Green Schools; Biodiversity; A Good News Story about Wolves!

Hungry like the...
Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Valerie via Compfight

When we were learning about Biodiversity earlier in the year,

we learned a lot about food webs and food chains.

Then we learned about the snow leopard.

We learned what would happen to its food web

and its habitat if it became extinct.

We found a really interesting video

that we think you may be interested in.

It is on Vimeo so you can watch it in class.

Made by Greg Haines, it tells about the good things

that happened to the food web

and the habitat in Yellowstone Park

when wolves were reintroduced.

We think you will like it.

Celebrating Past Pupil Success: A Guest Post from Emily H

We are always very interested to hear about the success of our past pupils. Earlier in the year we told you about a student who is having great success musically. We called that post ‘Mighty Oaks from Little Acorns grow’ . We could call this one ‘Monterey Pines from Tiny Pine Seeds grow’ as it is about the success Emily H had when she grew Monterey Pine Trees from seeds and made a real contribution to our local community. But let Emily tell you about her project in her own words.

Growing Monterey Pine Trees From Seed


My project is to show how I grew Monterey pines from seed.

I did this project because I have always had an interest

in growing things from a very young age.

It was helped along when my Granddad

contacted the former Mayor George Jones

to see if he would be interested in having

some of the trees I had already planted

and succeeded in growing for the Greystones community.


Mr Jones agreed and now as you can see from press cuttings

there is one of my trees in Burnaby Park

opposite the train station

BeFunky_Burnaby Park.jpg

and also they took some of my trees

and planted them along Shoreline car park.

BeFunky_Burnaby Park.jpg

I am very proud of these trees and so I thought that

I could grow some more for my science project for school


Gather pine cones and place them in the full sun to dry them out.

Once dried they will open up for easier retrieval of the seeds.

BeFunky_Monterey Pine Cone.jpg

Place the cones on a paper towel

and roll them gently until the seeds fall out.


Place the seeds in a container

with room temperature of water.

The ones that sink will be the best growers.

Plant the seed in pots, pointed end down and cover with soil.

Keep watering and when the seeds fall off

they can be transplanted to a larger container.

I will be keeping a diary following the progress of the trees.

Day 1

Date : 12.6.13

I planted the seeds in the compost pointed side down and watered them.

Day 2

Date : 13.6.13

Still no progress will be back in 2 weeks.

Day 11

Date : 25.6.13

We have our first Monterey shoot. The seed is still on the top.

BeFunky_First shoot.jpg

Day 12 

Date : 26.6.13

We have our second seed shoot. Also seed on top.

First seedling has now lost its seed.


Day 19

Date: 3.7.13

We now have 13 Monterey pine tree shoots.

BeFunky_Day 19.jpg

Day 25

Date: 9.7.13

We have 17 Monterey Pine tree shoots.

Day 35

Date: 19.7.13

BeFunky_Day 45.jpg

The trees are growing fast.

Day 45

Date: 29.7.13

Still progressing well.

Day 55

Date: 8.8.13 

Strong and healthy trees growing fast.

BeFunky_Day 65.jpg 

Day 65

Date: 18.8.13

Progressing well.

Day 75

Date: 28.8.13

Nearing end of project the trees are strong and healthy.

BeFunky_Day 75.jpg

About Monterey Pines

The Monterey pine, also known as the Radiata pine is a species of pine native to the coast of California. It’s the most widely planted pine in the world, valued for rapid growth and desirable lumber and pulp qualities.

Its native to 3 very limited areas located in Santa Cruz, Monterey peninsula, and San Luis Obispo counties. In Australia, New Zealand and Spain it is the leading introduced tree and in Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Kenya and South Africa it is a major plantation species.

Monterey pine has a very small natural range on the central Californian coast, south of San Fransico and on Guadalupe and Cerdros islands off the coast of Baja California in Mexico.

Monterey pine grows best on deep, rich, dry soils or on infertile sandy soil types. It has also shown promise on old red sandstone soil in Munster. It will not do well on wet, shallow ground. It grows vigorously and is known to have a longer growing season than other conifers. In Ireland, Monterey’s commonly suffers from the ”yellows”, a disease sometimes associated with the fungus cyclaneusma minus which results in the yellowing and loss of all the previous years’ needles.

