The Fionn project 2002–2005

When child-centric Science filming began in Irish Schools

Organiser: Insight SFI Research Centre for Data Analytics

In January 2002 the Galway Education Centre rolled out the ‘Fionn’ project to 35 Galway city and county schools, a government-funded programme to prepare teachers for the introduction of science into the Irish primary curriculum in September 2004.

Science as a subject had been withdrawn from primary schools to be replaced by the Irish language in the early years of the Irish Free State.
After an absence of almost 80 years, Galway was taking the lead in its re-introduction into the primary school curriculum which represented a major nationwide restructuring of Irish education. 

Each of the participating schools was provided with a laptop (novel as most computer users then used desktops), a high speed (ISDN) Internet line (there was no broadband in 2002!), a digital movie camera (whose usage was unfamiliar to most people) and movie production training in order to make a series of child-centric videos to be hosted on the new emerging environment of the World Wide Web every year for four years related to science and technology but taking in other aspects of the school curriculum such as languages, music, history, geography, drama and art. It was also designed to promote science as a fun subject and to actively encourage girls to consider themselves as scientists of the future in what was then associated as a profession associated with older males

These videos became invaluable online learning resources for many schools across Ireland over a number of years, at a time when suitable quality web content was limited especially any produced by schools. For the Fionn project spawned the first generation of children and teachers able to produce their own films in-house rather than, as was done previously, hire the services of external professionals. Hence there was an upsurge of films coming out of schools.

The Fionn project was managed by Brendan Smith working under the auspices of Bernard Kirk, director of the Galway Education Centre and Ciaran Folan regional ICT advisor for the National Centre for Technology in Education, and with government funding secured by Minister of State for Science Noel Treacy TD. As many of these child-centric films had environmental, ecological and heritage themes, thanks to the Galway County Heritage Officer Marie Mannion, they became a key part of the newly created and prestigious annual Galway County Heritage Awards.

In 2022, many of these inspirating films are being restored and made available through the Irish BEO online local heritage repository project managed by the Insight SFI Research Centre for Data Analytics.

A number of these videos will be made accessible online to the public during the course of the festival with dozens of them being released during a special ceremonial event in mid December.

As an example of the quality and learning benefits of these Fionn films, check out The Eskers of Clontuskert and The Leisler Bats of Scoil an Chlochair Oughterard.

For further information contact Brendan Smith at