Irish Girl Guides (IGG) used Lego Robotics materials to showcase their solutions to tackle the issue of water sustainability at an expedition in DCU on November 17th.
Over the space of five weeks, 200 members of the Brownies, all aged between seven and ten, worked in teams of four to six to research the issue of water sustainability and explore innovative ways to preserve water.
Each team designed, built and programmed a motorised Lego conservation model. They also designed a ‘Show Me’ poster that illustrated diagrams of their solutions and the research they engaged in.
Irish Girl Guides National Programme and Training Commissioner Jenny Gannon said the organisation was delighted to undertake the project with Brownies from Meath, Louth, Cavan, Monaghan, Cork and Carlow.
“Earlier this year 200+ Brownies from Dublin, Wicklow and Kildare took part in the first phase of Irish Girl Guides Innovatively Engaging with STEM (IGGIES) and it’s been great to give another 200+ Brownies from other counties the same opportunity,” she said.
Dolmen Brownies leader Laura Kirwan, oversaw her unit of 28 girls take part in the expo.
“A new initiative was introduced this year to allow Brownies to earn engineering badges…elements of the (IGGIES) program could be applied to this initiative so it was easily incorporated into the Brownies program,” she said.
IGGIES is a partnership with DCU’s LearnIT and LEGO Education Innovation Studio (LEIS) and is sponsored by Science Foundation Ireland.
Since LEIS was established in February 2017, a programme of annual events for learners in primary, post-primary and third level have taken place, including FIRST LEGO League Jr.
LearnIT and LEIS invited IGG to apply for scholarships to take part in FIRST LEGO League Jr 2018/2019 and a team of 18 girls were selected. They now have to prepare projects on space for the exhibition that takes place at the end of January 2019.
Chief Commissioner of IGG and current DCU student Helen Concannon said “The teams travel from all over Ireland to DCU to make use of the wonderful Lego studio. In between, they Skype and communicate virtually to ensure their projects are progressing.”
“This partnership has enabled hundreds of Irish Girl Guide members to develop new skills, learn new technologies and work together to solve global issues. Both adults and girls alike have enjoyed the projects and valued the connection with DCU,” she said.
Head of digital learning at DCU’s Institute of Education, Professor Deirdre Butler believes IGG are uniquely positioned to positively affect gender imbalance in STEM disciplines and careers.
“Encouraging these young girls to ask questions about the world, to problem solve, and to use natural creativity through play, creativity, and experimentation we believe can lead to them engaging in innovative STEM related careers in the future,” she said.
President of DCU and Chair of the STEM Education Working Group Professor Brian MacCraith said, “DCU’s Institute of Education strives constantly to be at the vanguard of innovations in learning” and hopes initiatives such as FIRST LEGO League Jr will ignite a lifelong passion for STEM subjects within children at a formative age.”
Image credit: Irish Girl Guides