Photo Credit: Wendy Cutler via Compfight


I found this project very satisfying because I enjoy growing and the output of this project will have a long term effect on the environment.

They help the environment by a number of factors:

1. Trees reduce Carbon Dioxide – the same way humans breathe oxygen and exhale Carbon Dioxide, trees breathe in Carbon Dioxide and exhale Oxygen.  This Carbon Dioxide becomes sugars that can be eaten, burnt for fuel or enjoyed in its leafy form.

2. Trees reduce ozone levels – In  large cities a reduction in ozone can mean milder temperatures and more breathable air.

3. Trees reduce erosion by their roots keeping soil from washing away but also they absorb and store water.

4. Trees provide an ecosystem for animals and insects  by providing a home and  food for them.

Every tree is a potential life-saver to certain species

Green Schools: Biodiversity: Brigid teaches Polly about how bees are endangered.


Polly the Polar Bear, has come to visit St. Brigid’s Greystones,

all the way from St. Peter’s in Bray.

She has come to visit Brigid the Biodiversity Bee

and has told her all about Polar Bears

and why they are endangered.

This is the story so far.

Now it is Brigid’s turn,

to tell Polly her side of the story.


‘Well first, said Brigid,

‘it is important to know about the important job bees do:

Read all about the important job that bees do HERE.

You can read more about that important job of pollinating flowers here.

Why are bees endangered?

Well you can find out the answer to this question if you click on this link.

‘We’ve done a lot of good work,’ said Polly.

I think it is time, I thought about getting back to Bray…’

Watch out 2nd Class, St.Peter’s,

Polly is on her way back to you 🙂


Green Schools: Biodiversity: Polly explains how we can help Polar Bears

Polly the Polar Bear, has come to visit St. Brigid’s, Greystones all the way from St.Peter’s in Bray. She has come to visit Brigid the Biodiversity Bee and tell her all about Polar Bears and why they are endangered.

Click on this link for the story so far.

on top of the world
Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Lori Greig via Compfight

Polly explained that ‘reducing our carbon footprint’ will reduce global warming and that will help the polar bears. We can do this by:

1. Turning off lights, computers, TVs and other electrical equipment when we are not using them.

2. Turning off the water while we’re brushing our teeth.

3. Walking or cycling instead of using the car.

4.  Not wasting paper. Remember to reduce, reuse and recycle.

5. Growing your own food.

6. Buying food that is grown locally


Polly said that you can find your carbon footprint

and how to reduce it by using this 

Kids’ Carbon Calculator from Cool The


‘Well,’ said Polly, now you have heard all about Polar Bears and why they are endangered perhaps you can tell me about bees’.

‘Why certainly,’ said Brigid. ‘That’s what we will do tomorrow’. 

Green Schools: Biodiversity: Polly explains to Brigid why Polar Bears are Endangered

Click on this link to see how this story began:

St.Peter’s Polar Bear, Polly came to visit Brigid the Biodiversity Bee and St.Brigid’s.

Polly and Brigid had a long chat today.

Polly told Brigid all about Polar Bears

and why they are endangered.

Dreaming of ice and snow and frozen fish
Creative Commons License Photo Credit: patries71 via Compfight

Polly said: ‘Click on the top tab on this link from Kids National

where it says ‘Video and Sound’

to see some of my Polar Bear cousins’.


Polly said: ‘You can also learn about Polar Bears here:

Polar Bears for Kids – Polar Bears


Brigid was wondering where Polar Bears lived.

Polly explained Polar Bears are found in the wild

in Alaska, Canada, Russia, Greenland and Norway.

They are carnivores.

They don’t drink water.

They get the liquids they need from the food they eat.

Did you know Polar Bears are amazing long distance swimmers?

High Five!!
Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Valerie via Compfight

Polar bear feet act like snowshoes.

polar bear in snow shoes
Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Ali Haines via Compfight

Brigid wanted to know why Polar Bears are endangered.

