This Saturday, up to 300 school kids between the ages of 9 and 16 will descend upon Galway for the Irish finals of the First LEGO League. The robotics competition itself has gleaned the backing of such celebrities as Will.i.am, the frontman for the Black Eyed Peas, and singer/actress Miley Cyrus.
Speaking this morning, Bernard Kirk of Robotics Ireland, which manages the Irish segment of the global First LEGO League, said the students come from a mixture of after-school clubs and schools to build and programme robots.
This year’s theme is based on food safety and the students have been tasked to come up with innovative solutions to real-world problems by building LEGO-based robots.
Students have been asked to submit their robot entries based on the idea of improving the quality of food by preventing food contamination. The competitors will work in teams and explore all aspects of food safety, from farming methods and hygiene to processing and storage.
Kirk said today that the aim is to fuel their imaginations and apply maths and science concepts to their robotic solutions.
The students will also get the chance to compete in the ROBOTICS challenge. About 20 teams will be vying this weekend to be in with a chance to represent Ireland in the European championships later this year.
Last year’s winners
Students Adrian Murphy, Donnacha Barry, Paul Murray, Luke Benson, Oisin Kyne and Paul McDonagh from St Gerard’s Secondary School in Castlebar, Co Mayo. The team won the Irish leg of the First LEGO League in 2011
Last year’s winners hailed from St Gerard’s College in Castlebar, Co Mayo. The team went on to compete in the global finals in St Louis, Missouri, where they won the ‘Most Inspirational Team’ award for their biomedical engineering project.
Stemming from that project three of the Castlebar students – Luke Benson, Donnacha Barry and Paul McDonagh – went on to develop an app called iCollapse for last week’s BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition (BTYSE). The app won the Google Trailblazer Award, while it also came second overall in the technology category.
This smartphone application aims to assist people who are liable to collapse. It has a built-in accelerometer. If its detects a potential collapse, the app will contact the emergency services. SAP is now designing the iCollapse app.