Dublin Pre-School selected for FIRST® LEGO® League Programme
Engineering and science are now child’s play, as an Irish pre-school celebrates being selected for Ireland’s first-ever IET FIRST LEGO League Discover programme.
LEGO, the ‘toy’ we all know and love, is being used by children aged from just four years old, to formally support STEM learning in the classroom.
In Dublin, more than thirty preschool children at Portobello Montessori School are currently taking part in the programme, having received generous funding from Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) and The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), and support from Learnit, the LEGO® education specialist.
A practical and fun hands-on learning programme developed by LEGO, ‘FIRST’ stands for ‘For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology’. FIRST LEGO League encourages children to think like scientists and engineers, developing practical solutions to real issues.
At a showcase, this week (Tuesday 28 June) to celebrate the children taking part in the Discover programme, Denise Flood, director of the Portobello Institute, said young children’s open minds and eagerness to learn makes preschool a fantastic starting point for STEM learning.
“We are surrounded by science in action in our lives and, yet, somehow, STEM subjects get labelled as dull or difficult as students get older. We are incredibly excited and grateful that Portobello Montessori School has this opportunity, via the IET FIRST LEGO League Discover programme, to nurture an interest in science and technology in our young children”.
The new Discover module is a global STEM programme for 4 to 6-year-olds to help develop STEM skills from an early age. Children explore a real-world theme and learn through play. They also absorb the FIRST LEGO League core values which are celebrating discovery and teamwork, all while having fun!
Portobello Institute is a private college in Dublin’s north inner city that runs several training courses in the early years of education. Uniquely, there is also a pre-school on the campus which has become the first in Ireland to pilot FIRST LEGO League resources to run the discover programme. Catering for a variety of children of different nationalities and backgrounds, the preschool education team, including teacher Natasha Murphy are very open to the new learning opportunity and interested in how it might influence preschool curricula in the future.
Lucy Owen of the IET, the operational partner of FIRST® LEGO® League, said it is hugely important to encourage young people to experience engineering in action.
“As well as bringing excitement to STEM subjects, children get hands-on experience with the engineering design process and creating innovative solutions to real-world issues.
Our mission is to inspire the next generation of engineers, and we know how important it is to engage young children from the very beginning of their education. By engaging children in meaningful and stimulating STEM experiences, we can encourage a love of learning in these subjects and dispel myths around engineering and technology careers.”
There is an ever-increasing need for young people with STEM skills to fill the future engineering roles, the IET representative added, saying that the engineering body is proud to work with Learnit in Ireland to encourage more bright young engineering minds to take part in FIRST LEGO League.
Astrophysicist, Neil deGrasse Tyson, maintained that a scientist is a kid that never grew up, Ross Maguire of Learnit said at the celebration of the IET FIRST LEGO League Discover programme in Portobello Montessori School.
“Children are born scientists with their inquisitive nature and their urge to question how the world works. FIRST LEGO League Discover is a stepping stone for young children to discover the world of STEM through play, developing collaboration skills, and learning about their world.
“It’s an incredibly accessible programme, giving teachers and facilitators the ability to help children discover STEM through fun, hands-on, project-based activities. These young people are taking early steps to become tomorrow’s innovators, creators and problem solvers.”