CORK primary school Scoil Mhuire was recently awarded the Class of the Year award in the annual Junior Entrepreneur Programme.
Sixth class students from the Schull National School captured the national accolade for their concept Birdy Bites, a novel chicken treat containing chilli to repel rodents.
This ingenious idea was developed by the pupils who wanted to solve the problem of rodents stealing the chicken feed.
Following research, they discovered that chickens don’t have spice receptors, but rodents do and hate it. They experimented with ingredients to create a tasty and nutritious treat which they tested on their clucking customers in the school chicken run.
Birdy Bites were sold in the local hardware shop and at the school’s JEP showcase day.
The class has made a profit following their novel concept and they decided to donate a quarter of the profits to the local hen rescue charity.
Their teacher Johanna Fitzmaurice, said that she was very proud of what her class had achieved.
“Primary school children are well able to take on these projects, and they have skills we might not even realise they have until they get to take part in something like JEP,” she said.
Further enhancing the school’s entrepreneurial credentials, teacher Lorraine Whelton's sixth class successfully launched The Mini Kitchen, a cookbook filled with recipes featuring locally-produced ingredients from West Cork that pupils and their families cooked at home during lockdown.
JEP which was initiated in 2010 is a whole class entrepreneurship skills programme that promotes teamwork, resilience, problem-solving and creativity.
It is offered free to fifth and sixth classes in primary schools throughout Ireland. JEP encourages children to make decisions, negotiate, resolve conflicts and engage with the wider community. Approximately 80,000 pupils have participated in the programme since its foundation.
Kerry Pike National School, Carrigrohane in Cork won the Creative Pioneers Award for their project Bumble Bee Balm which is an eco-friendly, biodegradable and moisturising lip balm.
The biodegradable balm pots are covered with beeswax wrapping, and everything down to the product label is biodegradable. The balms were handmade by the pupils and all ingredients including shea butter, cocoa butter, essential oils, Vitamin E, beeswax and peppermint oil were sourced from local suppliers.
The class generated the funds to start the business through a loan from the school, and a €5 investment from each pupil. Bumble Bee Balm sold for €5 per pot and it made a profit of €750 for the pupils.
Enterprise Ireland supported JEP in 2021 under its Primary Schools Entrepreneurship Initiative, underlining the vital role of entrepreneurship in shaping Ireland’s future.
Mark Christal, Divisional Manager for Regions and Entrepreneurship at Enterprise Ireland said:
Marie Lynch, Director of the Junior Entrepreneur Programme said that the pandemic provided an opportunity to experiment with new ways of supporting teachers and their pupils:
“In the absence of teachers being able to invite a local entrepreneur to the classroom, we remotely delivered live entrepreneur interviews. Children relished the opportunity to ask burning questions to successful entrepreneurs.”
Several Cork schools received Merits for aspects of their project submissions.
They included sixth class students from Bandonbridge National School, Bandon; sixth class students from Cork Educate Together National School, Cork; sixth class students from Douglas Rochestown Educate Together National School, Cork; fifth and sixth class pupils from Scoil Eoin, Innishannon; sixth class students from Midleton Convent National School, Midleton; sixth class pupils from Midleton Convent National School, Midleton and sixth class students from Midleton Educate Together, Midleton.
Other Cork winners were sixth class students from Midleton Education Together, Midleton; sixth class pupils from Scoil Bhríde Presentation Primary, Midleton; sixth class students from Class Scoil na mBuachaillí Clonakilty; sixth class pupils from St Joseph’s Girls National School, Clonakilty and sixth class students from Timoleague National School.