Polly explained that polar Bears are endangered because of global warming.

Polar bears can only survive in places where the oceans freeze.

This is because they hunt the seals  that live on, or under the frozen ice.

Because of global warming the ice isn’t there long enough during the hunting season

for the polar bear to catch enough seals,to have enough food for the year.

They have to ‘fast’ for months.


‘That make me hungry,’ said Polly. ‘Let’s take a break. I’ll tell you more tomorrow’.

‘I know a lovely place in Greystones where you can get

delicious and nutritious locally produced food,’ said Brigid.

So off they went…

The Happy Pear
Creative Commons License Photo Credit: aonghus via Compfight

Green Schools: Brigid the Biodiversity Bee is Back!

Our Green Schools Mascot, Brigid the Biodiversity Bee

has been going from class to class,

spreading the news about biodiversity.

She took time out from her busy schedule to make this slideshow,

showing how we are encouraging biodiversity around the school.

If you would like to read more about what we have done

click on this link to our Green Schools Blog

Green Schools: Biodiversity: Spring Visitors


On Valentine’s Day, as part of working towards

our Green Schools Flag and learning about Biodiversity

a kind Dad brought two lambs into visit each class in the school.

These visitors caused great excitement

and were as enthusiastically received in Sixth Class

as in Junior Infants.

You can read more about their visit

and the rest of the work we are doing on Biodiversity

on the school’s Green School Blog

Green Schools: Biodiversity: Wild Irish Land Mammals

Irish Mammals

The Red deer is the largest Irish land mammal.

Red Deer
Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Adriaan Westra via Compfight

Fallow deer were introduced by the Normans.

Fallow Deer
Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Dell’s Pics via Compfight

Japanese Sika deer were introduced to

Powercourt Estate, in County Wicklow, in the 19th century.

Sika Stag - Arne
Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Liz Dale via Compfight

The Irish for Pine marten is ‘Cait Crann’.

This means ‘Tree Cat’.


Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Sangudo via Compfight

This is an Otter

Oriental Short-Clawed Otter 2
Photo Credit: Stuart Richards via Compfight

The American mink was introduced to Ireland in the 1940s.

It was to be farmed for its fur.

Escapees from the early 1960s onwards

resulted in wild mink.

Mink 06-13-11
Creative Commons License Photo Credit: nebirdsplus via Compfight

A Badger is a nocturnal animal.

Photo Credit: hehaden via Compfight

This is an Irish stoat.

Photo Credit: Peter Trimming via Compfight

A Red Fox is a carnivore.

Red Fox
Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Art G. via Compfight

A Rabbit is a herbivore.

Rabbit on its haunches
Photo Credit: Jack Wolf via Compfight

Can you see how an Irish hare is different

from a rabbit?


Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Jon Culver via Compfight

The Pygmy shrew and the Pipistrelle bat

are the smallest Irish mammals.

Pygmy Shrew
Creative Commons License Photo Credit: philip hay via Compfight

Did you know that Hedgehogs are excellent climbers?

Creative Commons License Photo Credit: David Reece via Compfight

Here is the Grey squirrel. Approximately five pairs were brought to Ireland in 1911. They were given as a wedding present. They escaped and went to live in the wild.

Nut Face
Photo Credit: Ian Sane via Compfight

Here is a Red squirrel. 

whisky frisky
Photo Credit: jenny downing via Compfight

The Bank vole came to Ireland from Germany,

in soil from earth moving equipment that was

used to build a dam at Ardnacrusha in 1925.

Bank vole
Creative Commons License Photo Credit: nutmeg66 via Compfight

There are many kinds of bats in Ireland.

This is the smallest: the Pipistrelle.

Photo Credit: Bill Tyne via Compfight

Other wild Irish mammals include, the House Mouse, the Wood Mouse, the Brown Rat and the Feral Goat. You can find out more about them on this link to Wicklow Mountains National

Green Schools: Biodiversity: Why Are Bees Dying Out?

Galápagos interlude 2
Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Max Westby via Compfight

In many parts of the world, honeybees are dying. This is causing a lot of worry. This is because be pollinate important food crops.

