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Ulster University’s School of Education recently hosted a three-day STEM event in the Collab Lab on the Coleraine campus to mark World Oceans Day.

Held in conjunction with the Northern Ireland STEM Ambassador programme, the project delivered a focused, bespoke two-day Continual Professional Development course to 25 existing Northern Irish Primary school teachers and a one-day training event to approximately 20 student teachers from across teacher training colleges.

The project was held to coincide with the theme of World Oceans Day (which is celebrated annually on 8 June) and focused on human nutrition and sustainable development, providing adapted resources for both teachers, and student teachers with the skills, knowledge and application to effectively teach the topic using the lens of science, with components of technology, engineering, maths, ICT and communication skills.

In keeping with the themes of the Northern Ireland Primary curriculum, a cross-curricular thematic approach was adopted, encouraging teachers to consider language development, Personal Development and Mutual Understanding, the Arts and Physical Education.

The event also took the form of hands-on workshops, facilitated discussions and aimed to support a community of practice for primary educators in Northern Ireland. Teachers engaged in a range of experiments, curriculum focused tasks and addressed misconceptions in science.

At the teacher CPD celebratory event, held on the final day, Professor David Barr, Head of the School of Education, commending engagement from the schools and teachers in the CPD training and thanking them for their participation and enthusiasm throughout.

During the celebratory day, Dr Maria Mulhern (Lecturer in Food Science) and Dr Alison Yeates (Lecturer) both from the School of Biomedical Sciences attended to offer support and field any questions from the attendees, along with Dr Chris McGonigle (Senior Lecturer) from the School of Geography & Environmental Sciences.

The final day also presented an opportunity for Dr Johanne Brolly from Royal Society of Chemistry to share a little about her work and Darryl McCullagh, Educational Outreach Officer in the University’s School Outreach team, shared information about Ulster University's Discovery Academy to the school teachers.

Beverley McCormick, Lecturer in the School of Education, explains:

“We were delighted to invited 25 Primary school teachers and World Around Us Coordinators from schools across Northern Ireland to this 3-day event held on the Coleraine campus, along with approximately 20 students on or recently graduated from ITE universities (including Ulster University, Stranmillis College University and St Mary’s College University). 

"During the programme, we were able to provide those educating our young children in schools, with advice, resources and a new way of thinking when it comes to teaching STEM in the classroom that will help the next generation to form a wiser, more sustainable relationship with the environment.

"I would like to thank colleagues across the University, including Professor David Barr, for their support in this project by sharing their knowledge and expertise that contributed to the success of this 3-day event.”

The initiative was made possible thanks to support from bursaries kindly provided by Deliberate Learning Ltd (through the ENTHUSE partnership programme).

Funding through the project enabled the teachers to engage in high quality CPD, access a range of resources and materials to support their teaching.

Alexandra McGinley, a graduate from St Mary’s College University Belfast, said:

“Today was very insightful and allowed me to consider how to foster positive attitudes in children and other teachers around sustainability through STEM teaching.”

Other feedback included:

“[This course] has given me a refresher in regard to the importance of teaching STEM and the benefits of clustering with other partners in order to improve provision.”

“Brilliant content, wonderful resources and excellent delivery.”

“As a result of this course I am…’ More enthusiastic and ready to introduce more STEM based lessons into my teaching.”

“It showed me so many great resources and activities for teaching about the ocean and other water-based topics. It has also equipped me better to use technology to deliver these activities.”

“It has developed my confidence and enthused me to remember how important STEM teaching is in the classroom.”

Find out more:

If you have any further queries about the project, contact Beverley McCormick by email to

For more information on the Northern Ireland STEM Ambassador programme, visit or email Dr Anna Monaghan

About World Ocean Day:

World Oceans Day was first proposed in 1992 at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, and was officially recognised by the United Nations in 2008.

Celebrated annually on 8 June, World Oceans Day serves as a reminder of the crucial role the ocean plays in our lives and the urgent need to address the various challenges it faces.

It is primarily intended to raise awareness of the threats facing the marine environment, which include plastic pollution, rising sea temperatures linked to climate change, and over-fishing.