Monday, 26 February 2018
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January 2018

Ni4kids round-up of school-gate chat for January 2018...


Astronomy experts at the University of Birmingham have created a new series of star constellations for the modern day, each of which celebrates iconic figures who are inspirational to young people from the worlds of sport, entertainment, science and politics. Examples include Usain Bolt doing his celebratory lightning-bolt stance, Sir David Attenborough in the shape of a blue whale, JK Rowling through Harry Potter's iconic glasses, Mo Farah doing his Mobot celebration and a spaceship for Tim Peake. The project, entitled “Look Up To Stars” arrives in the wake of new research revealing that 72 per cent of children have never looked up at the night sky to find a star constellation, while almost one third (29%) wouldn’t be able to recognise a single classical constellation. The designs have been created alongside The Big Bang Fair with a view to getting more children interested in stargazing and the wider universe. Emma Willett, who led the University of Birmingham research team, commented: “We really hope these new creations will help people of all ages develop their interest in space and astronomy, working to inspire the next generation of astronomers to take an interest in the field.”

Looking Out For Fake News

According to a new report published by Ofcom, nine out of 10 children say they ‘always, ‘often’ or ‘sometimes’ stop to consider the truth of a story they come across online, demonstrating that youngsters are aware of the concept of fake news. Reporting on the attitudes and usage of media channels by children and their parents, the media watchdog found that 99 per cent of 12-15 year olds spend nearly 21 hours a week online, and 74% of this age group have a social media profile. Mauro Silva, Senior Vice President at Modern Times Group, said: “These young people are amongst the first generation that are actually digital and technology dependent. In our post-truth society, where objective facts are less important in shaping people’s opinions than what appeals to emotions or personal beliefs, one might assume that children would be particularly vulnerable to fake news – this younger generation is perhaps more discerning in the digital environment. The so-called ‘Gen Zs’, aged between 7 and 20, are defined by having a sense of purpose and wanting to work for the greater good. They care a lot about who transmits the news, and they trust their inner circle of friends much more than any media corporation. It’s great to see that young people are taking an interest in the news, and learning to be astute when coming across questionable sources.”

Minecraft At School

Belfast Met is helping to roll out an introduction to coding for primary school aged kids using the popular Minecraft video game. The first set of events took place across NI during December and a further week of events is planned for March 2018 with locations to be revealed. Prodigy Learning will be providing the one-day events to introduce primary school educators to the Minecraft platform and give them the basic skills and knowledge to implement Minecraft within the classroom. Delivered by a local Minecraft certified trainer, the training will enable attendees to engage with their students in the Minecraft environment to utilise Minecraft to deliver topics from various subject areas of the curriculum. The free events are open to all Northern Ireland primary school educators. Jonathan Heggarty, Director of Curriculum, Belfast Metropolitan College, said “Belfast Met has a strong history of working with educators to provide skills in innovative technology and encouraging coding from a young age in its CoderDojo programme. Minecraft is a powerful and exciting platform for educators which can transform the learning experience. This initiative with our long-standing partners, Prodigy Learning and Microsoft Ireland, is an exciting opportunity to engage the students and staff in the NI education sector.” For more information visit
Pictured (L-R) Dr Kevin Marshall (Head of Education, Microsoft Ireland), Damien Duffy (Director of Development, Belfast Metropolitan College), Billy Breen (Country Manager, Prodigy Learning)

Watching Out For Our Feathered Friends

The RSPB are asking eagle-eyed schoolchildren to look out for NI’s favourite birds until February 23 as part of the 2018 Big Schools Birdwatch. It’s the perfect opportunity for kids to get outside the classroom and make their first discoveries in nature. The free activity only takes one hour to complete, so to help the next generation of children start their own wildlife adventure visit

Number Facts

2/5 The number of parents who would have more children, if it wasn’t for their own financial constraints.

39% The number of families who now exercise together.

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