Scientists are trying to figure out why bees are dying.

What makes this mystery really hard to solve is that bees are hard to study.

1. Most bees die away from the hive, so the scientists don’t have any dead bees to examine.

2. Bees have a natural life cycle and because if this when scientist return to a hive after even two weeks, about half the bees they studied on their first visit will be dead and they will be replaced by new ones.

3. Being a scientist detective is even trickier because, bees travel up to 3 kilometres away from their hive to find nectar from flowers. So that when bees become ill or poisoned, it is hard to know where the damage was done.

Scientists do have some ideas about what could be causing the bees to die.

1. They could be poisoned by insect sprays that people use to kill insects that are pests. Another name for these insect sprays are pesticides and insecticides.

2. We learned about overgrazing when we heard about what could happen if the Snow Leopard, for example disappeared from the food chain. See this link on our school’s Green Schools Blog to find out. Overgrazing would mean the fields and meadows when the bees get their food would be destroyed.

3. Bees may not be getting enough food to be strong and healthy. This is also because the habitats where their food grows; meadows and fields and being taken over by building.

Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Kacper Gunia via Compfight

For example: Where we live around Greystones used be full of meadows, fields and forests. Now they are full of houses.

The hints that this happened are in the names of some of the estates.

1. So Heathervue was once a hillside covered in heather, whether the bees could collect nectar.

six-petaled apple, or some other rose
Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Martin LaBar via Compfight

2. Perhaps there were cherry trees in Delgany before the houses in Cherry Glade  and Cherry Drive were built.

There are other reasons too, that scientists think that the number of bees is falling.

1. They think that tiny insects called mites feed on bees.

2. Others think that it is a virus or bacteria that is damaging the bee population.

Most of all it is important to protect the bee population because they pollinates so many plants that become food for the human race.

Green Schools: Biodiversity: Pollination – An Important Job that Bees Do.

As part of the work we are doing in school for our fifth Green School Flag on the theme of Biodiversity, we are learning about bees and pollination.

Honey bees help plants to make the fruit and nuts we like to eat, by carrying pollen from one plant or flower to the next. Important crops like oats, corn and wheat are pollinated by the wind. But many other plants like apple trees, depend on birds, bats and insects.

Bees don’t wake up each morning and set off to go pollinating plants and flowers. Their instinct it to collect nectar from the flowers. They feed this sweet liquid to the Queen Bee. Even though the pollinating that they do is a very important job for the world, the bees do it by accident.

This is how it happens: If you look at a bee close up, you will see that they have hairy legs and bodies. The pollen on the flowers stick to their hairy bodies.

Here is a picture:

Bee on Dandelion

Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Reinhold Stansich via Compfight

We have learned that our supermarket shelves would be empty of many of the fruits and vegetables that are available there, if it weren’t for bees. Click on this link  to see a list of these on our school’s Green School Blog.

As well as the fruit and vegetables that we eat, many of the animals that live on our farms, eat foods that bees pollinate. It is said that every third spoonful that we eat, we have thanks to the work of the honey bees. If bees weren’t around to pollinate the plants, we wouldn’t have a choice of as many different foods to eat.

If you would like to read more about bees and pollination, check out these useful links.

Many thanks to Klaudia, Sinead, Zara and Sarah from Fourth Class for researching this information.

Green Schools: Biodiversity: The Snow Leopard: their diet

Our school is working towards our 5th Green School Flag.

The theme for this flag is Biodiversity.

As part of this project we have adopted a Snow Leopard.

Snow Leopards are an endangered species.

Snow Leopards are top of the food chain.

Djamila the snow leopard princess
Photo Credit: Tambako The Jaguar via Compfight

What do Snow Leopards like to eat?

Dr. Rodney Jackson is a leading expert on Snow Leopards
from the Snow Leopard Conservancy.

He said in a year a snow leopard from a National Park in India ate:

Highland wildlife park  (14)
Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Peter Hopper via Compfight
This is a ‘blue sheep’ also called a Bharal.

blue sheep 

(Blue sheep are wild sheep.

