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8 May

Welcome to our submission for the Discover Primary Science and Maths award for 2017. This is our 12th year taking part in the Awards! Once again this year 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 3rd 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.

Yet again, a huge amount of work has gone into this. Every class in the whole school has taken part in this application, well done to all the pupils and teachers! For the fifth year in a row, we are using our blog to submit our award and to link back to our activities that have taken part during the year. Our SFI Award number this year is WW026.

Step 1: Science

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

  • Energy and Forces: 1st Class learned all about floating and sinking. They used this new information to help them make their own boats! Read all about their experiment here.
  • Living Things: 2nd Class conducted an experiment based on their bodies, focusing on their hearts and their pulse. You can read all about their experiment here.
  • Environmental Awareness and Care: 3rd Class investigated solar energy, and were very lucky with the week they chose as the sun was shining! You can read about their experiment here.
  • Materials: Senior Infants used their STEM lesson to try and help Humpty Dumpty out! Read all about their great teamwork and solutions here.
  • Environmental Awareness and Care: Junior Infants learned all about our environment and how they could help Sandy Shores. You can read all about their great work here!
  • Materials: 4th Class were experimenting with sound and materials. You can check out their fun investigation here.

Boys and girls from 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th class took part in the First Lego League again this year thanks to Mr. Kinsella and Ms. Byrne, in partnership with Salesforce. You can read all about the huge effort that went in to planning for their trip to Galway here.

You can also read all about our Space Week activites here and here!

6th Class also took part in the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition, which you can read all about here.

Step 2: Technology

In the second step, we had to ensure 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.

For example, for Space Week, we recorded a poem with a pupil from each class taking part in our podcast. You can listen to it here.

Mr. Kinsella and Ms. Byrne ran an after school club which culminated in our school taking part in the FIRST Lego League in Galway. It was a superb experience for the boys and girls which you can read about here.

Throughout all the other classes in the school, pupils of every age have also used cameras, laptops, animoto, and this blog, as well as apps such as vine and twitter, to showcase the work that they have been doing during the course of the year. As you can see from our submission this year, 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 DPSM Plaque of STEM Excellence, we have had a big focus on the Design and Make element of Science. Last year, our staff worked 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. An example of how we look to incorporate STEM into our lessons can be seen here, where Senior Infants looked to design and make ways to help Humpty Dumpty!

We include two examples of our Design and Make lessons as part of our application. As you can see from our blog post by 5th Class here, we have numerous examples of engineering taking place in our school across many classes during Engineers Week.

Step 4: Maths

Throughout our Science investigations, we incorporated Maths where possible, For example, 2nd learned about data and used charts to record their results here, and 3rd Class used mathematical skills to record their solar science experiment, which you can read about here.

Step 5: STEM Showcase

6th Class took part yet again in the BT Young Scientist Exhibition in the RDS in January this year. This year they investigated if the weather affects our learning. As always, they put a lot of effort into their submission, and presented it brilliantly on the day. You can read about their work here.

We hoped you enjoyed reading our submission!

6 May

6th Class took part in the RDS Young Scientist Fair once again. Our theme this year was our climate, specifically looking at the question of “Does weather affect our ability to learn in school?”.

After we had agreed on the theme and question for our Science presentation, we began by making our predictions. Some of the pupils thought they weather would affect us in school. For example, Leanne thought the sound of rain is very relaxing so that in turn, might help us concentrate better in class. Abbie also made the point that sometimes people get headaches when it is too hot and that it makes it hard to get your work done then.

However, not everybody agreed on this. This provoked great debate amongst the class, with Finn arguing that once curtains are closed and you have music on, you are unaware of the weather outside so how can it affect your work. Other children in the class made the point that “weather can’t get to our brains!”.

Following our class discussions we agreed that we had to conduct an experiment to try and help us come up with a scientific outcome to our question. For this, each pupil had their own learning journal for the project. They recorded what type of weather it was outside each day, recording specific details regarding the weather such as what direction the wind was blowing from. Each pupil had questions to answer for each day in their learning journal. These questions included how they felt and self-assessed the quality of their work for the day.

To gather specific information on the weather for our learning journals, we decided we needed to construct our own weather instruments. We wanted to make a rain gauge to measure the amount of rainfall each day, a barometer to measure the air pressure, a wind vane to measure what direction the wind was blowing each day, and an anemometer to measure the wind speed.

