Winning School Profiles.
Courtenay School, Gortboy, Newcastle, Co. Limerick
Courtenay School are currently on their 9th award. Geraldine Meaney discusses their experience with the awards so far. They first got involved in the awards because 'We wanted to raise the profile of Science and Maths in the school. We felt it would be very beneficial if teachers and pupils were rewarded for their work in Science and Maths'. Since entering, their approach to science teaching has changed. 'The children are more involved and there is less emphasis on books and copies. Recording the activities is mainly through photographs. The hands on activities are the most enjoyable and the ones the children learn most from. All children partake regardless of academic ability. Paper helicopters is their favourite because the children assemble the helicopters themselves and they have great fun figuring out how to get them to spin faster or how to slow it down. They love Dancing Raisins because it is so visual. All classes are involved now. About half the school was involved initially but when they saw the enjoyment to be gained, the other classes were very happy to partake.'
Courtenay School have also engaged with external resources to both, meet criteria for the awards and to help broaden the student's ideas about STEM. Scott Ziglinski is an engineer and he has covered activities from all the strands over the years. Geoff Hunt is their local Bird Watch enthusiast. He has taken classes to examine wildflowers and insects in the school courtyard and in the local demesne. As part of the programme they have gone on trips to the Demesne, the River Arra and to University of Limerick. Sixth class visited the R.D.S. and took part in the Young Scientists Exhibition. They have also held their own Science Show in their school. Geraldine explains that 'each class was allocated a table where they could demonstrate their activity and answer questions. Representatives from each class manned their table for the day. Each class got a time allocated to them when they could visit the Science Fair. The local school community and parents and all pupils attended.' They have also arranged school tours to two of our Discover Centre’s including Tralee Bog Wetlands and Killarney National Park, and describes both of them as 'excellent'.
Geraldine registers the school for Discover Science and Maths each year and assembles the log for Discover Primary Science but states that 'it is very much a whole school effort.'
Top tips for success in the SFI Discover Science and Maths Awards:
- Get as many classes involved as possible.
- Plan well in advance.
- Discuss the activities with the teachers and ensure all four strands are covered.
- Ensure all necessary resources are available.
She also adds that by entering the awards ‘It highlights the school’s participation in Science and Maths and the award reflects the school’s efforts. It gives a good structure to these subjects. It is a collaborative effort with all pupils and all teachers involved. Science and Maths become fun subjects!’