Presentation Primary School students observing the climate change workshop through the interactive whiteboard which was delivered by Jean Smith Scanlon from the EPA
Students from a Kilkenny primary school joined 20 schools nationwide whose students had the opportunity to learn about climate change during Science Week thanks to expert volunteers from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
EPA volunteers guided 800 students through virtual climate change workshops over the course of Science Week. The workshops were developed by Junior Achievement Ireland (JAI) in conjunction with the EPA and were delivered online as part of an exciting blended learning experience.
Through hands-on activities students analysed their carbon footprint and completed an energy audit of the classroom, allowing them to evaluate the human impact of their class.
The students learned that Irish people have amongst the highest greenhouse gas emissions level per person in the developed world but we can work together to reduce our impact. However, once they understood their impact, the students were then able to brainstorm ways in which they could collectively and individually reduce their impact on climate change.
“My students thoroughly enjoyed the EPA environmental workshop, the content showed how the students could have a positive impact on the world around them in a fun and accessible manner,” said Louise Power, teacher in Presentation Primary School.
“The virtual format worked really well and the level of engagement with the topic and our expert volunteer from the EPA was fantastic.”
The EPA environmental workshop is one of many opportunities afforded to students thanks to the EPA’s support of JAI since 2016. In that time 161 volunteers have reached 4,000 young people through Junior Achievement (JA) programmes designed to encourage young people to remain in education and help them to develop the skills they need to succeed in a changing world.
Jean Smith Scanlon, an EPA volunteer, says it was an incredible experience to be able to help students develop an interest and understanding of climate change and environmental issues at primary school level.
“The students I worked with in Presentation Primary School really got stuck into the interactive activities,” she said.
“I have to say it was not only inspirational to see their level of engagement but it was great fun also. I think I may have got as much out of the experience as the students did!”
Helen Raftery, CEO of JAI, says the educational value of students working with role models and getting the chance to learn from them is well-established.
A new range of virtual volunteering programme options are available from JAI for the new school year. These programmes retain the benefit of traditional in-class JA programmes while adding extra flexibility for both volunteers and schools.