Tuesday 5 February saw Mary Immaculate College (MIC) and DELL EMC Limerick once again join forces as part of their ambitious initiative to bring educational robotics to schools in the Mid-West Region.
For the second year running 25 school teams from Limerick, Tipperary, Clare and Cork competed in the regional finals of the VEX IQ Primary Schools competition, with over 700 students and teachers showcasing their projects and presentations.
The VEX Robotics Challenge involves a class of pupils, from 9–12 years old, working in teams to design, build and program a robot. Students also worked on a STEM project focusing on “Mathematics in everyday life”, where the children designed and developed a four minute video presentation on the topic. Some of the topics included: designing and building an inclusive playground for children with disabilities; developing mathematical models to cut down on waiting times in A&E departments and the control and co-ordination of traffic lights.
Limerick schools moving forward to the national finals in Cork include:
- Lisnagry National School (Excellence Award)
- Gaelscoil an Ráithín (Design)
- Mahoonagh National School, Castlemahon (STEM research Project)
- Lisnagry National School and Scoil Íde, Corbally (Teamwork Award)
- Scoil an Spioraid Naoimh, Roxborough (Judges Award)
The Limerick Robotics initiative kicked off last July with a summer course for primary school teachers at MIC. Supported by DELL EMC Limerick, the Professional Development Services for Teachers (PDST) and the Irish American Partnership; the course involved designing robots, problem solving, trouble shooting and learning how to code in order to equip the teacher with the knowledge, skills and confidence to integrate STEAM effectively into the curriculum using robotics.
Between September and January each of the 25 schools were mentored and supported in a variety of ways including five professional development workshops in DELL EMC Limerick and the Limerick Education Centre, as well as over 30 Dell Mentors volunteering their time to visit participating schools providing guidance to both children and teachers.
According to Dr Maeve Liston, Director of Enterprise and Community Engagement at MIC, “This project focuses on empowering young people to develop STEAM skills for life, allowing the younger generations to embrace innovation, enhance creative and critical thinking skills, solve problems, develop solutions and test opportunities - skills needed across all life-situations and career paths. The children impressed the judges immensely on the day, not only their robotics skills but also their innovation, creativity, team work and presentation skills”.
Dr Liston added “This programme is significant in addressing Ireland’s STEM Education Policy Statement 2017-2026 which aims to be internationally recognised as providing the highest quality STEM education experience for learners that nurtures curiosity, inquiry, problem-solving, creativity, ethical behaviour, confidence, and persistence, along with the excitement of collaborative innovation”
Denis Kelly, DELL EMC Global Senior Vice President and Limerick Campus Leader said: “It’s our pleasure again to be hosting the excellent VEX Robotics Primary School Regional Finals. Last year’s event is still being talked about, particularly with regard to the fantastic inspiration that these kids bring in, how they embrace technology, projects and presentation skills. What is particularly satisfying is the VEX program growing significantly this past year, in the number of local schools interested and also for our team members who act as mentors for the schools. Not to mention delivering such a huge event as we have here today. The future looks bright!”
The finals of the VEX IQ competition will take place later in February in Cork Institute of Technology with the overall winners getting a spot to compete at the VEX World Competition in Kentucky in April.
The programme is supported by DELL EMC, Mary Immaculate College, the Irish American Partnership, Professional Development Services for Teachers, Cork Institute of Technology and Science Foundation Ireland.