- Teachers Report Strong STEM Interest Despite Challenges of Lockdown.
- Amazing experiments and inspiring STEM experts on ESB Science Blast TV from April 27.
Nationwide survey of primary school teachers reveals:
Over 90% of primary school teachers feel under more pressure due to Covid-19
Maths the subject most impacted by absence of in-class teaching
Lack of in-class teaching has forced teachers to change priorities, but students’ interest in STEM remains strong
26 April 2021
ESB Science Blast, the Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) programme designed, developed and delivered by the RDS, has officially launched ESB Science Blast TV. This four-part educational television programme (each episode available in both Irish and English) is designed for 3rd-6th class and will be freely available on esbscienceblast.com and rte.ie/learn from Tuesday April 27. ESB Science Blast TV will build on successes in 2019 and 2020, which saw nearly 30,000 students take part in ESB Science Blast showcase events across three locations: Dublin, Belfast and Limerick.
Teachers’ changing priorities and lockdown impact on students:
The launch of ESB Science Blast TV coincides with recent research conducted by the RDS amongst primary school teachers nationwide, revealing how classrooms have been affected by the loss of several weeks of in-class teaching at the start of 2021.
93% of teachers have changed their teaching priorities for the rest of the year, with a majority keen to focus on literacy and numeracy.
65% of teachers reported that maths was most affected subject.
81% of teachers see social interaction as one of the key areas that suffered the most during the first two months of the year.
After a year of living with Covid-19 it is not surprising that over a third of students (36%) are showing more interest in science.
This builds upon research from 2020 on parents’ views of science, which revealed that 82% of them believed basic scientific knowledge gives their children an advantage in life and that 96% want their children to learn science to develop critical thinking and life skills in primary school.
Speaking at an event to mark this year’s digital offering, Minister for Education Norma Foley TD said: “ESB Science Blast is a truly wonderful event. The benefits are enormous. The pupils that get involved gain in confidence and creativity, come together as wonderful class groups, and enhance their problem-solving and communication skills.” She went on to say: “STEM education is a key priority for the Department of Education, as well as Government as a whole. One of the key elements of our approach is promoting STEM for all learners. We need to engage children from an early age in a manner that is accessible and appealing. Children learn through play. For this reason, we place a particular emphasis on hands-on, multi-sensory and creative experiences. ESB Science Blast is a great example of this.”
Prof Luke O’Neill, TCD: “What’s great about ESB Science Blast is how it connects everyone in the class to science and makes it real for them. Science is about finding explanations and greater understanding about everything, from the everyday, ordinary aspects of our lives to the extraordinary, fundamentals of our universe. Scientific thinking and STEM skills are vital for problem-solving and making life better, something we all know from the past year. The RDS have a great track record in science education, and I’d encourage every primary school in the country to get stuck into their STEM education programme this summer and have some fun with science.”
In the absence of in-person events in 2021, primary school classes (3rd-6th) can take part in ESB Science Blast this year in a way that suits them, from watching ESB Science Blast TV in class, to conducting their own investigations and presenting their findings to a judge through a video call. Class investigations undertaken as part of ESB Science Blast are reported to significantly improve students’ confidence in science and maths, as well as have significant benefits for literacy and oral communication.
Designed to educate and inspire primary school children with the wonders of science, each ESB Science Blast TV episode works with the primary school curriculum and will examine the amazing science behind simple questions, such as:
In each episode, a science expert demonstrates the concepts learned through small experiments that can be replicated in the classroom. Each episode will finish with a bang – a super-sized experiment not to be tried at home!
“It’s been a truly exceptional year for primary schools across the country. We cannot host our showcase events in-person, as we have done for the past two years, so we are bringing the buzz and excitement to a screen accessible by every primary school in Ireland through ESB Science Blast TV” said Geraldine Ruane, Chief Executive of the RDS. “While this digital format builds on the past two years of success, we are really building upon a much deeper engagement in science education by the RDS, one that goes back many generations. Our investment in this education programme is a long-term investment in the future of Irish society.”
ESB is the title sponsor of the event. Pat O’Doherty, Chief Executive of ESB, welcomed the launch of ESB Science Blast TV, “We are very proud to support this important programme, which encourages and empowers children to question the world around them and in doing so develop important life skills, like critical thinking and scientific literacy. ESB Science Blast TV will give children and teachers across Ireland an insight into the unique nature of this programme, and hopefully encourage many more schools to get involved and develop their own projects.”
To find out more about the event visit www.esbscienceblast.com
For more information, please contact:
Survey was conducted with 3rd-6th class primary school teachers on the RDS database. Over 230 teachers participated.
93 percent of teachers have changed their teaching priorities for the rest of the year on foot of the loss of in-class teaching January – March.
The majority, 85%, report they plan to focus more on literacy and numeracy.
Over half (53 percent) planning to do more physical activity.
When asked what areas of the curriculum suffered during the loss of in-class teaching:
43% highlighted impact on Social Personal and Health Education (SPHE)
34% saw an impact on Physical Education
30% reported that Social Environmental and Scientific (SESE), was also impacted
16% reported that Art was impacted
Teachers also observed that some key skills were also impacted from the loss of in-class training at the start of 2021, these were
Social interaction, 81 percent of teachers reported their concerns
Communications skills, 51 percent saw problems with this
Teamwork, 48 percent of teachers saw this impacted
Critical thinking 46 percent reported issues
Asked about pressure due to Covid-19, teachers reported:
Asked about the influence of a year living with Covid-19 and specifically if interest in STEM had increased because of this:
*The teachers on the RDS database are those that have taken part in ESB Science Blast and other STEM education programmes in recent years, so their base level of interest in STEM is taken to be already high.
Research undertaken by the RDS in 2019 shows that parents understand the critical role of science in primary education. 83% of parents surveyed believe a good understanding of science is needed to live and work today. The majority of respondents (82%) also believe that basic science education will give their kids an advantage in life and (86%) of parents are very open to their child pursing science as a career.
An independent evaluation in 2016 by international education and skills consultancy, ‘The Research Base’, found that 97% of students that participated in the RDS informal STEM education programme believed their involvement had improved their science skills and a had significant impact on pupil’s levels of confidence, communication skills, social skills and teamwork. Evidence also showed that participation in the programme over a number of years had a lasting impact at student, teacher and school levels.
The RDS (Royal Dublin Society) was founded in 1731 to help Ireland thrive culturally and economically. Today this mission finds voice through RDS programme which spans the areas of the arts, agriculture, equestrianism, enterprise and science. ESB Science Blast is a key project within the RDS Science and Technology work programme.
ESB is Ireland’s leading energy company established in 1927. Since its foundation, ESB has brought light and energy to communities in Ireland and beyond, helping them to reach their full potential. Today, ESB is leading the transition to a low carbon energy future, powered by clean electricity. This involves investing in low carbon and renewable generation, developing a smart network capable of supporting the further electrification of society and empowering customers to take more control over their energy use.
ESB’s Generation Tomorrow programme will see the company invest €7.5m over the next five years to support the work of a number of partners including ESB Science Blast. The Generation Tomorrow programme aims to help young people develop scientific literacy and critical thinking skills through programmes that encourage curiosity and discovery, helping them not only to become creative and innovative problem solvers, but also active and engaged citizens, capable of making informed choices to tackle climate change and other global challenges
ESB Science Blast is a STEM promotional programme developed and delivered by the RDS. It is funded by the RDS, ESB, Naughton Foundation, Irish American Partnership, Devenish Nutrition, SteriPack, Irish Aid, Jones Engineering and Matrix.