Wild Connections - Biodiversity


Primary & Post-Primary
Recommended workshop readings will be sent once the class booking is confirmed along with workshop impact evaluation and where possible, post workshop projects.

Learning Outside the Classroom

To enquire about STE(A)M week workshops or to make a booking, please email education@birrcastle.com


Online Educational Resource | Primary & Post-Primary

Join zoologist Catherine McGuinness as she investigates the world of aquatic invertebrates at Birr Castle Demesne whilst also explaining the importance of ecology and its associating factors.
Watch and discover what Catherine finds through the methodology of pond dipping to see what truly lies beneath!

Join renowned ecologist and botanist John Feehan as he delves into the meadow at Birr Castle Demesne and the array of biodiversity that is held within!
Discover the multitude of flora that is found in the meadow at Birr Castle Demesne that can be found within John’s new book ‘A Microcosmic Jungle‘.

Watch as Dr. Alex Copeland delves into the world of Biodiversity on World Habitat Day.
Watch Alex as he discusses the importance of the multitude of habitats found within the demesne of Birr Castle and how important it is to truly reconnect with nature.

World Habitat Day - October 2nd

Within Birr Castle Demesne are a huge variety of habitats that are home to a diverse range of species. Habitats such as the river, woodlands, lake, and grasslands all support different varieties of plants and animals. During the workshop we will visit these various habitats around the Demesne, talk about the unique characteristics of each habitat and what species have to overcome, and talk about some of the species that use and live in the habitats.

2 workshops:
Workshop 1: 10.00-11.00
Workshop 2: 11.30-12.30
€7.50 per student (partly funded by SFI)

Please wear suitable outdoor clothing and footwear for this workshop

For more information about Dr. Alex Copeland, click here


Space Week - 4th-10th October

Climate Changed Workshop

Climate change events have occurred several times in Earth’s history, however the current emergency is the first caused directly as a result of human activity.
From meteorites to the Industrial Revolution, the reason behind each mass extinction on earth is complex & far ranging.
Space research is now helping climate scientists to mitigate against climate change.
Organisations such as NASA & the ESA have over 150 satellites in orbit around the planet examining oceans, land, ice, atmosphere & biosphere.
This interactive workshop will look at Earth’s previous mass extinctions, the reasons behind them, what the current biodiversity crisis means for our future,
and how space research is helping us understand our climate, help fight forest fires and monitor our global air quality.

Wednesday 4th, Thursday 5th & Tuesday 10th October
2 workshops per day:

Workshop 1: 10.00-11.00
Workshop 2: 11.30-12.30
Class Size: 30 students
Fee per student: €8 (partly funded by SFI) 

Niamh Shaw

Extreme Environments Workshop

Facilitator: Niamh Shaw

Meet space reporter, influencer, writer & communicator Dr. Niamh Shaw as she provides an interactive workshop for schools about the extreme environments that encompass Earth.

From the green meadows of Birr Castle Demesne to the cold and baron environment of the Antarctic, Niamh Shaw is sure to inspire each and every participant to look to the corners of the Earth for extreme environments!

Friday 6th October
Workshop 1 at 10:00 to 11:00
Workshop 2 at 11:30 to 12:30
Workshop 3 at 13.00 to 14.00
Fee per student €8, partly funded by SFI
Maximum of 20 students per group


Maths Week - 14th-22nd October

Natural Patterns in Nature

Facilitator: Catherine McGuinness

If we told you that maths is happening everywhere you looked, would you believe it?

Scientists have been able to create equations that show us how leaves on a plant love their own personal space and will grow with a certain distance between the neighbouring leaves. This is called Fibonacci. When growing off the branch, Fibonacci can be viewed in their stems as well as their veins. The more they grow outward, the higher the Fibonacci sequence is visible. We also see this in pinecones, seed heads on flowers and in petal patterns.
Dendrochronology is the scientific process of dating a tree. In temperate climates like ours, many trees grow one ring around the trunk of their tree. If the tree is cut horizontally across the trunk, these rings are clearly visible and can be counted to estimate the age of the tree. Good growing and moisture conditions within the year can result in a wider ring while a drought can result in a narrower ring – showing us the rate of growth corresponding with growing conditions that year. Fascinating, isn’t it?

For Maths Week 2023, we want to inspire you in the realm of nature and mathematics through fun activities that will open your eyes to the amazing intelligence of Mother Nature.

Workshop Dates: 17th-19th October
2 workshops per day:
Workshop 1: 10.00-11.00
Workshop 2: 11.30-12.30
Maximum 30 students per workshop

Fee per student: €8 (partly funded by SFI)


Science Week - 13th-20th November

Ecology & Pond Dipping at Birr Castle Demesne

Facilitator: Catherine McGuinness

This workshop is suitable for Secondary School students from 1st Year to Transition Year and focuses on the ecology habitat study aspect of the Junior & Senior Cycles.

Ecology is an important subject within the Junior & Senior Cycles, covering not just habitats but environmental awareness and conservation. A hands-on engaging workshop of the aquatic invertebrates and their food webs within the depths of the lake habitat located within the Demesne.

Students will collect, identify and describe species from the lake and compile a detailed fieldwork report when onsite. Food chains and food webs will be pieced together, and the workshop will finish with a discussion on why aquatic invertebrates are a key component in recording Irish water quality and habitat health.

With the aid of a telescopic net, trays, magnifying specimen pots and an identification key. Students will record what they find and will have an opportunity to bring a sample of water back to our lakeside classroom. From this, the workshop facilitator will help them identify the micro-fauna with a microscope. An electronic field workbook will be provided before the visit and teachers are asked to ensure that students bring copies with them. A separate electronic teacher’s notebook will also be provided before the visit.

Workshop Dates: 14th-16th November
2 workshops per day:
Workshop 1: 10.00-11.00
Workshop 2: 11.30-12.30
Maximum 30 students per workshop

Fee per student: €8 (partly funded by SFI)