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This Birr Castle Demesne, ESERO Ireland and SFI’s Curious Minds Programme course explores the castle’s a rich Scientific Heritage and much of the course content is based around the different aspects of this heritage, providing examples to teachers of how they can derive inspiration from their own local areas to involve children in inquiry-based STEM education.

The course will provide teachers with a rich and varied learning experience through encouraging the use of hands-on practical activities, digital and outdoor learning and cross curricular themes.  Teachers will gain knowledge of the STEM areas of Astronomy, Biodiversity and Engineering, and sources of Irish data for Maths integration in STEM projects. They will also be introduced to tools and practical techniques to these topics to their pupils in an engaging manner.  In this way, the course learning will benefit both participants and their pupils.

Technical Requirements

All our courses require broadband Internet access and participants need to be familiar with using the internet, downloading and installing software.

Course Objectives
  • To use the Scientific Heritage of Birr Castle Demesne as inspiration for inquiry based classroom and outdoor STEM investigations and Design and Make
  • To provide teachers with background knowledge on a range of STEM topics from Astronomy to Biodiversity and Engineering
  • To use the existing primary science resources from Birr Castle Demesne, ESERO Ireland and Curious Minds to promote inquiry based teaching and learning across a range of STEM topics
  • To provide examples of ways to integrate practical maths into STEM activities
Expected Outcomes
  • Participants will understand what the Curious Minds/ESERO Framework for Inquiry is and how to use it to plan and teach STEM activities and themes and differentiate STEM activities for junior/senior classes. 
  • Participants will Understand how to conduct class investigations to investigate telescopes and astronomy
  • Participant will learn about the Wild Connections project in Birr Castle Demesne and how the teaching resources can be used to inspire explorations of your local flora and fauna. 
  • Participants will be familiar with some of the past and present engineering features created at Birr Castle Demesne such as the Great Telescope, water turbines and the suspension bridge.
Course Duration

Delivered online, this course can be taken anytime between July 3rd and August 18th, 2023. Participants are required to engage meaningfully with online content for approximately 20 hours. Whilst participation and engagement with the course content will be primarily judged on the quality of their contributions, an attendance roll will be kept and a log of their time spent working online.

Course Authors

Úna Halpin has a BSc in Geology and an MSc in Environmental Engineering and has worked in Environmental and Science
Education, developing resources and facilitating education programmes for primary school pupils and teachers on behalf of Curious Minds/ESERO and other organisations since 2005.

Úna Halpin photo

Colm Hogan is a Senior Tour Guide and Education Assistant at Birr Castle Demesne and has recently completed his studies in Science Education at the University of Limerick. Colm has plenty of experience in designing and facilitating STEM workshops for children of all ages based around the biodiversity and astronomical history of Birr Castle Demesne and hopes that this CPD course will empower you to do the same with your students.

Colm Hogan photo
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