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STEM Learning from the Ground up with Erasmus+
Scoil an Athar Tadhg is a primary school in Carrignavar in north Cork. The school is currently involved in an Erasmus+ School Education project on STEM Learning, 'STEM from the ground up'. Teacher Edel Woulfe outlines their project aims, their plans and hopes for their Erasmus+ staff mobilities, and the benefits of getting involved for their staff and students.
Why Erasmus+ for STEM Learning?
The theme of our Erasmus+ project is STEM Learning. Over the years we've been committed to the areas of science and maths. Our students have engaged in science experiments, maths trails and problem-solving activities. We've also received a Maths and Science Award in 2018 and 2019.
STEM is an evergrowing domain in education, industry and broader society. We see a need to develop skills and expertise in delivering STEM initiatives in our school. We are taking part in Erasmus+ because we want to incorporate more STEM into the students’ learning. We're particularly focused on technology, engineering and more applied learning in both science and maths, and Erasmus+ helps us learn best practices from partners across Europe.
Learning from our School Partners
Our Erasmus+ project goal is to observe and engage in STEM practices in our partner school in Spain, CEIP Plurilingue Santa Rita in the northern town of Viveiro. They have a wealth of expertise in STEM-based initiatives. and we want to apply this experience at home. We want to focus on a range of areas including robotics, coding, Scratch, and eBooks. We are also looking at the use of the environment for learning purposes.
We’re looking forward to learning how our partners are planning, implementing and assessing STEM at a school level. We want to learn more about how they develop their students’ knowledge and skills through active, inquiry-based learning. We plan to share our learning, experience and observations with our colleagues.
At a whole-school level, we hope to create a STEM plan which will be a central part of our school improvement plan. This plan will focus on the teaching and learning of science, technology, engineering and maths across the school system. It will also highlight the specific materials, devices, approaches and programmes needed at each level, from junior to senior classes, as well as for pupils with special educational needs.
We'll purchase additional materials for the school to support the enhanced teaching and learning of STEM. Although this will be a big investment we see it also as an investment in an evergrowing technologically-minded society.
The school is also in the process of building a new school building and we hope to incorporate a greenhouse. We want to be as environmentally friendly as possible, and we hope to learn a lot about incorporating the environment into our students' daily learning. When we return, we are committed to implementing these insights in daily school life in Scoil an Athar Tadhg.
Preparing for our Erasmus+ STEM Learning Project
To prepare ourselves we are immersing ourselves in research about all things STEM-related. Our school has purchased laptops through a grant from the Digital Learning Strategy. We hope that this will enable us to maximise our use of eBooks and other forms of technology. Our staff and students have an interest in Robotics. We want to develop this further from our mobility.
In order to overcome cultural and linguistic barriers, we are learning basic Spanish at bi-weekly Spanish classes.
As partners we've set up an eTwinning Page. You can see it here if you are an eTwinning member! We will be making sure that all teachers know how to register and are familiar with eTwinning, so they can engage in this and future European projects.
Furthermore we'll share updates with each other on eTwinning about online forums and websites to collaborate on projects with EU teachers. We are also planning to set up a Google drive for all partners. We are in regular contact with CEIP Plurilingue Santa Rita on TwinSpace to share ideas, plans and arrangements for our project.
Positive Outcomes From Our Erasmus+ STEM Learning Project
We hope this Erasmus+ project will have these benefits for STEM learning in our school:
- A whole school plan for STEM Learning
- CPD for teachers in the area of STEM
- The integration of STEM across a range of curricular areas
- Clarity on our specific roles and responsibilities as staff with regard to STEM
- The selection of suitable materials and resources
- Assessment of students across all areas of STEM
- Classroom planning, including fortnightly planning and individual lessons
- Inclusion of children with special educational needs – this is particularly significant considering the number of students with special educational needs and learning disabilities within our school
- Staff self-evaluation
- Expertise on appropriate teaching methodologies in STEM Learning.
While we are just starting out on our project journey, we already see the huge benefits and learning opportunities that this project has provided and no doubt will continue to provide. We are very grateful to Léargas and Erasmus+ for their assistance and support in facilitating this very worthwhile experience.
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