Researchers offer space-themed workshops to Limerick students
NUI Galway RESEARCHERS have teamed up with Limerick University, Met Éireann and Lero, the Limerick-based SFI Research Center for Software, to carry out schoolchildren projects in the stratosphere to examine the effects of space close on experiences.
lead a team of the Science Foundation Ireland Discover program with
The “Spaceship Earth” project, part of Science Foundation Ireland’s Discover program, organized two space-themed workshops for primary school children in Galway, Limerick and Kerry.
In these workshops, children learned about the importance of Science, Technology, Mathematics, Engineering and Medicine (STEMM), how to ask interesting science questions, and then develop experiments to find the answers.
The plan is to launch five high-altitude weather balloons this Friday from the Met Éireann observatory in Valentia, County Kerry.
The researchers expect these to reach over 30 km (100,000 feet) and will expose the payload experiments to the extreme environment of low pressure, low temperature and cosmic radiation. After maximum ascent, the space balloon bursts and a parachute is deployed, which ensures a safe landing on earth.
The payload is instrumented with electronic devices such as GPS, data loggers, and tracking technology to accurately find its return location. Once the experiences return, students will engage in analysis and discussion of their experiences that will extend and deepen student learning.
Lero Professor Derek O’Keeffe, Project Manager and Professor of Medical Device Technology and Director of the HIVE Laboratory at NUI Galway, said: “This exciting Spaceship Earth STEMM outreach project mission aims to inspire and empower students have the means to think big, beyond the horizon and show them that involvement in science, technology, engineering, math and medicine is for everyone. “
Charles Gillman, Director of Operations at the Valentia Observatory at the Met Éireann, said: “The Met Éireann has a long history of launching weather balloons at the Valentia Observatory, the first one being launched in the early 1940s. Every day since then, these balloons have provided valuable information on current atmospheric conditions which is essential to help produce our weather forecasts in Ireland and around the world.
Mr Gillman added: “We are delighted that our weather balloons are playing a role in the Spaceship Earth project and we look forward to hearing the results of this exciting and inspiring STEMM experience – it truly is out of this world. “
The Spaceship Earth mission included over 300 students at three schools – Scoil Mhuire, Oranmore, Galway; Scoil Íosagáin, CBS, Limerick and Scoil An Chroí Naofa, Presentation, Tralee Kerry.
Over 60 student experiences will be kicked off, including mission patch artwork the schoolchildren completed, which will be returned to them as a memento of the historic flight. In addition, the Spaceship Earth team will attempt to achieve the world record for flying paper airplane at the highest altitude.
Dr Patrick Johnson, School of Education, University of Limerick, said: “This project is a unique opportunity for schools to embark on a new and exciting adventure which aims to develop critical thinking skills, creativity and student curiosity, with the additional objective of developing positive dispositions among those involved towards STEMM topics.
In addition to experiments, these stratospheric balloons can capture visually stunning images of the curvature of planet Earth with on-board cameras providing an evocative way for people to engage with STEMM and realize the relationship between STEMM and art.
In addition, it reminds everyone that our unique planet is our spaceship in the universe and that we must focus all our efforts to avoid climate change.
Dr Cornelia Connolly, School of Education at NUI Galway and Lero, explained: “This project offers a unique opportunity not only to research behavioral responses to STEMM, but also to work directly with the teachers and young people that we present and present. innovative STEMM projects, encouraging commitment. “
More information can be found on the Spaceship Earth Project website.