When climate change becomes second nature
Pupils at Scoil Íde, Corbally, Limerick learn about climate change through observation and science, with individuals given responsibility for reducing their school's carbon footprint by turning off lights and walking to school where possible.
The approach taken by principal Peter Long and sixth class teacher Neil Foley is to use data to highlight how the climate is changing and the impact this is having on the natural world.
"We're required to teach about the atmosphere, climate and weather, but the great thing about it is we can take in maths, geography, science and measurements, so we would do things which overlap in a lot of subjects," says Foley.
"A couple of years ago we bought data loggers, or sensors, and at the moment we're logging natural light at the same time every morning, as well as rainfall, soil temperature, pressure and seeing if that affects our weather, and linking it to climate change.
"Seasons are tied to the climate, and pupils look at the difference every term. Third class do projects on swallows, to see when they arrive and when they leave. That's the message we're trying to get to pupils, that everything is interconnected."
Younger students can have difficulty grasping the seriousness of climate change, but they do care, he says. They were shocked to learn that each of them had the same carbon footprint as 60 people in the developing world, and that the fruit they eat has a carbon footprint because it had to travel.
"That brings it down to them, They're shocked they're part of the problem in the first world," says Foley.
"Then I tell them they can't feel bad because they were born here, but we can make a change. We can walk to school and save petrol, so the kids believe they've done a good thing."
The school's outdoor classroom and garden allows pupils to engage with nature in a real-life way, such as by growing vegetables while also watching weather patterns.
While Storm Ophelia raged, the school's weather station recorded data and alerts were sent out on its Twitter feed.