Twenty-four teams from schools and youth groups across the country have qualified from eleven regional tournaments to compete next weekend for the prestigious FIRST® LEGO® League All-Ireland Champions title.
Teams will compete in Crowne Plaza Hotel, Santry, Dublin, D09KN66, Dublin this coming Saturday, 25th of March, to display Ireland’s next generation of scientists and engineers and compete for the opportunity to represent Ireland at international LEGO FIRST® LEGO® League events in California and Marrakech in the autumn.
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 will participate 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 sees 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.”