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St Louis Grammar School teacher receives award at top STEM event
INSPIRED by his own experiences at a prestigious science exhibition as a student, teacher Sean Donnelly has now been recognised at the same event for his work as a teacher. It was with shock and surprise that the St Louis Grammar School teacher accepted the Analog Devices Educator of Excellence award during the recent BT Science and Technology Exhibition in Dublin.
Presented to a teacher who demonstrates high levels of commitment each year and consistently exhibits quality work, Mr Donnelly said the award was an acknowledgement of the work put in by not only himself, but pupils and staff as well. He was given the accolade following an informal interview during the exhibition which highlighted his enthusiasm and commitment to the subject and his work.
As part of his prize, the Warrenpoint man was also given a £2,500 travel voucher.
His participation at the exhibition, held at the RDS from Wednesday 9 to Saturday 12 January, was primarily to allow six students to showcase three projects which they had worked on, both in class and after school.
The exhibition, which attracts thousands of entries from schools all over Ireland, promotes the STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics) subjects and offers the budding young scientists and technologists of tomorrow a prestigious platform to showcase their ideas.
Mr Donnelly entered projects into the exhibition during his own school days in Newry, and is a firm believer that it offers a wealth of benefits to both pupils and staff.
Since his arrival at St Louis Grammar School in Kilkeel in 2009, Mr Donnelly has been entering students into the exhibition as he believes it offers them the opportunity to research and investigate projects that they would not normally have the opportunity to in the classroom environment.
Driven on by the enthusiasm and passion of his students, he said the benefits students gain from such an experience are wide ranging.
“The competition offers a great platform for the kids to showcase their ability,” he said. “It adds to their whole education and enhances both their communication and social skills.“We take them to it year in and year out, and they tend to want to continue that love affair with the subject,” he added.“Pupils get so much out of it and they are enthusiastic and committed. They want to do it and are very keen.”
He is also keen that pupils realise extra-curricular activities do not always have to be in the traditional areas, such as sports.“That's not always the case,” he said. “There are events out there that can also enhance knowledge and thinking of technology and science.”
Paying tribute to the pupils' efforts, Mr Donnelly said they had worked extremely hard. “As a teacher you don't go to events such as this to win awards and I would happily split it in six for the pupils, but it was a great achievement for them to be accepted in the first place to exhibit,” he said.
They were chosen out of more than 3,000 entrants to be included in the 550 exhibitions at the event. “With the calibre of winners you have to stand back and appreciate the work that our pupils were doing,” he said. “We appreciate what they have achieved, and they have done so much. “It was a fantastic opportunity for them and they now have experience they can put on their CV. And the whole event leaves a legacy in terms of their future careers and enjoyment of the subject,” he added.
“As a teacher when an opportunity arises to showcase the innovative work of students, I jump at it.”
Adding that he felt honoured to win as a teacher at St Louis, which was in 2009 designated as the first Technology Specialist School in Northern Ireland, Mr Donnelly thanked students for their continued enthusiasm and teaching colleagues for their encouragement. “Without the constant support of my colleagues, and in particular Mr Martin, entering this event would not be possible,” he added.
Students devise range of ingenious devices
WITH 550 entries from pupils all over Ireland, competition was fierce in the Technology category, but the designs created by the St Louis pupils were ingenious ways of making a difference to lives. Year nine students Thomas O'Hare and Cliodhna Grant came up with an ultrasonic walking aid for the visually impaired, which alerted the user to any objects in their way. Thomas explained that they came up with the idea after seeing a statistic which informed them that one person in the world goes blind every five seconds.
Year 10 pupils Ciara Keenan and Aoife Sloan designed the ‘hands on’ project which is a steering wheel that emits a buzzing noise if the driver has their hands off it for more than three seconds. They came up with the idea after seeing the current DOE advertisements on road safety on television and in particular one advertisement which depicts a driver being distracted by a tractor.
Niall Quinn and Rory O'Boyle's ‘portable lifeguard’ uses FM radio signals between two devices to warn of rising tide levels. The year 11 pupils explained that the lights on the devices light up depending on how far away the tide is.
All agreed it was a great experience and an enjoyable trip, and each of them would do it again next year.
St Louis principal Kevin Martin commended the achievements of the pupils.
“I congratulate our students on their application and initiative in entering this competition,” he said. “They have presented themselves as great ambassadors.”
South Down MLA and former St Louis GS principal, Sean Rogers, extended his congratulations to those involved. “Months and months of research and hard work have gone into these projects and all credit must go to the students for the innovative projects and their teachers who have supported them all the way. “It is very encouraging to see such an emphasis on the promotion of STEM subjects in our schools,” Mr Rogers added.
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|Submited On:||08/02/2013||Posted On:||08/02/2013||Expires On:||08/02/2014|