Primary School robots compete for place at World Competition.
Did you ever sit in primary school doodling robots, imagining what it would be like to build one or put it through it's paces against other robots?
That is exactly what happened in Cork Institute of Technology (CIT) this week as it hosted the first Dell VEX Primary School Regional Competition of the year. The competition, brought to Ireland by Dell six years ago, is run in collaboration with the institute.
In 2012, when the contest was first held in Ireland, ten teams took part. This year the contest was proud to have almost a hundred teams - 67 primary school and 31 secondary school teams. Over the five days of the event over 1,800 students from seven counties will take part.
The Dell VEX Robotics Challenge calls on students at primary and secondary school level to work in teams to design, build and program a robot. In September schools are provided with an easy to follow curriculum to help the schools run the preparation stages independently with the support of Dell employees who have volunteered their time to visit participating schools and provide guidance to students and teachers.
Preparation with students has been taking place since September with scrimmages taking place in schools during November to prepare students for the competition phases.
At the semi-final events, primary schools will compete against each other, present their projects to the judges and compete in a teamwork challenge with the finalists announced at the end of the day. The finals of the Primary School competition is taking place on March 1st in Cork Institute of Technology with the overall winners getting a spot in the VEX World Competition in Kentucky,
“The Dell VEX Robotics Programme is changing mindsets and addressing real issues with a problem-solving attitude; it focuses and inspires our young pupils to become the new innovators of their future. The fact that the pupils were more knowledgeable about some aspects of the robotics than their teachers meant that in our school the learning was pupil–led rather than what one might ordinarily expect.”
- Dónal Ó Murchú, Principal, GaelScoil Thomais Daibhis, Mallow
Several aspects differentiate the VEX Robotics Competition which is run by Dell from other school-based projects. The competition focuses on engaging children from a young age with students as young as nine and ten years old designing robots.
The whole class, at primary level, is typically involved meaning it engages all students and not just those who might already be tech-oriented. That is key to building a pipeline of talent that the technology industry needs to thrive. It also provides a wealth of opportunities to get involved within the community, from volunteers who provide mentoring sessions at their local school, to those who volunteer at an event as a referee, judge, inspector or more.
Bob Savage, Managing Director and Vice President EMEA, Dell Centre of Excellence said: “As a company we’re passionate about showcasing the exciting side of STEM subjects and inspiring students to become interested in science, technology, engineering and maths. Ultimately, we hope programmes like Dell VEX Robotics will have an impact on the choices students make when preparing for their Leaving Cert and when selecting courses for third level education. With Ireland’s tech sector continuing to thrive and technologies such as AI, VR and AR expected to be a core part of the future of work – regardless of the job or profession a student pursues, gaining these computational and engineering skills while still at school will be invaluable to them for the future.”