Find out how our Cork school is helping save the planet

Our Green Ambassadors, Noah and Oscar tell us all about the environmental work being carried out at their school - from green flags, to recycled artwork, taking part in Climate Action Day and encouraging shops and cafes in their local community to take part in the Conscious Cup Campaign
Find out how our Cork school is helping save the planet
Noah and Oscar Mac Liam, Green Ambassadors for Kidz Zone, at Gaelscoil Mhainistir na Corann.

In their monthly column, our Kidz Zone Green Ambassadors, Noah and Oscar Mac Liam, aged 11  tell us all about the important environmental work being done at their school, Gaelscoil Mhainistir na Corann in Midleton.

Dia daoibh agus fáilte is fiche roimh gach duine!

Hello and welcome to this month's Kidz Zone where I will be telling you about the work that went, and is still going on at our school to earn our four green flags. These include water, litter and our most recently acquired flag - transport. This is the one I remember best. We had to conduct a weekly suirbhé taistil where everyone was awarded points based on how they got to or from school. The most points were earned by walking, scooting or cycling but you also earned points for travelling by bus or car pooling.

That survey was a vital step towards reducing carbon in our school. It was very special as every week our school would give a temporary prize “na buataisí órga” (golden boots) to the older classes (3-6 classes) and to the younger classrooms (juniors-2 classes) for most eco-friendly forms of travel to school. Each class had something to think about while conducting the survey as every point earned added up to mile in our trip to Moscow (Turas go Moscó). Whoever got to Moscow first would get a week free of homework! It was almost the end of the year and we were in the lead…. and then we found out that we had won!!! Saving the planet isn’t always hard work you know.

Slán go fóill Noah 

I’m going to tell you about how much I enjoy gardening at school. The impact of climate change is reduced when we plant flowers and other vegetation. In short, I think growing plants is an amazing idea. It had helped me to learn spatial awareness by having the seeds spaced out; measurement and also how nature develops itself. We are the people who will have the environment in our hands in the future, so that’s why we should learn how to lessen the impact of climate change. I am satisfied that my school is teaching me about this, and it even makes me look forward to going to school. So I hope more schools will include gardening as part of their school work. Agus ná dean dearmad, tús matih, leath na h-óibre! So start today! 

By Oscar


Gaelscoil Mhainistir na Corann.Coiste Glas ag siúl ar scoil.Picture Denis Minihane.
Gaelscoil Mhainistir na Corann.Coiste Glas ag siúl ar scoil.Picture Denis Minihane.


Here pupils from Gaelscoil Mhainistir na Corann in Midleton tell us about how they are fighting climate change

Réamhrá – An Coiste Glas

Anseo i nGaelscoil Mhainistir na Corann, táimid ag plé le Scoileanna Glasa le níos mó ná deich mbliana anuas. Tá coiste iontach páistí agus foireannn na scoile a oibríonn as láimhe a chéile chun cúrsaí timpeallachta a chur chun cinn.

With four green flags to our name, we decided to take a year’s break from the process this year to revisit the themes of the earlier flags. We quickly realised that when it came to using our bins properly at home and at school, most of us were rubbish! Informing pupils, staff and parents about what can and cannot be recycled has been the challenge of the year as there is still so much confusion around this issue.

Most students and staff now have a reusable lunchbox and drinking bottle. Staff wrapped their Kriskindle presents in newspaper or brown paper this Christmas and we have all thought a bit more about how we can reduce, reuse and recycle.

The workshops on plastic organised by Múinteoir Gráinne Uí Chéitinn with artist, Grace Hamilton and marine biologist, Frances Gallagher and the art work they have produced have made a big impact on students and staff alike as we consider our own plastic use.  That is why we were all dismayed when we embarked on the Food Dudes programme earlier this month to discover that each of the children’s two daily portions of fruit or veg were wrapped in plastic and that each class’s overall portion was then wrapped in a bigger piece of plastic!

The UN describes climate change as the defining issue of our time and now as the defining moment to do something about it. At the Gaelscoil, we hope to encourage a spirit of activism in our students and some of them have already attended the climate change protests started by Greta Thunberg. Pupils from fifth class wrote to our milk supplier, Glanbia about their use of plastic straws which we hope to have replaced by paper straws in September.

