Curious Minds

Step 1: Science 

Living Things

1. Design and Make Bird Feeders

The boys and girls in Junior infants are looking after the birds during the winter. They worked hard making bird feeders which they filled up with some tasty seeds. They hung the bird feeders in the trees in the school garden. They completed a sequencing activity of the experiment.

They enjoy watching the birds come to the feeders from their class window. 

Living Things:

2. Plants and Animals: Autumn Nature Walk 

Junior Infants went on an Autumn nature walk.  The boys and girls examined the natural environment for signs of Autumn such as fallen leaves, trees with different coloured leaves, conkers, acorns, blackberries and so on.  Great fun was had.   

Living Things:

3. Plants and Animals: Animals in the cold 

Junior Infants learned all about how animals living in colder climates stay warm.  The boys and girls learned about how the polar bears and penguins have a layer of fat under their fur and feathers to keep them warm from the cold.  The children explored how Vaseline is similar to the layer of fat these animals have as it repelled water.   

Energy and Forces

1. Energy and Forces: Chemical Energy 

The zebra class (2nd & 3rd) investigated chemical reactions by making lava lamps. Before carrying out the experiment, they predicted what would happen. The first question was do oil and water mix and then what will happen when we add food colouring? They learned that oil and water don’t mix, that the food colouring dissolves in water and colours it. They learned that the Alka Selzer tablet causes a chemical reaction when it reacts with the water, producing carbon dioxide gas. The children really enjoyed the experiment which you can see from the photos. 

2.Energy and Forces: Magnetism and Electricity  

The Koala class (Senior Infants) were learning all about magnets in science this week. They enjoyed investigating what objects repel and what objects attract. Have a look at the young scientists carrying out the investigation in the photos below.  

3.Energy and Forces: Heat 

Lion Class (6th) designed and made an insulating cup. They were given a choice of insulating materials, in pairs they designed a cup that would keep an ice cube frozen as long as possible. Without an insulating cup the ice cube melted in 20 mins . It took over 4 hours for the ice cube of  the winners of our STEM project to fully melt!


1.Material and Change: Egg Experiment

The Koala class (Senior Infants) were doing the dentist for Aistear. As part of the theme for the week the class were exploring different liquids that can damage the enamel on our teeth. The class used eggs to test this.

As a whole class we submerged a raw egg in water, tea, 7-up and vinegar. The children predicted what would happen to each of the eggs. Most of the class thought that the 7-up would be the worst for the eggs.

After a couple of days the class checked what the eggs looked like now. The class drew a picture of each egg and what they looked like at the end of the experiment.

Environmental Awareness and Care 

1.Plant and animal life

Our gardening group children from 3rd to 6th class were hard at work when they returned to school in September. They were tasked with weeding the sensory garden and getting the pots and tubs around the school ready for planting bulbs. All their hard work has been worth it as we are enjoying the beautiful flowers and the school environment looks fantastic.

2.Solar Energy in the Community

The Lion Class (6th Class) undertook a project to investigate Solar Energy in the Community.

Our project on Solar Energy in our Community involved investigating and researching many areas of science. It included changing solar into electrical energy as well as energy in our diets. We prepared food chains as examples of energy in our diets and everyday lives.

We asked parents in our school community about solar energy in their homes. Then we took the data and made it into colourful graphs. We learned about the Solar Farms installed in Eli Lilly from Eamon Judge who came to visit us in Nohoval. Then for even more information for our project we did an experiment on Cress Seeds in different light conditions and designed and made solar ovens.

Why this project?

Solar Energy in Our Community

Solar power in our community is the project we have been working on for the past few months. We chose this project because we read about the rising cost of electricity partly caused by the war in Ukraine.

We found out that energy can not be made or destroyed -it can only be changed from one form to another form. Plants have their own inbuilt solar panels, they use a process called photosynthesis to change sunlight into a sugar or food for the plant. During our project we found out that the sun is vital for growing plants, crops and food.

We also had a special guest Éamonn Judge from Eli Lily who came to our school to tell us about their solar farm. After all our research we found out that solar panels definitely work better in the months June, July and August and then the lowest output would be in the months December, January and February. People are still trying to figure out how to make better batteries for storing electricity made into the solar panels.

