Coill Dubh National School, Naas, Co. Kildare had heard of UNAWE’s work with young children and Armagh-born teacher Mr. Declan Coulter contacted Armagh Observatory to arrange a Skype session to showcase the projects their children had undertaken recently.
On 7th December 2012, teachers Mr. Coulter and Mrs. Henebry led a group of fifty 2nd to 4th Class children in the morning session and Mr. Lacey (the school Principal) led the afternoon session with thirty 5th and 6th Class children.
All the children had been studying space themes for the month of November and had been rewarded with the visit of a local mobile planetarium to their school recently. Should the school wish to visit Armagh they would be very welcome to the Observatory and Planetarium, although this would be quite a distance for them to travel!
The younger children (7 to 10 year olds) had studied Planet Earth and showed the UK EU-UNAWE office their models of Rainforests, Deserts, Oceans and Ice Worlds, all excellent because through this they had also thought about the diversity of what different people wear, what animals live in these places, what it takes to survive there; all part of the global awareness that UNAWE projects try to foster.
After this excellent show-and-tell the children had their questions answered over the Skype call, these were many and very interesting and made us think! How old is the solar system? Is there another solar system? Could you stand on the rings of Saturn, to name but a few! While answering the questions we tried to make the children think – “Why would Neptune be so cold” – think of us on Earth, what keeps us warm so then are we closer or farther away from the Sun compared to Neptune?!
The second and older group (11 to 12) year olds had undertaken lots of Space research and asked many probing questions. In common with many children they were curious about the formation of the solar system and Universe, black holes and comets, the International Space Station etc.
They were told what an exciting time they were growing up in, with all the discoveries already and the new technologies and telescopes being commissioned. The expected visible bright comets next March and November/December (2013), the Gemenid meteor shower peaking in Mid-December, the gas cloud starting to go toward the black hole at the centre of the Milky Way, how they can see Jupiter tonight and the ISS with real scientists and astronauts on board and how girls can have just as exciting a future in space careers as boys!
Excellent work everyone, teachers, assistants and especially the children of Coill Dubh National School, thank you!
Declan commented: "On behalf of all of the staff and children at Coill Dubh National School I would like to send a huge thank you to Libby and the UNAWE office in Armagh Observatory. We have great fun learning about Earth and space over the past month and all of the kids were looking forward to the Skype session and it certainly didn’t disappoint! Everyone (young and old) thoroughly enjoyed the session and found it friendly, informative and very beneficial as a closing to our learning over the past month. Again thank you very much for the Skype session, our Earth balls and for answering our questions! From all in Coill Dubh NS, Kildare"