The two 5th classes in St. Pius X G.N.S. participated in a fascinating Marine Explorers Project and spent an exciting month taking care of nine creatures in an aquarium and doing lots of other activities relating to that incredible marine world that most of us know very little about.
We started the project by visiting Sea Life in Bray and were brought on the most amazing tour and introduced to a variety of marine creatures of all shapes and sizes. We were shown how to take care of our new friends once the aquarium arrived at the school. There were implements to clean the glass, to filter the water, a thermometer to monitor the temperature and of course we were also instructed how much food the creatures required…a lot less than we thought!
There was great excitement a few days later when the aquarium arrived and was installed. We were introduced to the nine animals we were to be looking after for the month. Rocks and stones were placed in the tank so the animals could camouflague themselves if they were a little shy or needed “personal space”! Once the water was added, a starfish, prawn, two blenny fish, two anemones, two mussels and a limpet were added and started to settle in. We were a little nervous and were warned that sometimes in the marine world a creature might eat one of its aquarium companions!
We got very attached to our new friends and named each one as we got to know their individual personalities. Observations were made at least three times daily. We took photos and recorded our findings. We examined each creature closely, drew diagrams and noted the changes that occurred over the month. Within a few short days, #Jeff the very energetic and photogenic prawn had shed his skin. Sadly the limpet was eaten by the starfish and blenny fish! The blenny fish kept changing colour and the starfish loved to snuggle up under the rocks. We loved watching the starfish eating as it opened up its stomach to eat a cockle. We fed the creatures twice a week.
Our weekly news was sent to Tomás Ó Briain, the Project Coordinator and appeared in the Marine Explorers Newsletter each week. Tomás visited every week and chatted with us about our findings.
We researched the fishing industry in Ireland and marine debris. The two classes designed a mural, one side depicting a healthy sea and the other a polluted one. Each girl created a wonderful marine diorama.
We got to know the eight remaining creatures, and their little habits and characteristics. We became really fond of them and so, we were all a little sad and lonely when the day arrived for them to be collected.
On Wednesday 25th March 2015, all the 5th class girls gathered in the Science room for a special presentation. Tomás Ó Briain, the Marine Explorers Project Coordinator, Pat Sievers from the Blackrock Education Centre and Pat Ó Suilleabhain from Sea Life in Bray came especially to St. Pius X G.N.S. to present the girls with a certificate to commend them on all the work they had done and their dedication to the project. The visitors talked about the work they hoped they would also do in the future to ensure that our waters are kept clean and our sea creatures are kept safe. Our guests also encouraged our girls to consider the possibility of them becoming Marine Biologists and Scientists, and putting the skills they had learned to good use in the future. Some girls spoke about their experiences throughout the project. The school was awarded a plaque which will be displayed in the Science room in St. Pius X, G.N.S.
The Marine Explorers Project has been a fantastic experience and one that we’ll always remember.