They are slate grey in colour.

People say they look blueish)

9 Tibetan woolly hare,

25 marmot,

(Marmots are large squirrels)

5 domestic goats

(Domestic animals are tamed by man.

Farm animals are domestic.)

1 domestic sheep

and 15 birds.
Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Jeroen Krah via Compfight
This is a marmot.

You can read more about the Snow Leopard here: 

Snow Leopard

So what do you think would happen 

if the snow leopard became extinct 

and was no longer in this food chain?

You can see the answer to this question 

on this link  to our school’s Green Schools Blog.

Student Request: ‘Caine’s Arcade’ 1&2

We talked about recycling.

We watched this film about an American boy

who created an arcade from cardboard boxes

Caine’s Arcade’ – The Story Begins

‘Caine’s Arcade’ – A World Wide Movement!

enjoy Niagara Falls
Photo Credit: Theodore C via Compfight

We talked about the ‘power of one’.

One boy’s imagination inspired others.

One film maker’s kindness helped Caine realise a dream.

Together they started a world wide movement.

Seomra Ranga’s ‘Signs of Autumn’ Twitter Project #an fomhar

Following on from the fun we had doing the

Signs of Spring Twitter Project 2013

we are taking part in Seomra Ranga’s Twitter project

about the Signs of Autumn this week.


We are tweeting photos and comments

about signs of Autumn that we see #anfomhar.

You can see more details about this project

on this link to Seomra

The photos we took exceeded the 3MB limit on Twitter

so we could not load them.

So we put them all on this Photopeach slideshow.

#anfomhar Signs of Autumn – The Nature & Art Mix on PhotoPeach

They are a mixture of the nature we saw

and the Autumn art that is being done in the school.


Here are some Autumn Jokes!

Here is an Autumn Song. 

Here is an Autumn Poem.


We enjoyed the Twitter project and we love talking to other classes on Twitter.

Green Schools; Biodiversity; Pollination; Useful Links

Photo Credit: Antonio Picascia via Compfight

We are working towards our fifth Green Flag.

We are learning about Biodiversity.

As part of this we are learning about

the importance of bees

and pollination.


If you would like to learn about this too,

here are some useful links:


1. A short introduction from ‘Pollination Canada’

Pollination for Kids and Teachers


2. Colourful and eye catching explanations

of pollination and pollinators from

Kids Growing


3. A more detailed account is to be found

on the US Forestry site:

Our Future Flies on the Wings of Pollinators.


Vermont Wildflowers
Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Marty Desilets via Compfight 

Here are two videos on Vimeo:

This first one is from Oxford University Press.

An animation by Mark Ruffle, it is

less than a minute long,

and is about bee pollination:

Pollination: Science Animation


This second video is less just over seven minutes long.

Introduced by filmmaker Louie Schwartzberg

the real life film footage begins after three minutes.

Though inspired by the vanishing of the honeybee,

the high speed camera work also features pollinators

such as the hummingbird, butterflies and bats.

‘The Hidden Beauty of Pollination’.


And finally, some food for thought

from the TTA Science Department:


Pollination 3

Click HERE for a closer look 😉

Green Schools: How to make your lunch green&other interesting questions!

If you would like to know

Who has been eating our cabbages?

What is a Bioblitz?

or How to make your lunch green?

Green Food
Creative Commons License Photo Credit: elycefeliz via Compfight

All these questions are answered on

our school’s Green School Blog

You can visit it HERE.


There you can also read about the Little Terns at Kilcoole 

or about the Ladybird invasion in County Wicklow  this Summer

and the importance of bees.

Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Eric via Compfight

New & Improved Seaside Scavenger Hunt

Now that Summer is here,

we will be trying our own

New And Improved Seaside Scavenger Hunt

Sea of love.

This Scavenger Hunt was written especially for

Greystones South Beach.


We will choose only the things that we can collect

and return safely and without damage.


