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Project 500 update

children with Project 500 awards

An article by Joy Alexander and Ruth Jarman, honorary lecturers (and recently retired colleagues) in the School of SSESW, has been short-listed for the prestigious UKLA/Wiley Research in Literacy Education Award. The winner will be announced in July. The article, 'The pleasures of nonfiction', published last year in the journal 'Literacy', discusses research into Project 500 (Schools), which Ruth and Joy have been running with schools for the past five years, including Harberton School, Belfast, and Buick Memorial Primary School, Cullybackey.

Project 500 (Schools), named after the Dewey Decimal Library Classification for 'Science', challenges children and young people to read science information books for interest and enjoyment. The programme caters for pupils aged between 8 and 13 and runs in about 20 primary, secondary and special schools each year. Thousands of pupils across Northern Ireland and England have been reading science books for pleasure and taking part in exciting and creative teacher-designed activities which support their engagement with these books. Ruth and Joy's research with pupils showed that children and young people enjoyed the project and found reading about science interesting, challenging their commonly held assumption that science books are boring, demanding or only for specialists. Rather, the ideas and information encountered stimulated their sense of wonder and curiosity. As well as the Project’s obvious contribution to STEM promotion, it also fosters reading development and often library use.

Project 500 (Schools) has been funded by the Primary Science Teaching Trust and by the Ernest Cook Trust. Through its engagement with the local community it has made a contribution to the University's aims as outlined in its Social Charter.