One group in the class made the rain gauge. For this they got a two litre bottle and cut off the top quarter of it. We turned the quarter of the bottle upside down and used it as a funnel for the rain water. We made sure it wasn’t blown over by the wind by putting stones in the bottom of it. We used permanent marker to mark off the different heights in centimetres along the side of the bottle.

Another group made the barometer. They took a jam jar and put a balloon over the top of it. Two straws were then sellotaped together to the balloon. A cardboard arrow was cut out and attached to the straws. As the air pressure changed in the jar, the arrow would move on the straws to show us that the air pressure had changed.

A third group made the ameometer, using a pencils and cups. It was tricky to stick them altogether. One of the cups had an “x” put on it so that we could count how many times the cups rotated in a minute in the wind. We chose a minute to help make it a fair test, to help factor in sudden gusts of wind.

The fourth and final group made a wind vane. They used a paper plate, which was labelled north, south, east and west. When the pencil blew in the wind, it showed which direction the wind was coming from.

For 2 weeks, during the months of December and January, we recorded the weather each day, along with our answers to our learning journal questions. After we had completed the two week period and had collected all of our data, our next job was to analyse it using the whole class data.

Our observations from the data recorded were that our concentration levels were found to be low on windy days. It was also found that we couldn’t release our energy on rainy days which in turn affected our learning outcomes in the classroom. A third observation was that when it was sunny, we found it hard to concentrate because some of us couldn’t wait to get outside to play!

On January 12th, we took our findings with us into the RDS Young Scientist Exhibition. Five pupils were chosen to represent the school. We had spent days doing mock interviews and presentations in school to prepare us for the busy day ahead of us. We also spent a lot of time preparing the backdrop for our stand at the Science fair which helped us display our project and our findings. We also made a Science quiz for visitors to take, to help them interact with our project.

The judges were very impressed with our research, including RTE Weather Presenter Evelyn Cusack. Ms. Cusack took our weather quiz and was the only person to get top marks on in during the day. We were delighted when she presented us with our trophy, a great reward for all the hard work put in by all the boys, girls and our teacher.


6 May

First class have been learning about summer, the beach and boats in Bray harbour. Our focus was how boats float in the water. We discussed the importance of boats as the transport of goods/people, but in order to do so the boat must float. Firstly we brainstormed the properties of making a boat. We discussed materials that would be good or bad to float and why. We linked the Titanic which sank and concluded our boats would require good construction without any holes to avoid sinking.

In order to predict we needed to understand floating and sinking so we investigated with an orange. Once placed in water it floated at first and when pealed and re-tested it sank. This led us to discuss heavy, light, shape and size.

Next we begin investigating. After measuring the blu tack to ensure we all got the same amount we begin to conduct our fair test. The pupils predicted and recorded how many peas their boat would hold before they begin to pull and stretch the material.

Some begin to focus on making pretty looking boats and even added oars. This focus on the apperance of the boat rather than size and shape led to an interesting discovery when they tested their creations.

In testing our boats we had some difficulty in getting them to float. Some just sank as soon as their passengers (peas) were added.

We took some time to re-design our boats with a focusing on floating instead of looking like a typical boat. We improved them by experimenting with different shapes and curling the sides to keep the peas on and eventually got them floating.

Each group recorded their results in a table and we compared each group’s findings to conclude our experiment.

First class really enjoyed making boats!


5 May

Senior Infants have been taking part in an after-school club based on STEM. Carl Dempsey from Salesforce has been helping out with the club and we’ve really enjoyed welcoming him to our classroom. All of the sessions were based on nursery rhymes or fairytales.

We measured this tower and it was the tallest!

Session 1 was based on Humpty Dumpty and materials. Humpty Dumpty likes to sit on high structures so we got into groups and built walls as high as we could. The walls had to stand by themselves by the end of the five minutes. We learned a lot about what makes structures sturdy – we discovered that wide bases were the key to making sure they stayed standing.

Working together!

Teamwork was a bit tricky because we all had different ideas. We had to discuss everyone’s ideas and try them out as we went. We noticed that the best structures were the ones where the team worked together!

