Seven students from Citywise Education Youth Centre in Tallaght, Co Dublin, will be heading to the European finals of the FIRST LEGO League in this May after they won the Irish final of the LEGO competition at the weekend for their app innovation to help the elderly record appointments using voice recognition.
On Saturday up to 280 students descended upon Galway to compete in the finals of the First LEGO League contest.
Teams of students had to design a project around creating solutions for people over the age of 60. The teams also had to design and programme a robot using LEGO before competing with other teams in a live robot game.
The winning team from Citywise Education Youth Centre in Jobstown, Tallaght, wowed the judges for their project on a creating a smartphone app to remind the elderly to make appointments or to take medicine using voice recognition.
The seven students who came away with the top prize were Daire Hennessy, Himanshu Singh, Jonathon Toah, Jakub Palusinski, Luke Whelan, Vlad Medves and Liam McMahon Buggy.
"They had to find a problem that people over 60 had and find a solution using science and technology," said Chris Smith, a youth worker at Citywise who was the students’ mentor.
"They focused on dementia and an app that uses voice-recognition so people can record appointments. There isn’t an app like this available at the moment," he said.
Smith said the students demoed the app on an iPad at the LEGO competition, but he said their aim is to create a cheaper tablet device with the same screen size to hold this software.
He said the students put in a lot of hard work and are now looking forward to heading to Germany in May to represent Ireland.
"Since September they had been meeting one evening a week after school. They then met three days a week over the Christmas holidays. And in the two weeks up to the LEGO event they were in Citywise until 8pm every evening working on the project, on top of doing their homework," said Smith.
He added that the students now have three months to work on developing their app before the European finals.
Bernard Kirk, director of The Galway Education Centre, which organises the Irish part of the competition, said that last year’s European finals hosted around 67 teams from across Europe in addition to further afield, including South Africa, China and Brazil.