Dublin and Meath Youngsters get SUPERPOWERED at DCU 

by Rose Barrett
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Rose Barrett

LEGO® Robots designed and built by over 85 teams of young engineers from primary schools across Dublin and Meath showcased their innovative solutions to problems in the journey of energy in their local communities at this year’s DCU Institute of Education LEGO® League SUPERPOWERED Showcase on Friday last, June 9.

The science and technology challenge, which is aimed at 8-13 year olds, tasks teams to create a robot and supporting poster which represent an innovative solution to a real-world problem. This year’s ‘SUPERPOWERED’ challenge saw young people discover the issues we face sourcing energy, its distribution and consumption. 

Many of us take it for granted that we can “fill up on energy” anytime and anywhere by simply plugging into a power socket. But how is our energy actually generated, stored, distributed and consumed? Will we always have enough energy available? What can the future of energy production and consumption look like? This year’s theme, SUPERPOWERED  centred around this exact problem; the journey of energy (i.e. how we source, distribute, store and use energy) and challenged 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 FIRST LEGO League Explore is organised by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) in partnership with Irish education partner DCU Institute of Education and Irish delivery partner, Learnit.

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 is more than a robotics challenge, Ross Maguire of Learnit says.

“The concepts of cooperation and problem solving combine. It’s the 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 fantastic young people are taking the first steps to become tomorrow’s innovators, creators and problem solvers.  Today is not about building robots, it’s about robots building people.”

FIRST LEGO League participation has grown 70% in the past three years in Ireland.

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 in this initiative contributes to our goal of creating an interactive learning hub that will help DCU student teachers and Irish schools develop innovative and creative approaches to designing learning environments which ignite a passion for learning STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Maths) concepts and skills from early childhood education right through to third level. By adopting LEGO’s playful learning tools, with a ‘Hands-on Minds-on’ mindset, in a supportive learning environment, all students can develop key competencies such as creative thinking, problem-solving, team-working and communication.”

Dr Ruth Freeman, Director, Science for Society at SFI , said: “We are delighted to be supporting FIRST LEGO League in helping young people to build essential skills in STEM, such as creativity and problem solving, and giving them a chance to apply these skills to real-world problems. This programme supports the SFI Discover programme’s central aims to increase public engagement and broaden participation and access to STEM across Ireland.”

Katie Conaty from St Paul’s NS, Ratoath. PicFintan Clarke

Lucy Owen, IET Education Manager, says FIRST LEGO League allows young people to experience engineering in action.  

“There is a great need for young people with STEM skills to fill the next generation of global engineering roles, and we are always excited to see so many bright young engineering minds in development.”

Schools (group picture of each attached, name of school in file name): 

Belmayne Educate Together National School, D132 x 6th Class54
St Francis of Assisi Primary School, Belmayne, D132x 5th Class60
Shellybanks Educate Together National School, Sandymount, D42x 5th Class52
St. Paul’s N.S., Ratoath, Co. Meath3 x 4th Class 3 x 5th Class150

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