Monday 23 April 2018

Sky's the limit as pupils use drones to help new tech lessons take flight

Fourth-class pupils (from left) Tommy Gallagher, Madeleine Walsh, Elaina Molloy, and Kate Melody (all 10) and Cian Feeney (12), in sixth class, are given an opportunity to be creative with Lego robots at Attymass National School, Co Mayo. Photo: Keith Heneghan
Fourth-class pupils (from left) Tommy Gallagher, Madeleine Walsh, Elaina Molloy, and Kate Melody (all 10) and Cian Feeney (12), in sixth class, are given an opportunity to be creative with Lego robots at Attymass National School, Co Mayo. Photo: Keith Heneghan
Katherine Donnelly

Katherine Donnelly

Pupils will use drone cameras to record footage of local landscapes to share with geography classes in other schools, in an experimental project supported by the Department of Education.

Six schools coming together for the cutting-edge creation of their own classroom content represent one of 87 education clusters receiving funding to explore innovative approaches to teaching and learning.

The newly established School Excellence Fund encourages collaboration in the use of digital technology, STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths), tackling disadvantage and creativity.

It is the first time resources have been put in place to encourage schools to work together locally to trial ideas. Third-level colleges and industry may also join in.

Clusters will be expected to report on the impact of their projects and consider how the learning can be spread to all schools.

The 87 clusters involve more than 265 primary and post-primary schools.

They were announced by Education Minister Richard Bruton who said the level of interest had exceeded expectations with "some very novel approaches".

The drone camera project involves Temple Carrig School in Greystones, Co Wicklow, and five other schools in Dublin and Co Westmeath. It is one of 32 digital clusters, involving more than 200 schools, which will receive up to €20,000 funding each over the next three years.

Other digital projects include one involving six gaelscoileanna in Dublin and Kildare hoping to improve computational-thinking skills through the use of robotic materials, with particular emphasis on expanding the range of resources available in Irish.

Another, bringing together 12 primary schools in Mayo and Sligo, led by Attymass NS, Ballina, will focus on what digital training works best for teachers.

At least 32 schools, in 10 clusters, are being supported in STEM projects - drones feature again in work by four Co Kerry primary schools and local manufacturing giant Liebherr.

Meanwhile, six schools in Co Offaly will build on the legacy of Birr as a former weather station site with a project that aims to have learner-built weather stations for all Midlands schools.

The 10 clusters to benefit from the first round of funding for schools in disadvantaged communities were announced recently and applications are being sought for a second round.

Applications are also now open for the creative strand of the fund.

Irish Independent

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