We decided to try an experiment on one of the coldest days – we put out solar ovens that we had designed on Friday 9th December with squares of chocolate. The temperature was 2 degrees Celsius and it did not melt even in the direct sunlight.

By Zoe And Niamh

Solar Energy in Industry

Eamonn Judge came to visit our school on Wednesday the 23rd of November 2022.He works for Eli Lilly a company near our local town Kinsale. The company makes all kinds of medicines. He taught us about the solar farm at Eli Lilly and how solar energy is used to power parts of the factory. At Eli Lilly they have a huge solar farm that spans 16 acres with a total of 12,600 panels.

He showed us a graph of how solar energy increases in the summer and decreases in the winter. May, June and July were the best months for the solar farm. All the solar panels are black because they attract the most sunlight. Eli Lilly found solar panels so beneficial that they decided to invest into a new solar farm. Solar panels are good for the environment and don’t rely on burning fossil fuels which damage the environment .

 Now they have a second solar farm being installed their solar panels are like sunflowers they track the sun by turning to the sun all through the day to get the maximum amount of energy, they used to all face south, now some face east and west so wherever the sun is in the sky some of the panels will be facing it directly.

They use sheep that eat the grass under the solar panels to keep the grass low so it doesn’t block the sun’s view.

They estimate that by the time the next phases of the solar farm is completed towards the end of the year of 2022, the entire farm will reduce the annual use of electricity imported from the grid by Eli Lilly in Kinsale by an average of 20%. The panels are firmly connected by concrete bases which keep the solar panels in place.

Eli Lilly reckon that they will make a good profit and help in saving the world one panel at a time. At first Eli Lilly were going to install windmills but they thought that it would block the view so they thought of another environmentally friendly idea and it was solar panels! The first farm was such a success they have a second farm being installed. Thanks for reading our solar energy project and have a good day!

By Luke and Charlie

School Visit

Eamonn Judge came to our school on Wednesday November 23rd to talk about the use of solar energy in the Eli Lilly plant. Eli Lilly is a factory that makes medicines near us. Some of the parents in our school work there.

Mr Judge told us all about their new solar farm.  We were shown a graph to compare the energy created in different months by the solar farm and a substantial amount, almost 700 Kwhs was created in June compared with close to just 100 KWhs in December. Another solar energy plant is being built in Dunderrow and Eli Lilly hopes to completely power its plant on solar energy. The rest of the plant is powered by ESB energy at nights and in the colder months as the panels do not have batteries installed.

The solar panels in the first farm are facing south in order to obtain maximum solar energy. The first solar farm has been so successful that they are installing another field of them, however they are not facing south they’re are some now facing west and east  so the solar panels can collect more energy from when the sun sets and rises.  Taoiseach Michael Martin opened the solar farm in July 2021. The solar farm of 12,600 panels spread over 16 acres is almost invisible from the surrounding area. The resulting solar farm costs about 5 million euros.

Due to the rise in energy prices this year the company have made back the cost of installing the solar panels much faster than they expected. They estimate that by the time the next phase of the solar farm is completed towards the end of 2022, the entire farm will reduce the annual use of electricity imported from the grid by Eli Lilly in Kinsale by an average of 20% .

We are doing this project to show that solar panels are effective, good for the environment and if we use them more then we won’t be  burning fossil fuels,  we will save money and help the environment. Some companies in our local area have shown that it is a good solution to the energy crisis and in the long term a way to change sustainable solar energy to electricity.

By: Judy, Kelly and Kate

Investigating the Effect of Light on Seed Growth


  • Cress seeds
  • Plastic trays
  • Small shoe box
  • Artificial light source
  • Compost
  • Lollipop sticks
  • Water


1.Plant seeds as per instructions.

2.Water all trays.

3.Put trays into different types of light and label as below:

  1. Tray in shoe box with a hole at the side.
  2. Tray put in room with artificial light.
  3. Tray half covered with card.
  4. Tray on windowsill in full light.
  5. Tray in cupboard with no light.


A.I think the cress will move up to the sun.

  1. It won’t grow at all.

C .The part not covered will grow.