6 th class have written to Bord Bia to complain about the plastic used in the Food Dudes programme and we really hope that they will switch to a more environmentally friendly form of packaging as well as reducing portion sizes to eliminate food waste next year. 

Finally, 5th and 6 th class Green School Committee members have been busy lobbying cafés and shops in Midleton to take part in the Conscious Cup Campaign. We hope to tackle supermarkets and food companies about plastic packaging next term.

Our current aims are to continue the gardening undertaken by many of our staff and students in their classrooms and the school garden and to encourage parents to stop sending in money in plastic bags.

We also hope to use all soft plastics in the staffroom to produce ecobricks. These are bottles filled with soft plastics that can be put together to produce furniture or sculptures. Finally, all electronic devices and lights will be turned off next Friday, March 29 from 11 o clock to the end of the day for Earth Hour.

Tá go leor déanta againne ach fuílleach fós le déanamh. I ndeireadh na dála, is ar scáth a chéile a mhairimid.

Rang 4 pupils (from left) Ciara Ní Riain D'Ardis, Ríain Mac Cormaic, Aoibhín de Paor agus Jack Ó Broin, who took part in a workshop on plastic in the oceans, standing beneath a piece of art, Our Plastic Planet, by Grace Hamilton.Picture Denis Minihane.
Rang 4 pupils (from left) Ciara Ní Riain D'Ardis, Ríain Mac Cormaic, Aoibhín de Paor agus Jack Ó Broin, who took part in a workshop on plastic in the oceans, standing beneath a piece of art, Our Plastic Planet, by Grace Hamilton.Picture Denis Minihane.

OUR PLASTIC PLANET

There is a new piece of art work hanging on the walls of Gaelscoil Mhainistir Na Corann this month. From a distance the circular piece is predominantly blue and green and is reminiscent of the view of earth from space. However, get up close and you will notice that it is a very unusual piece of art made up of hundreds of pieces of plastic pollution collected along the East Cork coastline. The piece, titled “Our Plastic Planet : Ár bPláinéad Plaistigh “ is a visual reminder of workshops with the students of both Fourth Classes at Gaelscoil Mhainistir Na Corann on the topic of ocean plastic.

The idea for the project came from Muinteoir Gráinne Uí Chéitinn and her colleagues at the Gaelscoil. Grainne explains the motivation.

“We all know that plastic is a problem on both land and sea. We believe in empowering and informing our students so that they can the problem and identify possible solutions. The students of our 4 th classes now know that they can make a difference through better choices. Whether or not they make them is over to them but of course we hope they do.” 

Frances Gallagher is an aquatic biologist living and working near Roches Point. Frances joined forces with artist and fellow climate change activist Grace Hamilton to design and deliver the workshops. 

“I have been aware of the growing problem of our sea birds and sea life ingesting plastics for many years and was more than happy to pass what I know on to the students. Many of the children already had a good grasp of the problem and the enthusiasm to tackle it was really heartening” says Frances.

Grace Hamilton was responsible for creating the final visual piece. Apart from the wall mount and fixings, every part of the piece was collected from the coast. Reflecting the reality of the pollution in oceans, more than 50% of the plastic found and used is fishing waste.

Grace explains: “During the workshops the students had the opportunity to explore plastic pollution through their own artwork. When I was creating the final piece I used the strands from fishing rope to literally weave the pieces together. I also used it to bind the outer ring which represents the earth’s atmosphere when seen from space. But look closely and you will identify many familiar objects which unfortunately have become ‘throw away’ in our society.”

Right enough, the piece consists of many plastic items from toothbrushes to betting shop pens, drinking straws to bottle tops. A miniature holy statue and a hair roller top the most unexpected list. Our Plastic Planet is a timely reminder to re-use where we can, to recycle if we can’t reuse and finally to never flush plastic items down the toilet.

Interested in similar workshops? Contact Frances and Grace contact@gracehamilton.ie

Pupils (from left) Máire Ní Fhinn, Pilib Mac Oistigín, Julie Ní Bhriain agus Óisín Ó Muirí with four green flag slogans.Picture Denis Minihane.
Pupils (from left) Máire Ní Fhinn, Pilib Mac Oistigín, Julie Ní Bhriain agus Óisín Ó Muirí with four green flag slogans.Picture Denis Minihane.

