Shaping Offaly’s Smart Future with Primary School children through Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) using VEX IQ Robotics

Offaly County Council and the Department of Rural and Community Development are providing funding under the Digital Innovation Programme to roll out an exciting new digital initiative for 16 primary schools in Offaly. The Initiative is to expose students to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) fundamentals within the context of building a robot using Vex IQ.

VEX IQ is primary school level competition that will be delivered in collaboration with Cork Institute of Technology (CIT). Offaly Local Enterprise Office, Offaly Library Service and our Information Technology department will also provide support for the programme. The digital initiative aims to foster a lifelong interest in the areas of STEM.

VEX IQ Offaly Primary School Group

Arising from the industrial heritage of ESB and Bord na Mona activity in Offaly, the County has strong economic capability in engineering and technology. Award winning engineering companies in the county include: Grant Engineering, Romaquip, Banagher Concrete, Inland and Coastal, Applied Concepts, McDonald Engineering, and Coughlan Engineering. These companies, together with numerous smaller engineering companies are all embracing robotics and technology in their businesses. Encouraging these skills in school children will enhance the County’s capability in this area.

On Friday 8th February we launched the initiative with the 16 primary schools. David Hodge who will be delivering the programme and who is Lecturer with the Faculty of Engineering and Science with Cork Institute of Technology (CIT) spoke of his joy in rolling out this initiative in Offaly. David said he is looking forward to working with the teacher and students in Offaly.

Ray Bell, Digital / Broadband Officer for Offaly County Council explained that Primary School is the most formative time in a young student's life. The best way to instil a lifelong interest in the areas of STEM is to provide a fun, engaging, and hands-on opportunity to explore and experience it for themselves. This initiative will enable children to compete in the Offaly VEX IQ Championship each year.  A gender divide persists in STEM education, and female interests in STEM lags behind their male counterparts. We want schools that participate to ensure that girls and boys are equally represented on the school teams where possible.

VEX IQ Offaly - David Hodge CIT and Ray Bell Offaly County Council

In recent years, the Irish Government has placed a particular emphasis on improving the quality of education in STEM. Speaking last week, Minister Ring said: “I am very pleased to announce additional funding for the Digital Innovation Programme. The Programme supports local authority led projects that demonstrate clear potential for public benefit and that can be scaled up or replicated elsewhere."

Speaking about the value to communities of these initiatives, Minister Canney said: “The Digital Innovation Programme is designed to support and encourage imaginative uses of technology for the common good."

Offaly County Council is looking forward to working with the following 16 primary schools on this initiative over the coming years:

  • Shinchill National School – Killeigh
  • Geashill National School – Geashill
  • Rahan National School – Rahan
  • Clara Convent – Clara
  • Daingean National School – Daingean
  • Manachan an Tobar – Tubber
  • Clonbullogue National School – Clonbullogue
  • St Marys National School – Cloghan
  • Clonmacnoise National School – Clonmacnoise
  • Walsh Island National School - Walsh Island
  • Ceann Eitigh National School – Kinnitty
  • Seosamh Muine Gall – Moneygall
  • Ballinamere National School – Ballinamere
  • Coolderry Central National School – Coolderry
  • Lumcloon National School – Lumcloon
  • Muire Naofa Pollach - Pullough

VEX IQ Offaly - David Hodge CIT