Up to 280 students between the ages of 9 and 16 will be heading to Galway this Saturday to take part in the Irish finals of the FIRST LEGO League Challenge, with teams being tasked to build robots and create apps as part of the live event.
This is the seventh year that the competition has been running in Ireland.
Tomorrow’s live event will kick off in the Radisson Hotel in Galway at 10am and will be open to the public, according to Bernard Kirk, the director of the Galway Education Centre, which organises the competition.
Kirk said the 280 students who are taking part in this year’s competition hail from a mixture of secondary schools, after-school clubs and robotics clubs. He said a team of students from France is also participating in the Irish finals tomorrow. That’s because the FIRST LEGO League doesn’t run in France.
The theme of this year’s challenge is ‘senior solutions’. "Students have to look at an everyday problem that people over 60 have and then create a solution," said Kirk.
Mairéad Ní Dhuibhghiolla from Coláiste na Coirbe in Galway adds the final touches to a LEGO robot. Along with five other teammates, Mairéad will be competing in the FIRST LEGO League on Saturday
There will be three parts to the challenge: a project, a robot game and teamwork.
Kirk said that for their projects, students can either create apps or they can come up with an IT or engineering solution, for example.
For the robot game, he said students build their own robots using LEGO. After programming the robots, teams must then get their robots to carry out as many tasks as possible in less than three minutes on a themed playing field.
"Every year we expect the best from the students involved and every year they surprise us with their innovation, enthusiasm and intelligent applications," said Kirk.
The overall winners of this year’s contest will represent Ireland in the European final in Germany in early May.
Last year’s winners of the Irish leg of the competition was Termin8tors, a team of nine students who created a smartphone app with the aim of educating people about food safety.