A Proud History of Nature Activities in Galway Schools
The teachers, children and teenagers of Galway city have been the flagbearer for projects related to environmental awareness and biodiversity enhancement for many decades. The field trip to the local seashore, park and river is part of the educational experience for both primary pupils and secondary students as is a visit to Galway Atlantaquaria (Ireland’s National Aquarium) and St. Bridget’s Garden, maintaining an organic vegetable and fruit patch, planting trees and studying the life cycle of flora and fauna species or an ecosystem. On one Saturday during September 2000, over 1500 children, parents and teachers planted the first wildflower bulbs in Terryland Forest Park.
In January 2002, the Galway Education Centre rolled out the ‘Fionn’ project to 32 Galway city and county schools, a government-funded programme to prepare teachers for the introduction of science into the Irish primary curriculum in September 2004. Science as a subject had been withdrawn from primary schools to be replaced by the Irish language in the early years of the Irish Free State.
Galway was taking the lead in its re-introduction which represented a major nationwide restructuring of Irish education. Each of the participating schools were provided with a laptop, a high speed (ISDN) Internet line, movie equipment and movie production training in order to make a series of child-centric videos every year for four years related to science and technology but taking in other aspects of the school curriculum such as languages, music, history, geography and art.
A supportive directory of external local scientific, technology and engineering experts was drawn up of volunteers from Galway Atlantaquaria, GMIT and NUI Galway and the Western Regional Board who were willing to make themselves available to help schools with their Fionn film projects.
These films became invaluable online learning resources for many schools across Ireland over a number of years at a time when suitable quality web content was limited especially that which was co-produced by young people themselves. Many of these films had environmental and ecology themes.
Here are two examples of the top quality films made by these children two decades ago.