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Thursday, January 11, 2018

It's elementary: primary pupils explore the science of life | Independent.ie - Going to College

Photo: Katherine Donnelly
An annual science fair for fourth to sixth classes has almost quadrupled in size, writes Katherine Donnelly, Correspondent at Irish Independent.

Molly Smith, Sheelagh O’Donovan and India Spillane from OurLady of Mercy NS Bantry, Co Cork, working on their Pendulums: Time Flies! project.
Photo: Emma Jervis Photography

Does the weight of a hurley impact the length of the strike?

Sixth-class pupils in a Co Galway national school have worked out the answer to what must be one of the most pressing questions in the county that carried off the honours in last year's All-Ireland hurling final, after a 29-year famine.

Generously, the pupils of Scoil Éanna, Bullaun, Loughrea, will share their findings at the annual RDS Primary Science Fair (PSF).

About 3,000 children will exhibit at the first leg of the fair in Dublin's RDS, from tomorrow until Saturday, coinciding with the annual BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition (BTYSTE), for second-level schools.

The PSF will also be hosted at two other venues, Mary Immaculate College, Limerick (Bullaun NS pupils will be among more than 3,000 participating there on January 18-20), and Belfast, in June.

The fair has grown hugely since its inaugural year, 2010, when 82 schools and 1,900 students exhibited at a single event at the RDS. This year, across the three fairs, 290 schools and 7,250 students are involved.

The PSF has been independently cited as a potential global benchmark for similar initiatives. International studies have shown links between primary school science engagement and later academic science achievement.

RDS chief executive Michael Duffy says that feedback from the PSF shows that participants' science and maths skills improve, as does their confidence, teamwork and social skills.
The fair proves the appetite for science among primary pupils, despite it being somewhat of a Cinderella subject in Irish primary education.

The time devoted to it is less than half the international average, and research shows that a large proportion of teachers are not comfortable with teaching it. A review of the time allocation for subjects in the primary curriculum currently underway the National Council or Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) may lead to changes however.

For this year's fair, curious pupils sought out answers to questions like 'Can we get balloons to lift us off the ground?' and 'Why do onions make us cry?'.
This is the fourth year that Bullaun NS has been involved, and teacher and STEM co-ordinator, Gemma Dolan says as this year's sixth class is particularly interested in hurling, they decided to explore how the weight of the stick might influence the game.
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Source: Independent.ie


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