  1. It will grow fully.
  2. It will not grow at all.


  1. The cress grew towards the window in the box. The cress was light green and grew sideways towards the light/5cm.
  2. B. The cress grew the tallest (7cm) to try find light (very leggy). Sickly yellow /green colour.
  3. C. The half that was in the light had dark green leaves and the half under the cardboard was light green and the stems bent towards the light.
  4. Very healthy growth (lush) dark green coloured leaves (3/4cm).
  5. E. Very long stems (6/7cm) but leaves were yellow not green.


Our investigation showed that seeds germinate without light but seedlings need real sunlight to grow properly and photosynthesize to make their own food.

Solar Oven Challenge Investigation


  • Empty fish and chips box
  • Black card
  • Tin foil
  • Scissors
  • Cling film
  • Sticky tape
  • Chocolate


Step 1: Make sure the  fish and chips box is clean and ready for use.

Step 2: Get  tin foil and place it in the box[make sure the tin foil is in every corner and covers all areas].

Step 3:Use sticky tape to hold the tin foil in place.

Step 4: Place your black card at the bottom of some of the boxes , leave others with just tin-foil  [make sure you glue the back of the black card ].

Step 5: Place you chocolate squares in the fish and chip box then cover the top of the box with cling film [make sure the cling film is tight then tape it to your box].

Step 6: Place your fish and chips box on a window sill and wait 3 hours

Step 7: Three hours later bring your box back inside and take off the cling film.

Step 8 Enjoy !

Our Predictions:

Before we started  this experiment we all had  to predict what would happen to the chocolate, everyone in the class thought the chocolate would melt because of the sun shining bright on  the day but the temperature was a chilly 2 degrees.

Our Results:

We discovered that the chocolate had not melted it was a sad but not a surprising result given the lack of heat in the winter sun that day.

So we found out that even though the sun light  was strong the temperature of the air was too low to let the chocolate melt.


We would like to try this project in summer. It was one of the coldest days in winter. If we tried this  experiment in summer we believe  the results would be different because in the summer Ireland  is closer to the sun so the heat will be increased and this will make the chocolate melt. 

Informal Science Activities 

1. Visit from a Scientist 

We are very lucky in Scoil Naomh Fionán that parents are willing to give their time and share their vast knowledge with the pupils. Many thanks to Pádraig O’Conchuir who came to talk to the children in 2nd and 3rd class. Pádraig works for Boston Scientific and he taught the children about some of the medical devices that are made there.

We’ll let the children tell you about the visit in their own words ……

2. Science Week

Science week was a very busy week in Rennies with all classes carrying out science experiments and investigations. Have a look at some of the experiments below.

Panda Class (1st and 2nd) investigated if balloons would be strong enough to hold a table. They also discovered that the balloons were strong enough to support the weight of children too! They enjoyed investing what happens to sugar in warm water and discovered that warm water dissolves sugar fast.

Living Things- The importance of washing your hands.

The children in Cheetah (2nd to 6th) class carried out an experiment on the importance of washing hands. First, we placed an untouched fresh slice of bread in a zip lock bag, then we touched a slice of bread with our unwashed hands and placed it in a zip lock bag. After that, we washed our hands and put a slice of fresh bread in a zip lock bag. We displayed the experiment in our classroom for a few days and monitored what happened. Check out the results.

Energy and Forces: Forces: Dancing Raisins Experiment 

The boys and girls in Junior and Senior Infants had great fun during Science Week exploring the effect that soda water had on raisins.  The class put raisins into a glass of water and a glass of soda water.  The class really enjoyed seeing the raisins being lifted up and pushed back down in the soda water.  They were thrilled to see the bubbles attach to the raisins and lift them up.   

Floating and Sinking

The boys and girls in senior infants enjoyed exploring if items would float or sink. They were also set an extra challenge – how to get an orange to sink!

The Lion class (6th class) got an opportunity to practice their CPR skills. 

The Zebra class (2nd and 3rd ) carried  out an experiment to see what happens when you put mentos in coke. They also built some amazing stable structures using just marshmallows and spaghetti.

The Butterfly class had a very busy week. They completed loads of experiments to explore gravity, forces, pulling and pushing, construction of stable structures, building rockets and bubbling volcanoes. Enjoy a movie of photos taken during the week.

