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23 Mar

Welcome to our submission for the Curious Minds (previously the Discover Primary Science and Maths) Award for 2023. This is our 18th year taking part in the awards, 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 9th 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 a big 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 these 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 school has taken part, so a big well done to all the pupils and teachers! For the eleventh year, 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. We also tried to include numeracy 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. There are lots of experiments on show this year but just for a taste here is 3rd Class Rockets , Junior Infant Magnets and 4th Class trying to figure out how to Balance a Lever

Living Things: 

  • Living things is always a strand we like to sink our teeth into and this year 3rd class were no different learning about Teeth . If that didn’t get your pulses racing may 6th classes exercise and Heart Rate study will. When you have a chance to catch your breath find out how much 5th class learned about the Lungs.

Environmental Awareness and Care:  

Materials and Change: 

We love a chance to undertake whole school STEM projects and although curtailed the last couple of years we are delighted to be able to get back to taking part in various projects. Check out all of our Science Week activities on our blog!

Step 2: Technology

The second step in the application is Technology. Ensuring that ICT is used by our pupils and/or product design using materials (using different materials for design and make projects).

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 loved early programming activities with beebots and getting to use the school tablets. Check out how we use IT in Infants.

Programming continues in older classes who have been using Lego Wedo. They have loved getting to play with the kits and programming them and engaging with the interactive lessons using the Lego Wedo software.

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. We use our blog weekly to set challenges as Gaeilge for classes with Frasaí na Seachtaine.

Integrating technology into our numeracy can make it more engaging for pupils, here 6th class used zoom to take part in a Zoom Maths Quiz, while 5th class have been using their interactive whiteboard to explore and create patterns.

As you can see from our submission, we have continued to implement technology in our day-to-day teaching and learning, 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 Curious Minds 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 is an integral part of our engineering activities.

Design and Make Projects are always popular. Ms. Muldowney’s 5th class didn’t need much persuading to design and make Gingerbread Houses, while Ms. Meaney’s 4th Class took the theme of the Olympics and made it miniature with their Olympic Table Top Games.

We love to get parents involved in their children’s learning and we were delighted with the results of the Senior Infants Space Project.

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 4th Class used Maths Week to learn about capacity, word problems and lines and angles.

We loved the resource available to school for Maths week and Ms. Lohan’s 3rd class really loved Maths Week TV.

All classes had fun engaging in Maths week and the infants are no exception with some examples here from Ms. Roche’s Class taking part in Maths Week and Mr. Kinsella’s class enjoying number runs and chalk drawings.

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 this year has been no different with 6th Class taking on the Science Blast Challenge link.

Typically, classes present their learning during Assembly or at our own showcases but these last couple of years have obviously been a challenge mixing groups. That didn’t stop teachers highlighting some of the great work pupils are doing through our School Blog and twitter and we were delighted with 4th class were able to take part in the Intel Mini Scientist Competition and were able to hold a science fair to show off all the work they put in for this years’ event.

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 Curious Minds Awards!

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