Young scientists get to work at Cork primary school

Pupils aged four and up at Rockboro Primary School test out their new lab

Vice-president for teaching and learning at UCC John O’Halloran with Fionn Aodh Twomey, Molly Sorensen and Rose Kavanagh Meaney at Rockboro Primary School. Photograph: Clare Keogh.

Vice-president for teaching and learning at UCC John O’Halloran with Fionn Aodh Twomey, Molly Sorensen and Rose Kavanagh Meaney at Rockboro Primary School. Photograph: Clare Keogh.

 

It it ever too early to start learning about science?

Not at bit of it, say teachers at Rockboro Primary School in Cork. Pupils ranging in age from four to 12 yesterday donned white lab coats and goggles as they road-tested the school’s new science lab.

“What we are doing here in Rockboro is encouraging the pupils to embrace science as a complement to their natural curiosity,” said school principal Aoife Healy. “It’s practical and relevant and children embrace it without thinking about it.”

The opening of the new science laboratory follows a €10,000 investment in new equipment and infrastructure by the school over the past year.

The benefits of learning about science for young children are enormous says UCC’s John O’Halloran, who performed the official opening.

“Science involves a lot of talking and listening to others; it develops patience too – a lot of the things in science don’t happen overnight,” said Prof O’Halloran, who is also UCC’s vice-president for teaching and learning.

Research shows that the younger the child, the smarter the investment in education, he said.

“Providing primary age children with an enhanced science curriculum and this fantastic facility will give them the optimum opportunity to engage with science and appreciate the benefits of problem solving and researching.”

Ireland, like many other developed countries, is facing an acute shortage of graduates in so-called Stem subjects: science, technology, engineering and maths.

It is estimated that in Europe alone more than 700,000 positions in these sectors remain unfilled, while many Irish students are opting to not to study these subjects for their Leaving Cert.