Step 2 Technology

1.Record and Analyse Data

The Lion class (6th class) decided to survey the families in the school community to find out about their use of solar energy. They worked hard on designing the survey questions and they got a great response from the families. They analysed the results and generated graphs to represent the results. They got such a good response rate that they decided to incorporate this data into their project on Solar Energy in our Community. Below are the survey questions, photos of the pupils recording the results and making graphs of the results.

Solar Energy in our Community

  1. Do you have solar panels in your home?

Yes             No   

If yes do these panels heat water or do they make electricity?


  1. Do you think solar panels are a suitable energy source in this part of Ireland?

Yes       No        Maybe

  1. Would you be interested in installing solar  panels for electricity in your home?

Yes        No  

  1. Do you grow some of your own fruit or vegetables in your garden/ on your land?

Yes       No

  1. If you are farming  what crops do you grow e.g. grass, barley  etc ?


  1. Do you dry your washing

(a) on a clothesline outside  

(b) in a tumble dryer            

(c) a mixture of a and b             

(d) other                                                    

  1. Do you have any solar powered lights or lamps in your garden or home?

Yes      No 

  1. Do you have a polytunnel or a greenhouse?

Yes      No 

  1. Any other use of solar energy in your household e.g chargers etc.?


Thank you for your time and helping us our project 😊

We did a graph on solar energy to see how much people used solar energy in our community. We asked what type of  crops people grew on local farms and gardens with solar energy.                                              

19 people grew grass

2 people grew fodder beet

1 person grew apples

1 person grew pears

6 people grew wheat

11 people grew barley

3 people grew oats

1 person grew corn

3 people grew beat

1 person grew spuds

2 people grew rape seeds

3 people grew beans

1 person grew pumpkin

3 people grew maize

1 person grew sugar beat

These are the results from our survey

People grew fifteen different types of crops in their homes

Finally we asked what else  people  in our community are using solar energy to power inside their homes.

People used 8 different items with solar energy

2 people used chargers

2 people used electric fences

2 people used lights

2 people used battery packs

1 person used fairy lights

1 person used torches

2 people used calculator

1 person used bobble heads

These are the results from our survey.

People used eight different items in their homes.

Conclusions from our survey

More than a third of parents in our community already use solar panels in their home. 86%  use them  for heating water and 14% had both types of solar panels to make electrical energy and hot water. 88% of the parents in our community believe that solar panels are a great source of energy! Half of our community grow some of their own fruit and vegetables in their garden using the sun’s energy available locally.  Nearly half have solar powered lights and or lamps in their homes or gardens. 15% of our community have polytunnel or a greenhouse on their land.

Thank you for reading 😊.

2. Hour of Code

The Hour of Code is a one-hour introduction to computer science, using fun tutorials to show that anybody can learn the basics.

During the hour of code 5th class undertook the task of building a Star Wars Galaxy. They learned to program droids, and create their own Star Wars game in a galaxy far, far away. Check out the photos below.

Step 3: Engineering  

1.Materials: Properties and Characteristics of Materials. Design and Make Ear Defenders

The Koala class (Senior Infants) read the story Peace at Last. In the story Daddy Bear couldn’t sleep because it was too noisy. Using the story as a stimulus the class designed and made ear defenders using used yoghurt cartons and string. The children brought in their own teddy bears to test the ear defenders with.

The class used 4 different materials to test the best material to put into their ear defenders. We recorded our predictions on a worksheet beforehand. We played music to test each material. The materials we tested included cotton wool, newspaper, socks and tin foil. We found that cotton wool was the best sound insulator for the ear defenders.

2. Engineering In A Box

Tiger Class (4th and 5th) are currently participating in a programme called Engineering in a Box. Engineering-in-a-Box is a fun, engaging 10-week programme which will guide the engineer, children and teachers collaboratively through a variety of challenges faced by humans throughout history in the field of engineering. Janssen Pharmaceuticals are delivering the programme.

So far they have designed and built bridges, a sweet shop, windmills, boats, designed a sustainable river system and bases acid engineering. We can’t wait to see what they will be building over the coming weeks. Check out the photos below.

Step 4: Maths

1.Maths Week

Every year we register to take part in Maths Week Ireland and this year was no different. Each class engages in maths activities such as solving maths problems or puzzles, playing maths games, designing maths quizzes for their classmates or take part in teacher designed maths quizzes on Kahoot. This year the senior classes went into the junior classes to explain and play maths games. By explaining how to play the games the children got to practice using maths language and the younger children got to practice maths concepts in a hands-on fun way.  This was hugely successful and great fun was had by all. Check out some of the phots from maths week below.