Next, we tested the best materials to protect Humpty Dumpty from breaking when he fell. First, we had to predict the best material to protect Humpty Dumpty. Predicting is a really important skill when you’re working as a scientist!

We all discussed which one we thought would be most effective and which one we thought would be least effective. Some very interesting predictions drew on our experiences – some people mentioned that tissue paper and paper are used when a parcel is packed so that they predicted that they would protect the egg.

Discussing our work helped us to make better predictions!

Next, we had to test the best material. We learned about fair testing. The only thing we could change was the material protecting Humpty Dumpty. The same person had to drop the egg bag. We used metre sticks to ensure that the eggs weren’t dropped from different heights and the egg tester was really careful to drop the egg rather than throw it! We had started our work on length during the week so we knew how long a metre should be but the metre stick helped us to measure it exactly.

We tested each egg carefully and recorded our results on our prediction sheets. One person was the tester. Another recorded the results and another was the checker – they had to be happy with the test before the tester was allowed to drop the egg.

We were really surprised by how well the rice protected the egg. The tissue paper didn’t protect the egg well at all. We suggested that maybe if there was more of it, or if it was shredded, it might have done a better job. We were also really interested in the PlayDoh. Some of the eggs were better protected than others by the PlayDoh. We think it would be a great investigation to see if we could make a special egg case from PlayDoh in the future!

Carl from Salesforce helped us with our predictions and testing!

5 May

This week, in Junior Infants, we met a whale named Sally, who lives in the sea beside a lovely village called Sandy Shores. We asked Sally lots of questions about Sandy Shores and made predictions about what she might like to play, eat and do for fun!

She was very upset the second time she came to visit us, however, because Sandy Shores had developed a terrible litter problem. Her home was getting polluted with lots of rubbish and this made her feel very sad.

Luckily, Junior Infants are experts at dealing with rubbish and looking after the environment. The Lord Mayor of Sandy Shores heard that Junior Infants were experts and sent them a letter, asking them to please help. They spoke with each other and recorded what they felt they needed to do to help the Lord Mayor, Sally and all in Sandy Shores.

Junior Infants went into role as ‘Superhelpers’ named ‘The Litter Busters’ and went to Sandy Shores to tidy up the rubbish.

Some children were leaders. They wore a high vis jacket and their job was to make sure all the Litter Busters were doing their bit to look after the environment at Sandy Shores.

Other children had grabbers. They used these to grab litter from the sea in which Sally the whale lives.

Fia, Reece, Oisin and Amber had a wonderful idea! They decided that they needed to build some bins in Sandy Shores so that this problem wouldn’t arise again.

Kaiden and Ella were very busy sorting the rubbish into the correct bins. Reece, Aaron and Tyler worked hard on sorting the fruit they found into different sets. They then counted how many of each fruit they found.

The Litter Busters thought that it would be important to make posters to make sure that the villagers from Sandy Shores would be able to learn that it is not ok to to litter their streets, beach and waters. The Litter Busters, in pairs, created wonderful posters showing the villagers of Sandy Shores how to take care of their rubbish. They then presented them to the class.

Junior Infants made the Lord Mayor and Sally very happy with they work they did to restore Sandy Shores and teach the villagers how to look after this picturesque village, from here on out!

Well done Junior Infants!

5 May

2nd class have been learning all about our bodies in science.

After chatting in our pairs about what we thought our hearts did, we then examined our wrists to find veins.

Some of us thought they were blue, some purple and some green. When we held them over our heads for a minute they started to feel cold and numb. We thought maybe that’s because it was harder for the blood to get to it when it was up so high.

Then we looked at finding our pulses. Some of us had seen in movies how doctors and medics check pulses, but we had never done it ourselves. We found that we couldn’t use our thumbs because they had their own sort of pulse which was just too confusing!

When we were able to find our pulse, we worked in partners to count it. A very clever girl in our class suggested that we could find out how many there were in a minute by counting how many there were in 30 seconds and then doubling that amount. We’re pretty good at doubling big numbers, so we gave it a go.

Sometimes it was hard to find so we thought about where else we might feel the blood pumping around our bodies too.

