Inch NS is a small primary school with 75 students located in Tipperary. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the school decided it was most practical to make one central Green Schools Committee, so the committee consists of 25 children from 1st, 2nd, and 3rd class. Before starting work on this theme, the school community had a poor awareness level of issues facing the Marine Environment.
Monitoring & Evaluation
As the school is inland, and not located close to the coast, they included learning about their local waterways as part of working on this theme. They studied their local rivers, the River Suir, Crommogue, the three sisters (the Barrow, the Nore, and the Suir), and the River Shannon. The committee carried out a single-use plastics survey at the start and end of the programme. Single-use plastics are a huge source of marine litter, often carried out to sea via rivers. The students looked at ways, both locally and globally, that litter and pollution can impact our waterways and the impact this has on fish and marine life. The students also learned about the decomposition of plastics and how long it takes waste to break down.
The students took part in the SeaKeepers Project where they learned about several native marine species such as the Grey Seal and Basking Shark. The before and after survey showed that there was a huge increase in knowledge of marine species gained by taking part in this project. Parents noted how students were recognising fish species in supermarkets and recognising Limpets and Seaweeds at visits to the beach. Inch NS were randomly selected as the winners of the SeaKeepers beach workshop and will avail of this at Tramore beach in September 2021.
Day of Action
The day of action was spread out over one week, during Marine Week in April 2021. This week-long format was chosen because of the difficulties Covid restrictions placed on running school-wide events. Each class carried out marine activities in their own bubble throughout the week. All classes participated in online workshops hosted by Green-Schools. The junior and middle Room participated by drawing sharks, jellyfish, sea turtles, and octopuses as well as learning about these creatures. The Senior Room did a raft-building STEM activity and focused on floating and sinking in water. The week of action was finished with outdoor activities such as a Limpet game (connected with the Seakeepers programme), a ‘Ship, Shore and Sea’ game, and a school clean-up. The action week was shared with the wider school community using social media.
At the end of their work on the theme, the staff and students were resurveyed about their awareness of the marine environment. They now have excellent awareness of the importance and threats facing the marine environment.
I was a bit worried how we would sustain interest given we are not that close to the beach but all fears were allayed through the wonderful resources provided. Marine Week provided wonderful workshops and great support resources. The children thoroughly enjoyed it and are definitely more knowledgeable. Helen Lane, Green-Schools Coordinator.