Clontuskert NS is a pioneering school in the use of digital technologies to aid the implementation of the Irish Primary school curriculum and it is the first school in Ireland to use WeDo LEGO© Robotics to facilitate cross curricular project work. Find out up to date information about our work in robotics here and here
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Bernard Kirk Galway Education Centre, Simon Davenport FLL England and Ireland, Matthew Parkes, LEGO Europe, Cathal O Connell Empowering Minds Ireland visit Clontuskert NS

St. Augustine’s National School in Clontuskert near Ballinasloe is to become a pioneer in the robotics field it was announced last week. Matthew Parkes and Simon Davenport visited the school as guests of Galway Education Centre Director, Bernard Kirk. Matthew is European Head of Education for LEGO® and Simon Davenport is First LEGO League Programme Manager for the UK and Ireland. Both were in Ireland to discuss and promote the educational benefits of using LEGO in the classroom. They were joined by Cathal O’ Connell of the Empowering Minds Group of Ireland and all were treated to an engaging presentation by the students of 2nd, 3rd and 4th classes detailing their work in LEGO robotics.

Enjoying the presentation from Clontuskert NS students

LEGO has for generations, provided opportunities for hands on, kinaesthetic learning that promotes collaboration and team building skills amongst children and young adults. Now LEGO have created a robotics system called WeDo™ as an introduction to robotics for younger children. This set is similar to the NXT LEGO Mindstorms kit but is aimed at 7 to 11 year olds. WeDo allows children to build and create their own model robots and then program them to move through the computer. It provides a foundation in construction and programming, tying extremely well into the Irish Primary School Curriculum.

Team Building

Clontuskert National School has been chosen to pilot WeDo Robotics in Ireland. This means that the children will trial the new products and share their learning experiences on their school blog, Clontuskert already uses the RCX and NXT kits within the school as a tool for cross curricular exploration. Last year they undertook a Waterways Project that saw them visit Portumna Bridge and Pollboy Lock as guests of Waterways Ireland. They studied the engineering mechanisms of the bridge and lock and replicated them in LEGO. The students worked in collaborative teams to create these working models. The research they embarked on became the basis for a written project, documented on the school blog. This tied in with their history curriculum, as they learned about the Grand Canal and its path through the parish. The fifteen mile stretch of the canal from Shannon Harbour to Ballinasloe was opened in 1828. It provided employment to many from the parish of Clontuskert at the time. Thousands of barges travelled up and down the canal providing a vital economic link to Dublin until 1959 when the Ballinasloe leg was shut down. The students linked with Clontuskert Heritage Group and Joe Molloy to learn more about the canal and its connection to the area.

Teams working on models

WeDo robotics will allow the students of Clontuskert to engage with their learning in a practical manner that will provide essential training that will surely stand to the students in their future careers. Opportunities for development of skills in mathematics and science are obvious benefits of engagement with this program and the students are looking forward to developing 21st century skills limited only by their imaginations. There are exciting days ahead for the students of St. Augustine’s National School.

Simon Davenport FLL and Cathal O Connell Empowering Minds

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