Scoil Chaitriona Junior School in Renmore today played host to a visit from a member of the prestigious Discover Primary Science & Maths Excellence Squad to celebrate their involvement in the DPSM Awards of Science and Maths Excellence. 2014 marks the 10th anniversary of the awards and to celebrate a panel of Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) scientists are capturing the imagination of primary school pupils around the country during visits to a number of lucky schools.
Sarah Gundy, Project Officer at the Network of Excellence for Functional Biomaterials at NUI Galway, today introduced the pupils of Scoil Chaitriona to the concepts of anatomy, physiology, and disease of the heart through a series of hands-on activities. Pupils acted as tissue engineers to fix heart shaped cookies using various decorations. Icing of differing colours was used to represent the types of scaffold materials available, and marshmallows and sprinkles were used to represent components that can be added to enhance scaffolds such as medicine and cells.
Speaking at Scoil Chaitriona, Sarah Gundy said, “I’m delighted to have the opportunity to visit Scoil Chaitriona today to introduce pupils to our work on tissue engineered scaffolds. It is so encouraging to see children and teachers genuinely engaged with and enjoying science and maths. By sparking children’s interest in these subjects at an early age, they are enthused to engage with science and maths as they grow older which may lead them to explore the possibility of a career in these areas in the future.”
Jane McLoughlin, DPSM Coordinator at Scoil Chaitriona Junior School said, “The DPSM programme develops children’s confidence and enthusiasm for science and maths. The concepts are broken down into manageable activities that facilitate learning in an enjoyable manner. Over the last number of years, the Award of Science and Maths Excellence has given us something to work towards as a school and there is a real sense of achievement in meeting the criteria to achieve the award while also engaging in fun practical activities which help the children to gain an understanding of the world around them.”
The Awards of Science and Maths Excellence are awarded to schools who present evidence of meeting five criteria which encourage a whole school approach to the Discover Primary Science and Maths (DPSM) programme over the course of the school year. SFI hopes to present awards to over 500 schools this year. Hundreds of schools around the country are already participating in Greenwave, a nationwide project to track the arrival of spring, and in doing so are meeting one of the award criteria. Evidence of the completion of the five criteria is recorded in a log book and submitted to Discover Primary Science & Maths in May.
Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland said, “We expect to present DPSM Awards of Science and Maths Excellence to over 500 primary schools this year and it is encouraging to see how the DPSM programme has grown since it was first introduced in 2003. Through their involvement in the initiative, primary school pupils are gaining an appreciation of the fundamental importance of science and maths in our everyday lives. The quality of work being done by the schools involved is outstanding and we are delighted to be able to acknowledge some of that work with visits from the Discover Science & Maths Excellence Squad.”