CLIMATE ACTION DAY

FEBRUARY 15 marked a day of climate action for primary schools students across the European Union. Inspired by teenage Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg who addressed world leaders at the COP24 U.N. Climate Change Summit and the World Economic Forum, environmentally conscious students are calling on their governments to take action on global warming.

Gaelscoil Mhainistir na Corann marked the day by unveiling a wonderful piece of art work created by Grace Hamilton. The whale image is set on composite aluminum measuring 2.44m x 1.22m and Ballycotton Island can be seen in the background. The image has opened the door to many conversations within and beyond the classroom. It’s plastic pollution theme is a reminder to us all to say no to single-use plastics. This is a theme that our Green School’s committee are taking very seriously and all of the Gaelscoil students have committed to using re-usable drink bottles.

Aquatic biologist Frances Gallagher was present at the unveiling to explain about the effects of plastic pollution on the sea life off Ireland’s coasts. Together we can make a difference but we need to start now. Our Planet Our Future.

Pupils (from left) Cadhla Ní Chearnaigh, Christian Ramsell, Robyn Ní Néill, Lochlann Stíobhard, Eve Ní Fhathaigh agus Ciarán Ó Ceallaigh of An Coiste Glas ag déanamh spot-seiceálacha.Picture Denis Minihane.
Pupils (from left) Cadhla Ní Chearnaigh, Christian Ramsell, Robyn Ní Néill, Lochlann Stíobhard, Eve Ní Fhathaigh agus Ciarán Ó Ceallaigh of An Coiste Glas ag déanamh spot-seiceálacha.Picture Denis Minihane.

JUNIOR ACHIEVEMENT IRELAND

This year we have been doing some fun experiments with Gas Networks Ireland and everyone has really enjoyed it. It is for the Junior Achievement Ireland and our teacher’s name is Niamh. She has been extremely helpful and informative. So far, we have engaged with some well-being activities, forensic science and rated our school on energy efficiency. We found out that Natural Gas is the same age as dinosaurs. Táim ag súil leis an gcéad cheacht eile.

By Jack Ó Smiste

For the last three weeks, my classmates and I have been taking part in the Junior Achievement Programme. In partnership with Gas Networks Ireland, we have learned a lot about geology (the study of rocks) and about energy and renewable/non renewable fuels. I love when our instructor, Niamh comes in every Tuesday. Táim ag súil leis an gcéad cheacht eile cheana féin!

By Conor Mac Dómhnaill

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THE ECHO KIDZ ZONE FOR ELAINE 21/03/2019 Gaelscoil Mhainistir na Corann.The Conscious Cup campaigners - (from left) Sam Ó Donnalláin, Darragh Ó Cróinín, Roisín Ní Crotaigh, Áine Ní Riain, Máire Ní Fhinn agus Jake Ó Ciarba. Picture Denis Minihane.
THE ECHO KIDZ ZONE FOR ELAINE 21/03/2019 Gaelscoil Mhainistir na Corann.The Conscious Cup campaigners - (from left) Sam Ó Donnalláin, Darragh Ó Cróinín, Roisín Ní Crotaigh, Áine Ní Riain, Máire Ní Fhinn agus Jake Ó Ciarba. Picture Denis Minihane.

A Mhíolta Mhóra

Ó,  a Mhíolta mhóra, 

A Mhíolta mhóra uaisle, 

Tá brón orainn go léir.

Chaitheamar bruscar san uisce, 

Níor thit sé ón spear.

Itheann sibhse an plaisteach.

Fanann sé i bhur mboilg.

Faigheann sibh go pianmhar.

Is sinne sa bhaile ar tolg.

Geallfaimid libh go dtógaimid

 3 phíosa plaistigh ón dtrá.

Déanfaimid ár seacht ndícheall 

Chun athchúrsáil a dhéanamh gach lá.

Is déanfaimid laghdú is ath-úsáid 

Ar an bplaisteach go deo 

Chun na farraige a ghlanadh 

Agus sibh a choimeád beo.

