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Ballymahon VS hosts student science workshop

Inspiring primary and post-primary students during a wonderful display of Science with AIT-Connect & Discover! Audience participation at its best in Ballymahon Vocational School

Inspiring primary and post-primary students during a wonderful display of Science with AIT-Connect & Discover! Audience participation at its best in Ballymahon Vocational School

At Ballymahon Vocational School we believe that the development of critical thinking skills in our student body is crucial.

In conjunction with the Centre for School Leadership, the Department of Education and Skills and in collaboration with Carrick-on-Shannon Education Centre, BVS is excited to participate in the initiative 'Excellence through Collaborative Leadership and Management'.

The development of key entrepreneurial skills, a wider appreciation of STEM careers, the encouragement of innovation and a renewed understanding and appreciation of our local region are among the fundamental aims of our project.If students are to reach their true potential, we are convinced that the development of these key skills is fundamental.

Along with four local primary schools, Ballymahon Vocational School is collaborating with Abbott Ireland Diagnostics (Longford), Center Parcs (Ballymahon), Midland Science (Tullamore) Failte Ireland (Hidden Heartlands), Regional Skills (Midlands) and Athlone Institute Technology (AIT).

Management and teachers from Ballymahon Vocational School, Tashinny, Colehill, Forgney and Emper National Schools are engaging to plan collaboratively, as we develop learning activities which will be of benefit to our respective student populations.

On Friday, May 3, Ballymahon Vocational School was excited to host a series of student Science workshops provided by our business and industry partners in the community. As set down in the Guidelines for Wellbeing in Junior Cycle 2017, we aim to promote Student Flourishing in our school community through building relationships in the community and encouraging better relationships between schools.

Together with our partners, we are convinced that an earlier introduction to post-primary school for potential students will lead to improved outcomes and greater educational attainment for all students, particularly EAL students and students with additional needs.

With this in mind, Abbott Ireland Diagnostics (Longford), Midland Science (Tullamore) and Athlone Institute of Technology (AIT) came together to provide a series of magical Science workshops attended by 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th class pupils from Colehill, Emper, Forgney and Tashinny National Schools, in collaboration with their First Year counterparts in Ballymahon Vocational School.

Students were enthralled during a variety of interactive workshops, which interrogated areas as diverse as the mechanics of aircraft and rockets, the anatomy of the eye, the weight of air, random facts about bacteria/germs and how to stay safe in a Science laboratory.

Students had the opportunity to reflect on their learning at the end of an action-packed day and were introduced to the concept of the Class Based Assessment, an integral aspect of the new Junior Cycle. A great day of fun and interactive learning was enjoyed by all, as students made new friends and developed additional skills.

The principal aim of our initiative is that stakeholders from the wider community will contribute a deeper knowledge of many subjects in the Junior Cycle curriculum by incorporating links to the working world.

“Each student’s understanding of how and where they can engage with the community will be developed and advanced as part of this project,” explained Principal Rosemary Johnston.

“Our shared vision includes the widespread utilisation of peer assessment as students enjoy the opportunity to share methodologies and ideas, while incorporating the working world into their day to day subjects.”

Together with our partners, at Ballymahon Vocational School we believe that the activities within this project will assist in supporting a seamless transition to post-primary school for all incoming First Year students. One of the cornerstones of our project is the primary objective of complimenting the curriculum by embedding the key skills of the Junior Cycle and highlighting the foundations of literacy and numeracy.

The fundamental aim is to introduce “learning snapshots” of a selection of Junior Cycle subjects to our primary school participants, while incorporating age appropriate methodologies. Joining with our primary school counterparts in embedding new active learning methodologies, at Ballymahon Vocational School we are constantly striving to build resilience in our student body.

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We aim to ensure that students have the skillset to confidently move forward and become independent learners as they transition into post primary school, and indeed on into the worlds of further education and work. At the centre of our vision is the strengthening of the relationship between the primary and secondary school sectors.

Additionally, we believe that student voice can be empowered with the intervention of leading experts in the areas of industry, enterprise and education within the Midlands region. A cross-sectoral collaborative approach is a principal goal as we encourage teamwork between the students in both sectors, promoting the formation of friendships during the workshops and school visit days.

Having industry leaders from the region involved in the project results in their specialist expertise being transferred directly into the classroom, creating an optimum learning environment for all. Each of the stakeholders involved in the project continuously strives towards promoting and progressing education and industry within the region and we at Ballymahon Vocational School would like to express our gratitude to our primary school partners and our business partners for their enthusiastic support of this project.

Without the dedication of Abbott Ireland Diagnostics (Longford), Midland Science (Tullamore) and Athlone Institute of Technology (AIT) such a dynamic and innovative learning opportunity for our students would not have been possible.

It is our continued wish that this project will foster communication using a cross-sectoral approach as we share best practice in the true spirit of partnership and collaboration.

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