In recent years, a particular emphasis has been placed on improving the quality of education in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), highlighting the importance of STEM disciplines in the 21st century.
“They empower our citizens in so many important ways. Science and Mathematics provide answers to the fundamental questions of nature and enable us to understand the world around us. Expertise in STEM disciplines is necessary to drive our economic ambitions, support innovation and provide the foundations for future prosperity.”
The newly established School Excellence Fund encourages collaboration in the use of digital technology, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths), leadership and creativity. It is a very exciting initiative allowing schools and teachers the opportunity to work together and share good practices while focusing on developing the important skills that our children will need to thrive in the future.
Our local partners for this project are:
Blennerville National School, Tralee
The name of our cluster is STEM Kerry.
It involves hands-on learning and is pupil-driven, using up-to-date technology. Children will become developers, creators and change makers of technology. Resources allow for quality, hands-on teaching and learning for example K’nex, Magformers, iPads etc.
The project encourages us to build external partnerships for example we have linked up with Liebherr. Liebherr manufacture components for many transportation devices e.g. cranes, trains, farm machinery, as well as for the wind, energy and agricultural industry. Children get the opportunity to see the diversity of STEM careers in the local community. We have also connected with Farranfore Train station, Kerry airport and Killarney Fire station. The project integrates real life situations with technology and children gain a greater knowledge and understanding of engineering.
As well as learning in school children will also be involved in outreach programmes of learning. We are building sustainable partnerships with Third Level (Mary Immaculate College, Limerick and Institute of Technology, Tralee). Students from all levels will work together on a shared learning experience.
We are being supported by the Education Centre Tralee, Department of Education and other educational networks.
We are using LEGO DUPLO Education solutions for early learning in the Infants classes. We use a play based approach to open up the world of early math, science and language skills. Hands-on explorations using the colourful LEGO DUPLO bricks ignites natural curiosity and fosters a love of discovery and investigation.
We also use Bee-bots which are programmable floor robots. These are suitable for all classes and are integrated into curriculum areas such as Literacy, Science and Numeracy through a multitude of activities.
We have introduced the children from Second class upwards to LEGO WeDo 2.0. This is a hands on STEM solution that combines the LEGO brick, classroom-friendly software, engaging standards-based projects and discovery based approach. The sets are designed with collaboration in mind. LEGO We Do 2.0 makes primary school science and computing come to life through real-world projects. The children will be empowered to ask the right questions, define problems and design their own solutions.
We are very lucky to have a fantastic cohort of parents at Firies National School. If you can think of any way you would like to contribute to this project please contact the school.
If you have access to a smart device your child can also work on these at home.
You can find more information, photographs and videos in relation to our project on the clusters website http://sites.google.com/view/stemkerry
You can also follow our project on Twitter @kerry_stem