Le Rang a 1, Sadie 

Róisín Ní Cheallaigh, múinteoir, with the debating team members (from left) Isibéal Nestor, Micheál Ó Lafán, Róisín Ní hAodha, Áine Ní Riain, Senan Ó Gliasáin and Riain Mac Conchoille.Picture Denis Minihane.
Róisín Ní Cheallaigh, múinteoir, with the debating team members (from left) Isibéal Nestor, Micheál Ó Lafán, Róisín Ní hAodha, Áine Ní Riain, Senan Ó Gliasáin and Riain Mac Conchoille.Picture Denis Minihane.

GAELSCOIL DEBATING TEAM

I mbliana, tá foireann díopóireachta na Gaelscoile ag glacadh páirte sa chomórtas Concern (The Concern Primary Debating Competition).

Táimid i bhfad níos muininí ag caint os comhair slua anois agus an- chuid foghlamtha againn maidir le cúrsaí timpeallachta.

The motion of our first debate was that people should be fined for not recycling in Ireland. We were proposing the motion and with all the emphasis on recycling in our school this year, it wasn’t too difficult to argue in favour of a fine. In the end, both teams got through to the second round.

This time we had to argue in favour of banning cars completely in Ireland! When we first saw the motion, it seemed like an impossible task but the speeches came together in the end the motion was carried.

Round three required us to impose a tax on water. We knew this was a very controversial issue and we could see from the survey we did with our parents that a water tax was not popular! It was another closely fought competition but in the end we did just about enough to win the day.

That brings us to the semi-final of the competition which will take place in our school on April 2. Our motion is: To be serious about climate change, we have to give up meat. This is a tough motion and it’s fair to say that the steaks are high! 

Tá neart cleachtaidh le déanamh againn fós but hopefully we’ll “meat” the challenge!

Rang 1 pupils with a mural set on composite aluminium designed by Grace Hamilton. Also in picture is múinteoir Gráinne Uí Chéitinn.Picture Denis Minihane.
Rang 1 pupils with a mural set on composite aluminium designed by Grace Hamilton. Also in picture is múinteoir Gráinne Uí Chéitinn.Picture Denis Minihane.

Bluey the Whale 

Once there was a whale, 

with a snail on his tail.

His name was Bluey, 

And one day her whole life went cablooy.

One day this little whale said to his Mum,

 ‘I think a bit of plastic is inside my tum,’ 

‘Oh those silly humans polluting the earth,’

 ‘The plastic is making the sea creatures hurt,’ 

‘Mommy my tummy, it doesn’t feel good,’ 

‘I really, really hope there will be no blood,’

 ‘It’s OK Bluey you’ll be quite fine,’

 ‘Because as of right now you’re only five,’ 

Unfortunately, Bluey’s story didn’t end well, 

I hope that this will ring a bell,

To save the whales from dying out,

Please stop throwing plastic out.

By Julie O’Brien

ABOUT COISTE GLAS

The ‘Coiste Glas’ is a committee in our school who gather together once or twice a month to come up with ways to help the environment. Tá buachaill amháin agus cailín amháin ó gach rang ar an gcoiste faoi stiúir múinteoirí Úna Ní Shúilleabháin, Tara Ní Shiochrú agus Ellen Ní Fhloinn.

We have worked very hard as a committee to earn four green flags. The first flag was for recycling, the second was for saving energy, the next was for reducing the amount of water we use and the fourth was for reducing the amount of cars on the road. Next year we will be working on getting the fifth and final green flag for biodiversity.

I mbliana, táimid ag díriú go mór ar bhruscar. We use colour coded bins throughout the school to distinguish between recycling and rubbish. 

Múintoir Úna prepared a Powerpoint presentation and we went from class to class showing exactly what can go in each bin. 

We now carry out spot-checks in each class at lunchtime to ensure that and everyone is using the bins correctly and that our lights, whiteboards and taps are turned off.

Jake Ó Ciarba (Rang a 6) 


Meaghan Nic Charthaigh, múinteoir, (left) and Fiona Uí Chnoic, runaí, re the plastic free school campaign.Picture Denis Minihane.
Meaghan Nic Charthaigh, múinteoir, (left) and Fiona Uí Chnoic, runaí, re the plastic free school campaign.Picture Denis Minihane.

