Tuesday, 29 June 2010

SELB Winners of STEM Challenge 2010

Congratulations to Armstrong Primary School in Armagh who were the winners of the Final held in the Odyssey Pavilion, Belfast on Monday 21st June. Together with Our Lady's Primary School Tullysaran, Richmount Primary School, Roan St Patrick's Primary School and St Mary's Primary Banbridge they represented our SELB area schools.

More images of the Final:


Monday, 26 April 2010

Armagh Winners of Astronomy Competition

Taken from Armagh Observatory Press Release: Pupils from two schools in Armagh won eight of the prizes of the national astronomy competition run by the Irish Astronomical Association as part of the International Year of Astronomy 2009. To celebrate this achievement, a prize award ceremony was held on Friday 16th of April in Mount St Catherine's Primary School, Armagh.

James Leetch and Edie Mea McCarthey from the Royal School Armagh won first prizes in the intermediate and junior art category of the "Space and Aliens Astronomy Competition". Orlaith O'Halloran, Kaneesha O'Hara, Emma Murtagh, Dylan McCann and Paulina Harabin from Mount St Catherine's Primary School Armagh were winners in junior categories of art, essays and poetry.

This competition, and the associated International Year of Astronomy activities during 2009, have been supported by the Republic of Ireland's "Discover Science and Engineering" programme.

Terry Moseley from the Irish Astronomical Association, one of the leading figures in amateur astronomy in Ireland, Miruna Popescu of Armagh Observatory, coordinator of the International Year of Astronomy, Irish national node, and Peter Gildea, Principal of Mount St Catherine's School Armagh, were the main organizers of the event.

Joan Shine, adviser for science with the Southern Education and Library Board, and Breda Naughton, principal officer in the Department of Education and Science's Integration Unit, were invited as special guests to the ceremony.

The Armagh Rhymers, who also kindly accepted the invitation, showcased, together with some of the pupils from Mount St Catherine's school, some of the astronomy songs that form part of their new repertoire. Their songs are the start of a new project called OASES, in which, together with Miruna Popescu, they use astronomy as a way of bringing people together "under the selfsame sky".

OASES, a peace and reconciliation project supported by the European Union through the Southern Cluster Partnership, is also part of UNAWE (Universe Awareness for Young Children), an international outreach activity that inspires young disadvantaged children with the beauty and grandeur of the Universe.


Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Interboard Induction Programme 2009-2010

Day 4 of the Regional Induction Programme for Beginning Teachers of science took place at the Killowen Outdoor Education Centre, Rostrevor on 15th April 2010.
This hands-on course allowed participants to explore the use of the outdoor classroom, using their own school grounds or an outdoor habitat, to engage students with science and the environment. The group engaged in a variety of fieldwork tasks linked to key elements and skills of the statutory curriculum as well as links to developing students’ knowledge, understanding and skills in science.

The management of risk and methods to raise and lower student energy levels were considered as well as the chance to practice fieldwork sampling skills to investigate biodiversity in different habitats.
Everyone agreed it was a very useful day, linking effectively with KS3, GCSE or GCE curriculum and containing lots of practical tips. As the good weather approaches participants feel more confident in applying the techniques and have been inspired to attempt to carry out their own ecology fieldwork.

See photos below:


Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Primary STEM Challenge Week - March 2010

Over 50 primary schools took part in the annual Primary STEM Challenge at a number of venues in the SELB Board area over a four day period. This year’s Challenge was the construction of an operational windmill capable of rotating into the wind, using the range of materials provided.

A big thank you to all the teachers and schools for the tremendous effort and enthusiasm they showed, and especially to those schools who acted as hosts for the competition.

Well done to all the pupils who took part and worked so enthusiastically to produce a wide range of innovative designs.

Congratulations to the winners of the SELB heats as follows:
The Armstrong Primary School, Armagh
St Mary’s Primary School, Banbridge
Roan St Patrick’s Primary School, Dungannon
Richmount Primary School, Portadown
Our Lady’s Primary School, Tullysaran

These schools now go forward to represent the SELB and compete in the final on Monday 21st June at W5, Belfast.


