Over 500 students from 17 primary schools from the Mid-West region took part in the regional final of the Dell VEX Robotics Competition recently. Hosted by Dell Technologies in conjunction with Mary Immaculate College (MIC), the regional final saw students take part in a game-based engineering challenge to design, code and build robots.
Five schools from the Mid-West took home awards from the final, which was held at the Dell Limerick campus in Raheen. Barryroe National School in County Cork and Thomond Primary School in County Limerick both won the Teamwork Champion Award, with Barryroe also winning the Excellence Award. Limerick’s Nicker National School were presented with the Judges Award, while the Gaelic Gladiators team from Gaelscoil Aonach Urmhumhan in Nenagh, County Tipperary won both the Design Award and the Robot Skills Champion awards.
The robotics challenge begins in the classroom each year, with school children across the Mid-West working with their teacher from September to January to design, build and programme a robot. Teams from Dell and MIC volunteer their time to support the children and teachers as they prepare for the competition and also organise practice sessions. Classes can also opt to compete in a Science, Technology, Engineering and Technology (STEM) project, the theme of which this year was Mathematics in Nature. The students record and submit a video on their STEM projects to a panel of industry and education experts.
Since its introduction in 2014, the Dell VEX Robotics Competition has expanded nationwide with a growing number of young people inspired to engage in STEM at the earliest opportunity. The winners of the regional competition will take part in the national finals of the Dell VEX Robotics Competition on the 22nd and 23rd February at Munster Technological University in Cork. Almost 50 employees from Dell & MIC were involved in this year’s Mid-West final event.
According to Dr Maeve Liston, Director of Enterprise & Community Engagement at MIC: “We are delighted to be working with Dell Technologies again this year, bringing robotics to primary schools around the Mid-West region. The Dell VEX Robotics programme, run in partnership with MIC in the Mid-West, is an example of a unique collaboration between schools, industry and higher education. This involves a process of collaborative design and delivery between mentors from industry and experts in the field of STEM education from MIC, reinforcing what is being taught in the curriculum and extending learning beyond the curriculum into real world contexts.”
Commenting on the competition, Sean O’Reilly, EMEA Vice President of Logistics and Limerick Site Leader for Dell Technologies, said: “STEM learning is central to inspiring the next generation of developers and engineers whose skills will help shape our future as an innovation island. That is why our team in Limerick once again came together with Mary Immaculate College to host primary schools across the Mid-West for the Dell VEX Robotics regional competition. It is a fun way for us to engage young people in technology and foster their creativity. We are proud of our long-standing partnership with Mary Immaculate College as we expand the competition in the region. Well done to all the students and teachers who put on a powerful demonstration of their problem solving and computational skills during the recent regional final at our campus in Limerick.”
Students learn many technical skills like robotics, engineering, design, programming and coding. The teams also fundraise for robot parts, building skills and knowledge in areas such as teamwork, marketing and financial planning. This year the programme encouraged the students to look more closely at the world around them through the ‘Mathematics in Nature’ STEM project, leading students to explore applications including bees and the hexagonal shapes of hives and the honeycomb; the Fibonacci sequence in nature; fingerprints; and one team who investigated how Pythagoras’ Theorem helped them access a space in their attic.
Patricia O’Sullivan, Enterprise & Community Engagement Manager at MIC congratulated all the schools involved, saying: “We are so proud of all the schools here today. We began working with all these teachers and children from schools around the Mid-West Region in September 2022. It is great to see the results of all their hard work during such an exciting day here in Dell for the regional finals.”
Dell and MIC have been collaborating on the Dell VEX Robotics Competition for the past five years and were awarded The Teaching Council’s Collaboration Award in 2019. The project was chosen by the Council as an example of the transformative role that teachers play in our communities and society through collaboration. MIC supports teachers integrate the programme into the curriculum and also offers Continuing Professional Development (CPD) courses for teachers in the Dell VEX Robotics Competition, which are run in conjunction with staff from Dell. MIC works with Dell on many projects and Dell has also been a strong advocate and supporter of MIC's CRAFT Maker Space which is due to open in March 2023.
To find out more about the Dell VEX Robotics Competition or to register for next year’s programme visit www.stemcraft.mic.ul.ie