always a popular strand as it really excites the children with fun experiments to engage in. Check out the Balloon Rockets and rockets made by 3rd class as part of science week, learn about space, catapults and parachutes with 2nd class or floating and sinking with 1st class.
  • Living Things: Being situated in a coastal town in the Garden of Ireland class love to learn about the sea and nature. Here 5th class looked at the Sea Creatures and the importance of keeping our seas safe from pollution and plastics while Senior Infants learned all about flowers and caterpillars and gardening with their Aistear theme of the Garden Centre.
  • Environmental Awareness and Care:  

Learning all about environmental care 5th class looked at oil pollution and experimented to see which materials are more absorbent for cleaning oil. Ms. Kane’s class looked at Eco Racers and designed fuel-less cars to see how far they could travel.

  • Materials and Change: 

Junior Infants used magnets to explore materials that are magnetic. 3rd Class Mummified Tomatoes while learning about Egypt and during school closures Ms. Lohan set whole school STEM challenges. One of our favourites was making Homemade Ice-Cream.

We love an opportunity to undertake STEM projects and were lucky enough to undertake a number of Science projects before school closures this year. 6th Class took part in Reelife Science and produced the film Nettles. All classes took part in Science Week including Ms. Kane’s Class learning all about coronavirus and won an ESB Curiosity Box. 5th Class took on a Space theme and 4th class looked at transport and hot air balloons

Step 2: Technology

The second step in the application is ensuring that technology was used by our pupils. As a previous winner of the Junior Spider Awards, technology has become a part of every-day life in St. Peter’s. We were also awarded the Digital School of Distinction award, which showcased the effort and time we put in incorporating technology into our daily school lives.

We believe this is true for children at all levels. Mr. Kinsella’s Junior Infant class have been have loved early programming activities with Beebots while Ms. Wemyss’ 5th class have been using Lego Wedo a lot this year. They have loved getting to play with the kits and programming them and engaging with the interactive lessons using the Lego Wedo software. You can read all about their engagement with designing, building and coding the Lego Wedo robots or building snow ploughs to clear marshmallow snow.

We see the importance of integrating technology across the curriculum with pupils using cameras, tablets, animoto, and the blog, as well as apps such as Class Dojo and Twitter, to showcase the work that they have been doing during the course of the year. Some examples include Kahoot Quizzes, researching projects, and target boards in Maths.

With using technology regularly we recognise the importance of online safety and marked this when we celebrated Safer Internet Day through home learning this year.

As you can see from our submission, we have continued to implement technology in our day-to-day teaching and learning, even at home, with maths and science at the forefront of this. You can check out all of our tweets from the year @stpetersbray!

Step 3: Engineering

For the third step of our application for the DPSM Plaque of STEM Excellence, we have had a big focus on the Design and Make element of science. Our staff have worked previously in conjunction with St. Patrick’s College regarding professional development in STEM. A big part of this focused on the Design and Make process, and helped us make sure STEM was an integral part of our engineering activities.

We like to start our engineers early and Ms. Conway’s Senior Infants began with building Lego Castles this year. Ms. Meaney’s 1st class designed and built their own dog kennels. 2nd Class made and raced their own Rubber Band Racers. 3rd class tried their own engineering challenges too and constructed their own biscuit houses biscuit houses and Knex Rockets and we were very excited that while exploring the theme of space Ms. Kane’s class tweeted about building their Robot Arm which was liked by Commander Chris Hadfield.

Step 4: Maths

Throughout our Science investigations, all classes looked to incorporate Maths as much as possible and like opportunities to explore concepts in a fun way like celebrating Maths Week in the school. Here Junior Infants used patterns to colour their own  Snakes and Ladders game and made Paper Aeroplanes with the help of Maths TV.

We love the chance to explore real world Maths whenever we can and one example of this is baking in Ms. Kane’s class focusing on measuring ingredients and timing their dishes.

With department recommendations this year of using open spaces and getting out of the classroom when possible, classes took advantage of this with 2D Shape Hunt in Senior Infants, outdoor patterns in Ms. Cronin’s 2nd class and a Maths Hunt in 1st Class.

Integrating technology with maths is an important skill and application of this can be seen by 5th Class using tablets to work out their Black Friday discounts on class Dojo prizes.

Step 5: STEM Showcase

As a school we know how important it is for students to present their work to an audience, especially with all the hard work put into STEM initiatives by pupils and staff. We always love taking part in initiatives like Science Blast and were featured in April last year on RTE’s Nationwide Programme to discuss our history of engagement with primary science events through the RDS. This gave us a chance to showcase a couple of strategies we use to promote STEM throughout the school. Typically, classes present their learning during Assembly or at our own showcases but this year was obviously a little different.

Learning from home has challenged us to come up with new ways of using technology to assist distant learning for our pupils. Class used Study Ladder to set online science tasks for pupils and Ms. Lohan set whole school STEM challenges through our school blo such as looking at Magic using pressure with students sending in their own results  or featuring walking paper animals with some fun pupil designs.

We couldn’t include all our STEM activities as our teachers and pupils work so hard throughout the year on this but we hope you enjoyed reading a few examples from our submission for the SFI Discover Primary Science and Maths Award!

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