The aim of the Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) Centre for Science Engineering and Technology (CSET) Education and Outreach Programme at Lero is to increase awareness and encourage interest in software engineering and computing in the education sector in Ireland.
Science Foundation Ireland funds the Lero Education and Outreach Programme. The Irish Computer Society sponsors and supports the Scratch programme. Other partners include IT Tallaght, IT Sligo and CIO Ireland. The Scratch teaching materials are supported by the TY support service and have been developed under the guidelines of NCCA Transition Unit framework.
We started using Scratch in schools, in October 2007, shortly after Scratch was released by MIT in May 2007. Initially we worked with three secondary schools (210 students) from October 2007-May 2008. We introduced the Scratch tool that teaches programming concepts to teachers and students. Because the teachers and students involved were very enthusiastic about Scratch and eager to learn more, we decided to build a comprehensive set of teaching materials for schools. With the help of Sean Baker of Iona Technologies, we established links with IT Tallaght and CIO Ireland. Both groups were interested in promoting computing at second-level and interested in Scratch.
During the summer of 2008, two secondary school teachers worked with us at Lero as part of the Science Foundation Ireland Secondary Teachers Assistant Researcher (STARs) program to help us develop teaching materials. Muireann O’Brien from Carrigaline Community School, Co. Cork and Brendan O’ Sullivan from Castletroy College, Co. Limerick applied their knowledge and expertise of teaching ICT at second-level to developing a first version of a transition unit for transition year students.
Transition units (TUs) are one of the new curriculum components in the post-primary education senior cycle. This first version was launched in as a pilot in October 2008.
Picture of The Secondary Teacher Assistant Researchers (STARs) award ceremony >>
Secondary Teacher Assistant Researchers (STARs) award ceremony: From left: Junior Minister for Science, Technology and Enterprise, Dr. Jimmy Devins, Muirean O’Brien (Carrigaline Community School) and Clare McInerney, Education and Outreach Officer, Lero
Pictures of the Launch at Lero >>
Pictured at the recent launch at Lero, in the University of Limerick are (l-r) Ms. Clare McInerney, Education and Outreach Officer, Mr. Pat Horan, Our Lady’s Bower Secondary School, Athlone, Mr. Brendan O’ Sullivan, Castletroy College, Co. Limerick, Dr. Kevin Ryan, Lero Centre Director and Ms. Muireann O’ Brien, Carrigaline Community School, Co. Cork.
After the 2008-2009 pilot in 5 second-level schools, teachers involved were asked for their feedback on the teaching materials. Their comments and suggestions were incorporated into an updated version ready for national release September 2009. We were lucky once again to have Muireann O’ Brien and Brendan O’ Sullivan working with us at Lero during the summer of 2009 by. At this point, the Irish Computer Society became involved in the Scratch project and have supported the project in schools nationally.
In 2010, based on a suggestion from a teacher, we ran the first Irish national Scratch competition. The finals took place in May 2010. In 2011 we released a Scratch workbook. We also started collarboating with the NCTE, now the PDST, to develop and deliver Scratch training. Since 2011 Scratch training has been run in education centres around the country. In 2013, MIT released a new version of Scratch, Scratch 2.0
. This new version includes a number of new exciting features such as video motion, cloning, the ability to define your worn blocks and cloud variables. In 2013, the Irish Computer Society took over running the Scratch competition. Lero continues to stay involved in this great competition. Our goal on scratch.ie is to continue to support teachers, students and parents using the Scratch software in Ireland.
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