Discovery Science – Step 3 – Engineering Week 2017

Engineers are naturally curious about how things work. In this activity, the children built a cradle using sellotape and straws. Their goal was to ensure that their raw egg landed safely on the ground when dropped from a height of 50cm. Some of the cradles they built were not big enough and the egg cracked. Other succeeded! All part of the exploration process 🙂

Discovery Science – Step 3 – Make your own Windmill

In preparation for our visit to a real windfarm, the children had a go at making their own windmills! On windfarms there are large windmills and the force of the wind turns the windmill around. This mechanical energy is used to make electricity. Windmills are becoming popular in Ireland because wind energy creates cheap electricity, windmills do not pollute the atmosphere and the wind will not ‘run out’. In this activity, the children started with a square template and pulled the corners into the centre point to create the wheel of the windmill. Then they stuck the wheel into the unsharpened end of their pencils and viola! Paper windmills were created!


Discovery Science – Step 1 – Keep the Damp Out

Old houses tend to be damp because they have no ‘damp course’. Bricks absorb moisture from the ground and this moisture rises up the walls. In newer houses a layer of plastic (or other non-absorbent material) placed between the bricks near the ground stops the moisture rising. This is called a ‘damp course’. In this experiment, the junior room investigated what material would make the best damp course. The sheet of plastic proved to be the best!

Museum of Country Life – March 16th

Our visit to the Museum of Country Life, Castlebar, took us on a journey back in time to explore the lives of ordinary people who lived between 1850 and 1950. We admired everyday objects used in everyday life.

Our tour guide gave us a brief outline of the time in which these people lived. He noted that after the Great Famine, Ireland’s populations dipped from 8 million to 3 and a half million. This was primarily due to emigration and death by typhoid and cholera. In the 1850s, 90% of land owned by 10% of the people, the landlords. By 1950, these people owned their land.

Our guide went on to explain that complete Home Rule was never granted due to WWI. WWI, which was predicted to last only months, started in September 1914 and didn’t end until 1918. The British had promised Home Rule if the Irish helped them in France but this never transpired. In 1916, some Irish grew tired of waiting and 1500 Irish men staged a rebellion on Easter a Monday. 10000 British soldiers landed within 2 days and the rebels were defeated. We learned that the leaders were executed because they had committed treason but that people, who had initially laughed at the rebels attempts, came round to a new was of thinking. Prior to their deaths, the prisoners had been badly treated. James Connolly, for example, a man in septic shock, was shot by firing squad while he sat on a chair. In 1922, a Treaty was signed giving Ireland the right to govern 26 counties.

Our tour guide then took us through the various types of landscape in Ireland. There are marshes, bog (some of the best bog in Europe, the ecosystem of bogs have disappeared in Europe), mountains, rivers and lakes. Our tour guide showed us how the Irish people lived off the land. They may only have received on average a two year education in the 1920s but they were a very intelligent people. He showed us kish baskets made from dock stalk, bramble basket made using brambles and lobster pots made from willow or sally rods. Sometime lobster baskets were made from heather to cover the scent of bait in lobster pots. We saw chairs made from straw. They only lasted a year as they often became a heaven for pests but the new harvest every year brought replacements. The three main harvests were the turf, the potato and the seal harvest.

Our guide told us that willow used be cut using the coppicing technique. It was cut at the root so that the branches would grow tall, thin and flexible for crafts. We saw a cradle made from driftwood on the Aran islands. The bottom of it was made from willow (the people of Aran would’ve used seaweed as fertiliser in those days). We also saw a wooden cradle made in Roscommon.

Common trades of the century in question included the tin smith, shoemaker, carpenter, basket maker, wheelwright, blacksmith, the wood turner, the shopkeeper, the teacher, the thatcher and the cooper. The tin maker was very important at the time are they served as a form of communication system between towns. They often brought stories and new dance steps from place to place.

Discovery Science – Step 3 – Visiting Raheen Barr/ Derrynadivva Windfarm

On March 16th, Peter Brett from Eco Power took us on a guided tour of his family’s wind farm. Eco Power rent the land on which the turbines are built from local farmers. Houses must be at least 500m away from these turbines.

These 32 wind turbines were built in 2004 and are remote controlled. They produce enough energy to power between 450 and 600 homes daily. Their blades can turn 360 degrees to suit the wind direction. The blades flatten out when they are stopped.

The main parts of the wind turbine are the tower, the hub and the fibreglass blades. It takes less than 1 day to assemble a wind turbine, the foundations and Renee bolts are put in place over 3 days and then they must wait for a calm day. The 2 towers are placed one on top of the other by a crane, then the macell box, the blades and finally the hub. Enercon and Vestes are the two companies who have built the wind turbine son this wind farm. Peter and his team maintain the Vestes wind turbines but Enercon monitor their own.

Electricity is produced when the mechanical turning force of the blades is changed to electricity in generator. This energy is then changed to a high voltage, low amp state so it can be transported to Eco Power’s substation, the power station in Castle ar to its final destination, the national grid. Currently, wind energy provides for 30% of Ireland’s energy needs.

Every part of the wind turbine is recyclable except the blades, which range from 48m to 52m in diameter on this farm. Some newer turbines are 2 and a half times the size of these. The strongest winds on this farm come from the West but the day we were there, the winds were coming from a Northwest direction. Eco Power’s grid connection allows for 35 turbines only so the next 3 will be erected in the coming year.

The children had a wonderful day and we thank Peter for taking time out to show us around!

Super Troopers in Cahill’s Super Valu.

On Monday March 13th, we got the opportunity to meet with Niamh Arthurs, a nutrionist. Firstly she explained the Food Pyramid to everyone. The class got to taste samples of plenty of healthy foods. They tasted blueberries, avocados, spelt and currant bread, smoked salmon and chicken tikka, almond and soya milk.

This was a very enjoyable trip for all. We would like to thank all the staff in Super Valu, Niamh from Biabites and Super Troopers.










A walk around Castlerea.

On Monday last, March 13th 2017 we took a walking Trail around the Suck Valley Way in Castlerea.

We had an organised visit to Super Valu. As it was a super day we made the most of the good weather and got some exercise in before that.

Mrs. Callaghan showed the class the map before we started and explained the route we were to take.

We passed the Elephants grave, St. Kevin’s G.A.A pitch, the island, the Fairy Garden, Bank of Ireland, Mace, the Courthouse, the Garda Station, Castlerea Community School, the Hub, Harmac, the at Super mart and at our destination-Cahills Super Valu.