Building Bricks of STEM Innovation in Young People
Co. Down Youth Group Wins All-Ireland FIRST LEGO League Final
Robots designed and built by students using LEGO strut their stuff in the Crowne Plaza Santry last weekend (Saturday 25th March), competing in the FIRST LEGO League finals. The winning team were The Treehouse Gang from Holywood, Co. Down who have been invited to represent Ireland at international LEGO FIRST® LEGO® League event in California in May.
Runners-up Mercy Secondary School, Mounthawk, Tralee, Co. Kerry and Stepaside Educate Together National in Stepaside, Dublin 18 also qualified for places at international competitions taking place in California and Marrakech, Morocco this May (one will go to California and one to Marrakech). They will have the opportunity to represent not only their schools and communities but also the whole of Ireland at these international competitions.
Twenty-four teams from schools and youth groups across the country competed for the prestigious FIRST® LEGO® League All-Ireland Champions title.
Over 120 teams took part in this year’s qualifying, including groups from primary and post-primary schools, and youth groups such as the Irish Girl Guides and Foróige. This year over 5,000 young people participated in over 100,000 hours of STEM engagement (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) across all three FIRST LEGO League divisions, including Discover, Explore and Challenge age-graded levels.
Regional tournaments took place in Dublin, on both the DCU and UCD campuses, with a tournament also hosted by fintech software company, Sage. Laois, Cork, Galway, Belfast and Monaghan also saw exciting qualifying events where young engineers designed and built ‘SUPERPOWERED’ LEGO® robots to compete in the engaging science and technology challenge.
Aimed at 11-16 year olds, FIRST LEGO League teams build robots to tackle a series of missions, and create an innovative solution to a real-world problem.
This year’ ‘SUPERPOWERED’ challenge saw young people discover the issues faced around energy sourcing, distribution and consumption. The competition challenges them to develop innovative solutions while demonstrating their skills in robotics, computer programming, teamwork, research, problem solving and communication.
Supported by the SFI Discover programme, the initiative is organised by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) in partnership with Irish delivery partner, Learnit.
Dr Ruth Freeman, Director, Science for Society at SFI, said:
“We are delighted to support FIRST LEGO League in helping young people build essential STEM skills and giving them a chance to apply these problem-solving skills to real-world problems. This programme supports the SFI Discover programme’s core aims to increase public engagement and broaden participation in and access to STEM learning across Ireland.”
FIRST is an acronym for ‘For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, and FIRST LEGO League encourages children to think like scientists and engineers, developing practical solutions to real-world issues.
FIRST LEGO League participation has grown 70% in the past three years alone in Ireland. The competition is much more than science or robotics, Ross Maguire of Learnit says.
“The concepts of cooperation and competition combine. It’s the fantastic idea that, by working together, we all win. FIRST LEGO League is a platform for students to discover the world of STEM and collaborate on real-world problems. These talented young people are taking the first steps to becoming tomorrow’s innovators, creators and problem solvers.
“These finals are not about building robots; they are about robots building people.”
Learnit partners with Dublin City University and its LEGO Education Innovation Studio to increase STEM awareness in young people.
Professor Deirdre Butler, DCU LEGO Education Innovation Studio said:
“The opportunity to be centrally involved contributes to our goal of creating an interactive learning hub that helps DCU student teachers and Irish schools develop creative approaches to designing learning environments which ignite a passion for STEM concepts and skills.
“From early childhood education, through to third level, by adopting LEGO’s playful learning tools, with a ‘hands-on minds-on’ mindset, in a supportive learning environment, students develop key competencies like creative thinking, problem-solving, team-work and communication.”
Lucy Owen, IET Education Manager, says FIRST LEGO League allows young people to experience engineering in action, and potentially consider career options in STEM disciplines.
“There is a great need for young people with STEM skills to fill the next generation of global engineering roles. We are always excited to see so many bright young engineering minds in development in Ireland.”
FIRST® LEGO® League Ireland 2023 FINALISTS
|Team name||School name||Town||County|
|Beech Hill College||Beech Hill College||Monaghan||Monaghan|
|Blarney Blockbusters||Scoil Mhuire Gan Smal||Blarney||Cork|
|Cambridge House||Cambridge House||Ballymena||Antrim|
|Corncrakes||Presentation Secondary School Warrenmount||Dublin 8||Dublin|
|Dr. Jekat (VIRTUAL)||Foróige West Iveragh UBU||Caherciveen||Kerry|
|Eco Energy Engineers||Ballymena Academy||Ballymena||Antrim|
|Fusioneers||North Longford Senior Branch Irish Girl Guides||Drumlish||Longford|
|LEGO LADS||Loretto Abbey Dalkey||Dalkey||Dublin|
|Lego Legends||Terence MacSwiney||Knocknaheeny||Cork|
|Lego Legion||Colaiste Iosagain||Portarlington||Offaly|
|Lego SETSS||Stepaside Educate Together Secondary School||Ballyogan||Dublin|
|Mounthawk Masterminds||Mercy Mounthawk||Tralee||Kerry|
|Powered Pitch Pros||St Colmans NS Mucklagh||Mucklagh||Offaly|
|Robotanists||St Andrews College||Blackrock||Dublin|
|Sacred Heart College||Sacred Heart College||Omagh||Tyrone|
|Scoil Treasa Naofa||Scoil Treasa Naofa||Dublin 8||Dublin|
|Spaceoddities||St Andrews College||Blackrock||Dublin|
|Steminists||Manor House School||Raheny||Dublin|
|SWARM||Macalla Girl Guides||Trim||Meath|
|The Cool Brickz||Bronte Primary School||Banbridge||Down|
|The Giants||Sacred Heart School Tullamore||Tullamore||Offaly|
|The Treehouse Gang||The Treehouse Gang||Holywood||Down|
|TTS||The Teresian School||Donnybrook||Dublin|