2. Maths Trail

Zebra class ( 2nd and 3rd) had great fun doing a maths trail around the school grounds.

3. Maths Work Mobile

We were very lucky to have the Maths Works Mobile from Life Time Lab in Cork visit our school. Maths Works is a stimulating and fun introduction to primary maths, motivating pupils to engage primary maths through sight, sound, touch and movement. Each workshop includes a short presentation before children participate in a series of hands on maths based activities covering multiplication, symmetry, transformations and problem solving. The children from 3rd to 6th class loved all the activities and enjoyed working together to figure out the tasks.

4. Chess

The Lion class (6th class) did online chess tutorials and enjoyed playing their classmates. This gave them the opportunity to develops spatial reasoning skills, visual memory and problem-solving skills which are all transferable skills to maths.

Step 5: Show and Tell

Lion class were lucky to get allocated a place at the BT Young Scientist Primary Science Fair on Friday 13th January. The group along with Ms Wright, Ms Cleary, Ms O’ Keeffe and Ms Scanlan set off at 6:30 am and returned at 9:00pm. It was a long day but well worth it. The class  presented a project on ‘Solar Energy in Our Community’ The Primary section is non-competitive but each stand is visited by a number of judges.  Our pupils received great praise from the judges. The official photographer remarked that our project was the best presentation he had seen throughout the exhibition. We had a visit from Micheál Martin, Tánaiste, who was very impressed with our pupils and their work. Huge thanks to Ms Wright for coordinating this project.

We’ll let the pupils tell you about their day out in their own words….

BT Young Scientist 2023

It was finally the day we had prepared for weeks for! I got up at half five, had a shower and off we went. When we got to school it was 6.20 a.m. and ten minutes later we were heading to the BT Young Scientist. On the bus I talked to my friends, played games and before I knew it we were in Dublin.

We had prepared a project on Solar Energy in our Community which included changing solar into electrical energy as well as energy in our diets. We prepared food chains as examples of energy in our diets and everyday lives.

We asked parents in our school community about solar energy in their homes. Then we took the data and made it into colourful graphs. We learned about the Solar Farms installed in Eli Lilly from Eamon Judge who came to visit us in Nohoval. Then for even more information for our project we did an experiment on Cress Seeds in different light conditions and solar ovens. Finally came the sticking it all together for our project- it was fun (stressful at parts) but fun! The day before we set off our class practised presenting our project to others teachers and put in the final touches.

As we walked into the RDS we found our stall and started setting up. Our group was not at the stall first so that meant we could have a look at all the exhibits. One of my favourites was a Virtual Reality head set that could make the scenery around you look like you were a supporter in a soccer match. It looked really cool! About an hour later it was our turn to stay by our stand. People came up to us and asked us what our project was about. The people loved our project!

While we were at the stand Eamonn Judge from Eli Lilly, who had helped us with our project, came over to us and gave us pizza. The pizza was very yummy. After all that delicious pizza my group went for lunch. After lunch, we went to the bottom of the lunch room. There was a girl teaching drums. Our group did a lesson, it was great fun!

Then we went to see a show called the ‘Secrets of Superhero Science’ and it was so cool, it had lights and cameras and everything!

Later in the day Michael Martin came up to our stand and we told him about our project. We got a picture with him.

We had time to look at whatever we wanted and then our school would meet up and leave. My friends and I took turns at doing games and we had lots of fun. We all went around together.

 Then sadly, we had to get the bus back to Cork. We had a great day but we knew it was time to go home.

At three thirty we went back on the bus and the road. It had some bad traffic so it took us a while to reach Supermacs. Supermacs was great.

 I sat in the back seats and we talked the whole way down until we sang songs. It was really dark now and we were tired by then but no one slept, I suppose we were too excited!  The trip took around five hours including our stop but it was well worth it. I would go back go in the future. When we got back to school I was wrecked but overall it was a great trip.

Report by Charlie, Oliver, Róisín, Phoenix, Niamh, Judy, Sophie and Kate.