Despite the easing of rules over the last few weeks, restrictions are gong to stay in place for a while yet and this is something that could really affect some students over the summer - who will be denied their usual diet of sports camps, Gaeltacht visits, and endless hanging out in shopping centres. Some may even fill the vacuum with thoughts of science related material, and I've been looking for things to suggest where that is the case. I've settled on the concept of Citizen Science.
I became aware of the concept last year via the wonderful GLOBE programme run in Ireland by an Taisce. I'm sure that pretty much everybody involved in science education would be in favour of the general principle: the collection (and analysis) of scientific data by members of the general public, often as part of collaborative project with professional scientists. It's the sort of thing that can be easy to approve of, though, while struggling to find a way of getting involved.
Which is why its good that the EPA has a whole section dedicated to supporting or running Citizen-Science projects, all listed in their website here.
Among their projects are:
Borrowing a Digital Radon Monitor from your local library
Explore Your Shore (monitoring and recording coastal life)
Air Quality Project (CleanAir@Schools)
Radon in Homes
RECONNECT (looking at the impact of flow barriers on freshwater biology
REPORTING LITTERING AND DUMPING
The other thing I've trying to do is to come up with a list of good books that students might like to read. Books that might back up what they learn in school, but more than anything are just good reads. I suspect that this list could never be completed or perfected - and there are dozens of on-line lists already - so this is and always will a very personal work-in-progress, focussing on books that I have either read myself or mean to read soon. Some of these would be a bit heavy for younger readers, I imagine, but I like easy-to-read books myself, so I think they would hold broad appeal...
Electric Universe and E = mc2 by David Bodanis (which I'm currently re-reading. Very enjoyable)
In search of Schrodinger's Cat, (and many other books) by John Gribben
Any more suggestions welcome!