1. A small black pebble

2. A feather

3. A pebble with a hole in it

4. A mermaid’s purse

(dog fish egg case or whelk egg case)

5. A limpet (or part of)

6. A mussel (or part of)

7. A whelk (or part of)

8. Something beautiful

9. Some sea lettuce

10. A sea belt

11. Some bladder wrack

12. Something that makes a noise

13. A small white pebble

14. A pink flower

15. Something soft

16. A yellow flower

17. Something important in nature

(Everything in nature is important!)

18. A small grey pebble

19. Any part of a crab

20. Something that reminds you of yourself

21. A white flower

22. A sun trap (This is anything that captures the sun’s heat)

23. More than 100 of something!

24. Something that the sea has changed

25. A creature’s home (make sure it is empty).

26. Something round

27. A big smile


At the end we will leave what we have found on the beach.

We will:

‘Leave only footprints. Take only memories’.

‘The Adventure Of A Cardboard Box’

Here are two videos on Vimeo

about recycling which we enjoyed in class.


Both videos are about recycling cardboard boxes.

Cardboard Box
Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Douglas Porter via Compfight

Both feature boys of eight or nine years of age.

The first one, is fictional

and the second one really happened.

Which is your favourite?

The Adventure of A Cardboard Box

How many ways does the hero in this video

use the box?


The 2nd video is about this boy.

His name is Caine.
Caine's Arcade at the Exploratorium
Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Exploratorium via Compfight

Caine’s Arcade


Did you ever make anything out of a cardboard box?

If you want to know what happened next, take a look at

Caine’s Arcade 2

Thanks to Louise Brooks, a primary school teacher in Brisbane, Australia for letting us know about ‘The Adventures of A Cardboard Box’ and Ms. Norton’s class also from Australia who told us about Caine’s Arcade 🙂

Schools Competition: This is the future we see for Dublin

We entered a competition run by Dublin City Council about the future we see for Dublin.

We wrote an essay …

The Future of Dublin

This is the future that we see for Dublin.  

If we use sun power,


and pedal power

we can improve the transport system in our capital city.


Transport need not all be at ground level.

Windpowered transport would fly above the city with sun powered vehicles.

Wheeled transport and pedal power would move at ground level.

Some transport could travel underneath the ground. Boats would travel along the river.

All vehicles would be light weight and designs would be good.

 Further in the Future of Dublin


With the transport at three levels:

 above the city,

 on the ground

 and below the ground,

 traffic jams would be history.


With transport being powered by the sun,

the wind

and pedal power,

traffic would not make noise.

Nor would there be the smell of petrol

and exhaust fumes.

Dublin in the Sunshine

In this way it will be more attractive for people to cycle

and to walk in the city of Dublin.

People will be healthier and more fit and they will be happier.


Dublin will be greener and cleaner.

There will be no pollution from cars and lorries.

Nature and wildlife will return to Dublin and the river.


Evening in Dublin


Parking of these new vehicles would be in the underground

and multi-storey car parks that are already there, 

but outdoor carparks can be turned into parks where people can walk and sit.

Trees and plants will grow happily.


Dublin will be the same in ways.

The Spire and the Custom House will still be there.

But we will build on the beauty of the city.

It will be a capital city to be even more proud of.

Tourists will visit to see what has been achieved.

This is the future we see for Dublin.

Morning in Dublin 

And then we wrote a poem:

We can see Dublin in the future.

We hear the gentle traffic hum.

We taste success .

We smell fresh air.

We touch the heart of the city.


We see the bright spire.

We hear happy talk.

We taste an energy.

We smell clean water.

We touch the soul of the city.


A light, bright Dublin

Shiny like a new coin

Strong and green like an oak tree.

Sparkling like the Liffey in the sun


We would like to go there now.

The sooner, the better.

We hope it is not a long journey.

If we start now,

We will get there quicker.


‘Well done’ the children will say.

Let’s keep it this way!

We say goodbye to noise pollution.

And so long …

to dirt and grime.

We say slán leat …

to lead poisoning

And fáilte romhat …

to a bright new day.

We worked collaboratively and we illustrated our work using an online digital tool called Scribbler.

Nightime in Dublin


Congratulations and Well Done

to Fourth Class, Griffith Barracks MDNS.  

You can read their imaginative and innovative ideas here