THE CONSCIOUS CUP CAMPAIGN

Tá an scoil ag díriú go mór ar bhruscar i mbliana agus rinneamar taispeántas ar an méid cupán caife aon úsáide (single use coffee cups) a chaitear amach in Éirinn – 22,000 in an hour and 200 million each year! When visitors come to our school, many of them say they are shocked the amount of single use cups which are usually not recyclable we go through.

As representatives of the ‘Coiste Glas’, we visited cafés and shops in Midleton to promote the Conscious Cup Campaign. The CCC is a movement that promotes the use of reusable cups. We wanted to inform local businesses of ways to protect the environment. A group of us from 5 th and 6 th class went around to the cafés and shops of Midleton encouraging them to take part in the campaign. Talking to employees could be quite nerve-wracking but we knew it was for a good cause. We explained that they could give a discount if a customer bought their hot beverage in a reusable cup and how their café could gain publicity on the CCC social media page. Some cafés were already giving a discount and others were interested in joining the CCC. We hope that we have had an effect on our town and have increased the use of reusable cups. Ná déanaigí dearmad ar bhur gcupáin féin!

By Áine Ní Riain, Rang a 6.


THE EFFECTS OF PLASTIC ON ANIMALS 

I mí Eanáir 2019, tháinig an ealaíontóir, Grace Hamilton agus an bitheolaí mara, Frances Gallagher isteach chun labhairt linn faoi phlaisteach. I didn’t realise how dangerous plastic was until I found that it kills thousands of aquatic animals every day! When Grace showed us a picture of a bird that had died from eating plastic, I was astonished by the amount of plastic it had consumed. “What can we do to help?” you might ask. Well, here is your answer - if everyone who goes to the beach or on a walk could pick up just two pieces of plastic, you would be doing your bit to save the world! We also learned about how we can reduce our own use of plastics.

Please, ask yourself, is this the way that you want innocent animals to die?

By Niamh Ní Mhuirí – Rang a 6.

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Jeff the Whale By Máire Ní Fhinn

A whale called, Jeff, swimming in the sea, 

Was probably made before you and me,

How did a Sunday down by the bay, 

Turn into quite such a miserable day?

The fact is sad, they’re not to blame,

The truth is bad, it puts us to shame.

Jeff agrees the water’s not fantastic, 

The problem we must fix is to cut down on plastic.

Poor Jeff looks so ill,

It will add a lot to his hospital bill,

He’s now 50% whale, 50% plastic,

And just to let you know I’m not being sarcastic.

This all happened down by Ballycotton, The moral of the story is the ocean is ROTTEN!

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TAKING CARE OF OUR OCEAN

We learned about the damage ocean plastics can do to marine animals in the first term. It was really interesting because we learned that just one small piece of plastic can cost a life. 

Grace Hamilton and Francis Gallagher taught us the importance of plastic, where it goes and what it does. In the end, lots of it ends up in the ocean and it is pretty likely a fish or whale will eat it. 

We learned that we must all use less plastic and if we do use it, we must put it in the correct bin – recycling for rigid plastics that are clean and the regular rubbish bin for softer plastics that sadly cannot be recycled in Ireland. Níl tú riamh ró-óg chun difríocht a dhéanamh!

By Cáit Ní Laoire Aodha Rang 4 

I thought the workshop on ocean plastics was great because Grace Hamilton and Francis Gallagher taught us that so much of the plastic that goes into the sea ends up in the tummies of fish and birds, often making them very sick or even killing them. We investigated a selection of the plastics that they had found on the beaches of east Cork and Waterford and were really shocked by what we saw. Grace then used some of these plastics to create a sculpture of our world entitled “Our Plastic Planet”. It was the size of a tyre because they found so many tyres on the beaches. 

Both of the fourth classes got to get a picture just outside our school with the sculpture. They also showed us some videos of people helping out and taught us that no one is ever too young to help out save our planet. Caithfimid gearradh siar ar an bplaisteach a úsáidimid nó beidh sé ró-dhéanach.

By Max Rang 4

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