After we we had recorded our ‘resting heart rate’, we worked in groups to brainstorm how our heart rate might speed up or slow down. We thought maybe sleeping, resting or sitting for a while would keep it slow. We also thought that activities like football, running, eating, talking lots and dancing would speed it up. So we moved outside on this beautiful sunny day to do some exercise!

After 2 big running laps and a few star jumps, we counted our pulse again for 30 seconds and doubled it to find our heart rate for 1 minute.

We were amazed to find how much faster it was. We noticed that we had to count a lot quicker! We went inside and 5 minutes later we checked our pulses again and they were much closer to our original resting pulse.

We then graphed our results using bar charts. We looked at our results and found that the middle bar was much higher and then it went back down after exercise.

We thought it was funny how some of us hadn’t gone down to the exact same heart rate as we started with. We had two thoughts about this, firstly maybe we weren’t counting exactly right and secondly, maybe that meant we weren’t as fit as we should be! We asked Ms. Boland if that meant we should do more P.E. everyday!

Our conclusion was that exercise increases heart rate. We thought maybe the rest of our body needed more blood to help it when it was busy!

5 May

3rd class took a look at solar energy as a renewable energy source.  What a week we picked!

We designed plans for solar powered cars.

We discussed ways of measuring solar power and we conducted a water heating experiment.  We made use of two butter cartons, some cling film, thermometers, a graduated cylinder and some water.


For a fair test we ensured the holes at the top of the contaoners were equal. This made sure that equal sunlight was getting into each container.

We placed cling film around the holes to prevent wind chill from affecting out measures.

We measured our water carefully to ensure our test was fair.

We then placed the lid on our containers before placing one in the sun and one in the shade.  

We made some predictions on the temperatures the water would be in each container after each hour.

Here are some of our guesses.

We plotted graphs to show these predictions. Lots of different ideas!

Sean using the thermometer. We found that it was important to hold the thermometer bulb in the water for 3-5 minutes until the measure stabilised.

We recorded our data and graphed out the comparison.

Amalia did a great comparison graph showing the contaoner kept in the sunshine in blue and the container in the shade in purple.

5 May

4th Class have been exploring, experimenting and questioning themselves all about sound.  We began by brainstorming the word ‘sound’. Ideas were flowing from pitch, to how it travels, to music and instruments all the way to vibrations.

The ukulele was also mentioned as we are learning the instrument, at the moment. Hence, came the idea to make music, so we put our minds to it and made our version of a guitar. Plastic containers, elastic bands, glass and water. We tested the plastic containers with the elastic bands…..straightaway the kids were making music. The sound being created by the vibration of the band.

We tested the sound of the plastic container versus the sound of the glass jar. The difference!!! Then we added water to both to see if there were any differences.

“Sounds that really annoy us” cropped up and what we can do to stop it. Hmmmm let’s investigate, we thought!!!!

There were lots of sounds that annoy us.

Our group work established many ways in which to stop the annoying sounds.

Questions arose “Can sound travel through solids? What about liquids?”.

We asked how can we reduce the noise…. Different materials, let’s see.

Challenge: Devise different ways to reduce the volume of a sound using different materials. We predicted which sounds would absorb the sound best…. Our thoughts were…..


Tadhg’s sheet clearly shows the groups ideas.

The class made sure they performed a fair test, found a quieter spot and tested all their ideas in the same spot.

They also described the materials they used.

“What if we cover the thing we think that makes the noise???”

Amazing, what a suggestion!

The children deliberated over many suggestions and finally came to a conclusion to test, putting the phone in a box, covering the phone with a jumper and wrapping it in bubble wrap!  A clear winner was the box, absorbed the sound.  Great investigation skills portrayed in 4th class alongside, fabulous learning and lots of fun!

What works best?!?! Here are our results!

5 May

We measured using metre strips for accuracy around the windy track.

In total the length of the rollercoaster was 3 metres and 28 cm.  It took the ball between 30 and 40 seconds to reach the bottom once released.

We had great fun with this!

5 May

3rd class recycled rolercoaster

Made using only recycled materials. This rollercoaster has been a working progress over the past month.

The children faced many challenges in this construction.  Measuring lengths and widths of tracks and also experimenting with different heights to ensure the ball would have enough momentum to make its way down to the bottom.

We found that using skewers for support was important.  We also had lots of problem solving in areas where the ball was stopping or falling off the track.

Estimation of the track length