Why Ireland? Why Now?

It is essential that our young people leave school “with the ability to engage with science-related issues, and with the ideas of science as a reflective citizen” (OECD 2017, p7). Over the past thirty years, science education has moved from an emphasis on teaching and assessing scientific content towards the development of students’ scientific literacy (Murphy et al. 2019; EU 2015). 

In Ireland, there are concerns regarding Irish primary pupils’ engagement with and understanding of the physics’ component of the Primary Science Curriculum (DES, 2012: Varley et al 2008; Murphy et al., 2011). Findings from the most recent 2015 TIMSS cycle revealed that while Irish fourth class primary school students performed relatively well on Earth science topics they displayed a relative weakness on Physical science topics (Clerkin et al 2016). It is apparent that many Irish young people have difficulty grappling with science concepts and scientific terminology, and this is particularly the case in relation to physics’ concepts (Eivers and Clerkin, 2103; Clerkin 2016; Murphy 2013). 


Against this backdrop, our project explores the use of embodied cognition, to support upper primary school students in making sense of and understanding physics’ concepts. To this end, we are involving parents, teachers and pupils in ‘embodied cognition’ activities.