Galway’s Young Coders use their Digital Skills to Raise Awareness of Marine Issues

Press Release: August 2016

Thirteen young Irish people were honoured for their work in creating innovative digital games and stories based on the health of the ocean at the Sea Change CoderDojo Challenge, which was held in the National University of Ireland Galway (NUI Galway), in Ireland in summer 2016.

The Sea Change game design challenge was launched on 27 February 2016 and invited entrants between the ages of 7 – 18 from Galway (Ireland) to use their coding skills to highlight issues facing our ocean. The challenge was organised by NUI Galway as part the EU-funded Sea Change project which aims to change the way European citizens view their relationship with the sea, by empowering them to take sustainable action towards a healthy ocean and ultimately a healthy planet.

Dr Anthony Grehan, Senior Researcher, NUI Galway and co-organiser of the event said: “The challenge was to use the fun and popularity of designing and playing tech games to raise awareness of marine issues like the need to protect cold-water coral reefs, ways to address the scourge of microplastics, and how we can maintain a healthy ocean, for ourselves, for marine life, and for the planet.”

Ciara Heanue from Ballyconneely, Co Galway, won the Irish Junior Award for her ‘Wildlife Awareness’ game. Ciara received a prize of €300 which was donated by Irish Sea Change partners AquaTT and NUI Galway. Her game will be included in an iBook about cold-water corals that will be presented to secondary schools as a teaching resource.

The joint winners of the Irish Senior Award were Conor Salmon and Liam Forde for ‘Gully’s Clean-up’, and Adam Gallagher, Evan Thornton and Daniel Bradley Coyne for ‘Flappy Fish’. The senior winners shared a cash prize of €500.

Due to the high standard at Junior level, three Junior Merit Awards were presented to: Sean Connolly, Ruan O’Dowd and Diarmuid O’Donoghue for their ‘Save My Sea’ game; Paul Schuler, Michael Salmon and Liam Ferrie for ‘SOS - Save Our Seas!’; and Sean Kerr for ‘Animal Saver’.

Dr Veronica McCauley from the School of Education at NUI Galway and co-organiser of the event said: “The surge of interest, with 32 entrants from Galway alone, revealed a strong and enthusiastic coding community, which is particularly relevant considering the 2015-2020 Digital Strategy for Schools and its promotion of coding and programming at both primary and secondary levels of education in Ireland.”

The game design was reviewed by a panel of experts: Alan Duggan (, Gavin Duffy (RealSim Ltd.) and Triona Mac Giolla Rí (Aro Digital Strategy) and judged on ‘best concept’ and ‘ease of use’. The judges sponsored €50 vouchers for the three merit awards.
“The aesthetic and technical merit of the project submissions has been highly commended by the judges,” said Brendan Smith, Education Outreach Officer at INSIGHT, NUI Galway and Co-Founder of CoderDojo Galway.

The marine-themed games are now available at Other marine related resources are available on the project website:

Ciara Heanue CoderDojo Winner

Winner of the Irish Junior Entrant Award, Ciara Heanue, being presented with her prize by Gavin Duffy, RealSim Ltd. and Dr Veronica McCauley, Science Education Lecturer, School of Education, NUI Galway, for her game 'Wildlife Awareness'.

Second Issue of Sea Change Project News Now Available

SeaChange newsletter coverPress Release: July 2016

The second issue of the Sea Change project newsletter is now available to download HERE.

Sea Change is a three-year EU Horizon 2020 funded project that aims to establish a fundamental “Sea Change” in the way European citizens view their relationship with the ocean. Sea Change will create a deeper understanding of how the health of European citizens depends on the health of our ocean, and how the health of our ocean depends on the actions of our citizens.

The second issue of the Sea Change project newsletter includes some inspiring ideas about how to help tackle ocean acidification and is also a great place to get updates on the project’s recent Ocean Literacy endeavours. This issue features: a report on consultations with education stakeholders about bringing Ocean Literacy into European schools; results of the Think Big, Think Ocean ideas contest and the Future Ocean computer game design contest; details of upcoming eLearning books and new learning resources on the links between the ocean and human health.

Get the latest news on the Sea Change project by following us on Twitter at and liking us on Facebook at

Join the Sea Change - Take Action to Protect Our Ocean, Our Health

Press Release: July 2016

The Sea Change project invites you to take simple steps towards protecting our ocean by joining its new “Our Ocean, Our Health” campaign to raise awareness of the interconnectedness of ocean and human health.

Sea Change is an EU Horizon 2020-funded project which aims to raise European citizens’ awareness of the intrinsic links between ocean and human health, and to empower us, as “Ocean Literate” citizens, to take direct and sustainable action towards a healthy ocean, healthy communities and ultimately a healthy planet.

“Our Ocean, Our Health” emphasises the vital role of the ocean in making life on Earth possible. Our ocean provides us with oxygen, it regulates our climate and produces over 140 million tons of food each year. But human activity and our way of life is affecting the ocean’s health. If we don’t take care of the ocean, we endanger our own survival.

You can help to spread the word about the ocean’s life-giving vitality by sharing Sea Change’s new video, which highlights the ocean’s contribution to the oxygen we breathe. Watch “Our Ocean Our Oxygen” on the Sea Change website,, or the Sea Change Vimeo channel at

Sea Change encourages you to take action by pledging to make a “sea change” in your daily behaviour at and sharing your commitment online using #OurOceanOurHealth. Even by making small changes in our activities, together we can achieve big results to tackle the marine issues of plastic debris, acidification, pollution and depletion of fish stocks.

