The world currently faces an unprecedented need for new innovators, thinkers and problem solving leaders. At current rates there are simply not enough students choosing STEM related paths to meet the global demand. STEM education is the study of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. The theory of STEM education lies in the hope that by exposing students to STEM at an early age and by giving them opportunities to explore STEM related concepts, they will develop a passion for it and pursue a job in a STEM field. The study of robotics inherently relates to all facets of STEM education.
The children at local school Kilruane NS have been engaging with the Dell sponsored Vex IQ Robotics programme since last October. Vex Robotics, brought to Ireland in 2012 by Dell EMC, is a programme where primary and secondary school children learn about STEM in a relaxed, pupil-led environment, which above all else promotes active, experiential and collaborative learning.
In addition to STEM the students acquire and develop other skills for the future, in the areas of project management, teamwork, leadership, collaborative and creative problem solving, public relations and presentation skills. It has been proven that when students learn through hand on exploration, it increases motivation and desire to succeed.
The 5th and 6th classes at the school have been designing, building and programming robots since October, culminating in their participation at the Semi Finals of the Dell VEX Robotics competition last Thursday, a spectacular event held at the Dell EMC Limerick Campus, in collaboration with Mary Immaculate College Limerick, Dell’s partner institute in relation to this project. Mary Immaculate came on board in 2017 to generate further awareness and participation in this event amongst primary schools.
It was Kilruane National Schools first time to engage with this project and to compete at this event. The children left the school at 7:30am, on a frosty Thursday morning, destination Limerick, armed with robots, build kits and laptops, quietly confident, despite being up against stiff competition, much bigger schools and schools who had been engaging with Vex Robotics since it was expanded to include Primary schools by Dell EMC in 2014. The pupils of Kilruane National School had worked hard and were ready to put their best foot forward.
As the day unfolded, it was becoming more and more obvious that this was going to be a special day for Kilruane National School. Just before 3pm, the children were simply ecstatic to learn they had been selected to go forward to the National Final of the Vex Robotics competition, the only Tipperary primary school to do so. They also received a prestigious “Design Award” on the day for their outstanding design and project work.
School Principal Mairéad Kirby says, “It is a fantastic achievement for our small school and we are so proud of everybody involved”. She would also like to take this opportunity to thank teachers Gene Maguire and Collette Lawlor for their “gentle guidance in leading the project at the school” and parents Joe Correia and Fran Farrell, who work with Dell EMC, “for continuing to share their knowledge and expertise with the children as mentors”. Ms.Kirby would also like to thank the extended staff, the Board of Management and Parent’s Association “for their continued support at the school and for embracing this project so enthusiastically from the beginning.”
Above all she would like to pay tribute to the wonderful children at the school who, “continue to astound us daily with their talents, drive and exhuberance”.
Ann Hogan, Chairperson of the Board of Management of Kilruane NS, where all children from 3rd class upwards access training in computer skills and computer programming, is delighted with how the children have progressed in such a short space of time.
In relation to the schools recent success in Limerick, she commented, “It is a wonderful example of how a whole school community working together can achieve great things”. Anne also added, “Acquiring computer and engineering skills at such a young age will be invaluable for our children here at the school, particularly in relation to their future education and career choices”.
On behalf of the whole school community, Anne wished the children the very best of luck in the National Final of the Vex Robotics competition, which will be held in CIT, Cork on March 1st.
You can follow the progress of events on March 1st by following the Hashtag #DELLCITVEX and at the school’s website http://www.kilruaneschool.com
Full details of VEX IQ (Primary schools) and VEX EDR (Secondary schools) can be found here: