Girl Guides and their LEGO® Robot head to Rio for International Competition
A team of teenagers from the Irish Girl Guides are off to Rio de Janeiro to compete in the FIRST LEGO League International Open, between August 5th and 7th.
The four girls from north County Dublin were selected to represent Ireland at the global invitational in Brazil, showcasing their science and robotics skills.
The talented team of Howth Girl Guides are Cara Sharry, Claire O’Hara, Karina Walsh and Monica Keogh, aged 15 and 16. They will represent Ireland amongst the world’s top FIRST LEGO® League Challenge national participants.
Over 500 young people, making up 64 teams of young engineers from across Ireland took part in this year’s annual science and technology challenge, aimed at 11 to 16-year-olds.
After winning their regional tournament, held in the DCU Institute of Education in Drumcondra in May, the Dublin Girl Guides then came out as top scorers in the six regional tournaments held across Ireland.
This year’s theme was ‘CARGO CONNECT’ and the challenge saw the four young Girl Guides research issues concerning the movement of cargo around the world. They needed to develop innovative logistics solutions while also demonstrating their skills in robotics, computer programming, teamwork, research, problem solving and communication.
Speaking about the competition, team member Cara Sharry said:
‘We are so excited to continue our FIRST® LEGO® League journey, travelling to Rio to represent Ireland and meeting contestants from all around the world. Taking part in FIRST LEGO® League has helped us develop presentation skills and learn how to work on a team, while also challenging us to learn to code and build robots. It is a tough competition, but also great fun, and worth every minute of the development work, when everything comes together successfully.’
Earlier this year, LEGO® robots designed and built by 14 teams of young female engineers from the Irish Girl Guides across Ireland battled it out at a dedicated FIRST® LEGO® League CARGO CONNECT tournament. The winning Guides from Howth came out tops with their problem-solving robot.
Over 1,000 Girl Guides and Leaders have represented the Irish Girl Guides in the Robotics Challenge at all three levels of the competition since 2016. These include the Discover level for girls aged 5-7 (Ladybirds), the Explore level for teams of Brownies, aged up to eleven, and the Guides and Senior Branch members who build and code robots with LEGO® Spike Prime kits for the Challenge competition that happens on a national and global level.
The initiative is supported by Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) & the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) & in partnership with the tournament’s Irish partner, Learnit.
FIRST LEGO® League is more than a robotics competition, Ross Maguire of Learnit says:
“Cooperation and competition combine in FIRST LEGO® League. Students discover the world of STEM and collaborate on real-world engineering problems. These young people are taking the first steps to become tomorrow’s innovators, creators and problem solvers. As we say, it is not about building robots; it’s about robots building people.”
In Ireland, FIRST LEGO League participation has grown 70% in the past three years. Learnit partners with Dublin City University and its LEGO Education Innovation Studio to actively engage young people and increase their STEM awareness.
Professor Deirdre Butler, DCU LEGO Education Innovation Studio said:
“This worldwide initiative contributes to our goal of creating an interactive learning hub in Dublin that will ignite a passion for STEM learning (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) from early childhood through to the third level. LEGO’s playful learning tools help develop a ‘Hands-on Minds-on’ mindset, supporting learners in developing key competencies such as creative thinking, problem-solving, team-working and communication.”
IET, Ireland’s Institution of Engineering and Technology, is also an operational partner of FIRST® LEGO® League. As one of the world’s largest engineering institutions, IET is passionate about inspiring and supporting students with STEM studies, Lucy Owen, IET Education Manager, says.
“FIRST LEGO League allows young people experience engineering in action, helping them to develop valuable skills for the engineering sector and the wider economy. There is a real need for students with STEM skills to fill the next generation of global engineering roles, and we are excited to see these bright young Irish engineering minds in development.”
FIRST is an acronym for ‘For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, and FIRST LEGO League encourages children, and young men and women, to think like scientists and engineers, developing practical solutions to real-world issues.