Friday, 2 April 2010

ASE Annual Conference 2010

This year’s ASE Annual Conference was held amid the snow and ice of a chilly Nottingham from the 5th-9th January. The University of Nottingham campus hosted a wide ranging programme of continuing professional development with a large choice of events across all student age ranges and aspects of science education.

With so much choice it was hard to decide between the host of worthy workshops and events, and difficult choices had to be made. For every venue attended there were at least two others you would have gone to if you only had time. But whatever the choices made you always come away from the conference with the batteries charged, full of enthusiasm and a host of new ideas and a potential shopping list as long as your arm from the visiting exhibitors.

The social programme included “What Robin Hood Never Knew Or The Science of Archery” in which Mark Stretton, an acclaimed expert, distinguished between fact and fiction and explained the science behind longbows. In addition there was some simple dance tuition and demonstration from professional dancers in “Strictly Come Dancing” and of course the Association Dinner in the East Midlands Conference Centre.

For further information on The Association for Science Education
Address : ASE, College Lane, Hatfield, Hertfordshire, AL10 9AA
Tel: 01707 283000
Web site: http://www.ase.org.uk/
NI Regional Representative :Dr. Caroline Greer
Email: caroline.greer@yahoo.co.uk
NI Field Officer : Mr. Colin Press
Email : colinpress@ase.org.uk


Friday, 5 February 2010

2010 International Year of Biodiversity

The United Nations has declared 2010 the International Year of Biodiversity (IYB). Biodiversity is the variety of life on Earth. It includes the whole of the natural world and is essential for sustaining the natural living systems that provide us with food, fuel, health, wealth, and other vital services. Biodiversity enriches our lives in so many ways, that we often take it for granted. It has shaped our culture, our traditions and societies. It is the basis of economy and trade, it provides services essential to human well-being such as climate control, pollination, flood protection, and so many others. If the current loss of biodiversity continues, we will not only be poorer, in every sense of the word, but our very existence will be threatened.

We have the power to protect or destroy our biodiversity. Currently, our activities are destroying biodiversity at alarming rates. These losses are irreversible and damage the life support systems we rely on. But we can prevent them.
We need to reflect on our achievements to safeguard biodiversity and focus on the urgent challenges ahead.

Now is the time to act.
This year is your chance to learn more about the rich tapestry of life around you, discover why it’s important for a healthy environment and get involved in monitoring and conserving your local wildlife.
We will be running a programme of events throughout 2010 to celebrate and promote International Year of Biodiversity. Stay up to date with upcoming events and ways to become involved here and at biodiversityni.com

Text and image taken for the NI Environment Agency website :

Newry & Mounre District Local Biodiversity Action Plan:


Bursaries for Teacher Professional Development

The General Teaching Council for Northern Ireland (GTCNI) has just announced a STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) Bursary funding programme available during 2010-11. The funding will be made available to individual teachers wishing to undertake professional activities relating to the NI Curriculum. The closing date for applications is Monday 1st March 2010.

The programme has been running successfully for five years and as with previous bursary programmes an emphasis is being placed on teacher professional development relating to improvement in teaching and learning for pupils. The Registrar of GTCNI, Eddie McArdle commented: “The bursary offers the opportunity for teachers to gain professional experiences that are not otherwise immediately available to them. All of the previous participants have spoken enthusiastically about the ‘professional space’ afforded by the bursary and testified the benefits of the experience, not only through confidence gained while undertaking the projects, but to the pupils too”.The range of previous bursary projects have included the development of skills in new ICT applications and software, skills in using interactive whiteboards and expertise in e-learning. The application form and notes are available for download from the GTCNI website http://www.gtcni.org.uk/index.cfm/page/Home/area/information. The closing date for applications is Monday 1st March 2010 and the activity period runs from 5th April 2010 – 1st March 2011