Jon Parr, Sea Change Coordinator, said: “We are very excited to launch the ‘Our Ocean, Our Health’ campaign, which is all about making a ‘sea change’ in our lives, celebrating the ocean and recognising how it is at the heart of everything we do. We encourage everyone to get out there and take on the challenge. We’ll be following #OurOceanOurHealth closely and look forward to seeing what changes people have pledged.”

Find out how you can help protect the ocean, and make your pledge at: Don’t forget to share your commitment with #OurOceanOurHealth.

Get the latest news on the Sea Change campaign by following us on Twitter at and liking us on Facebook at

Our Ocean Our Oxygen from Sea Change Project on Vimeo.

Turning ABCs into ABSeas – Engaging Education Stakeholders to Bring Ocean Literacy to European Schools

Press Release: April 2016

Teachers, educators, outreach workers, curriculum designers, media representatives, government agencies, parents and students across Europe are coming together under the Sea Change project ( to discuss key issues associated with incorporating topics related to ‘Ocean Literacy’ in European education systems.

Ocean Literacy refers to an understanding of the ocean’s influence on us and our influence on the ocean.

Sea Change is an EU-funded Horizon 2020 project which aims to create a fundamental change in the way European citizens view their relationship with the sea. This will empower them, as Ocean Literate citizens to take direct and sustainable action towards a healthy ocean and seas, healthy communities and ultimately a healthy planet.

As part of its efforts, Sea Change is organising consultations with education stakeholders in eight European countries (Belgium, Denmark, Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the UK) from April to June 2016, to discuss the barriers that exist to teaching 12-19 year-olds about the ocean, and how to overcome them. A one-day workshop will be held in each country to ensure that there is a sufficient dialogue to include all geographical and cultural differences.

Dr Patricia McHugh of the National University of Ireland (NUI) Galway, who is leading the consultations, explained: “This is not only an opportunity for participants to network, share experiences and discuss barriers with other participants, but also to address causes rather than solutions and be part of the Sea Change project. The consultations facilitate mutual learning between the project partners and stakeholders involved in teaching, education, outreach, curriculum design and policy. They will enable us to create a map of how the barriers are interrelated for each country, which will then be used to guide other project tasks and also be of benefit to the education community.”

The workshops will use a facilitation process called ‘Collective Intelligence’ that helps groups deal with complex issues, such as Ocean Literacy, through systems thinking. The barriers to teaching 12-19 year-olds about the ocean identified online prior to the workshop.

Dr Christine Domegan (NUI Galway), EU Lead Methodologist for Sea Change, said: “Collective Intelligence goes significantly beyond asking people for their opinions, it gives stakeholders a voice about the barriers to change, and ownership of and responsibility for solutions. Collective Intelligence is a vehicle to overcome barriers to promote Ocean Literacy across Europe. The structured dialogue, listening and learning in the consultations will empower teachers, educators, outreach workers, curriculum designers, media representatives, government agencies, parents and students from all over Europe to understand their thoughts, beliefs and mental models compared to others. The time and space afforded to participants allows them to clarify their thinking. Looking at the problem and solutions from different perspectives will contribute to a modelled understanding of the complexity, patterns and interlocking elements of teaching 12-19 year-olds about the ocean.”

The results from the consultations will be compared and analysed on a transnational basis in order to identify commonalities and differences across the different regions and cultures in Europe with the aim of establishing a strong strategy for embedding Ocean Literacy into education in Europe.

For more information about the Sea Change project, visit: 

ECsafeSEAFOOD programme

Students Set Sail on a Transatlantic Ocean Literacy Initiative

In the coming weeks, the Wylde Swan ship is taking an educational voyage across the Atlantic Ocean (from the Caribbean to the Netherlands) with 30 secondary school students between the ages of 15-17 on board.

Masterskip Wylde Swan is an innovative educational project with a mission to bring science alive and create an inspiring and demanding environment for teenage students. In a five-month sailing trip (from October 2015 - April 2016) secondary school students join the expedition for six week periods to become crew members and be educated on board the ship. From 6 March - 24 April 2016, a group will board the ship to sail from the St Maarten (Caribbean) to Rotterdam (the Netherlands), crossing the Atlantic Ocean. The students will learn about sailing, life at sea and the ship. Education on the ship will focus on the direct application of science, for example, navigation, how to make fresh water from sea water, how to dissect a freshly caught fish or the volcanic history of the Caribbean.

The EU H2020 funded project Sea Change has teamed up with the Masterskip Wylde Swan initiative to reinforce its strong Ocean Literacy element. The Sea Change project aims to establish a fundamental “Sea Change” in the way European citizens view their relationship with the sea, by empowering them, as Ocean Literate citizens, to take direct and sustainable action towards a healthy ocean and seas, healthy communities and ultimately a healthy planet. Masterskip trainees will provide Sea Change with stories about their experience of the Atlantic Ocean and ocean related science, which can then be used as material create enthusiasm for others to learn about the ocean. Jan Joris Midavaie, guest lecturer and junior researcher in marine litter, is onboard the ship collecting data about the tiny bits of plastic that float around in the sea, called microplactics. He uses a very fine net to ‘fish’ for plastic in the Atlantic Gyre. He will send the Sea Change project regular updates about his work on board the Wylde Swan.

Jan said: “In preparation for the voyage I have been looking for partnerships and collaboration in ocean and coastal science to teach the trainees about subjects related to the ocean and allow them to spread their experience and research findings among a broad range of people.”

In the coming weeks, the Sea Change project will post blogs and pictures sent by the students over the course of their adventure. To read about how the crew are getting on, click on the blogspot below. 

More information about the ship and the program can be found at:

For more information about the Sea Change project, visit

Wylde Swan Blog

Masterskip Wylde Swan