Primary school students went head-to-head at VEX Robotics North East Regional Competition

25 January 2019

Dundalk Institute of Technology (DkIT) hosted its first ever VEX IQ Primary School Regional Competition. The initiative is supported by Dell and was organised by the Computing and Engineering Departments at DkIT.



11 primary schools from across the North Leinster region participated in the competition which introduces students to the exciting world of robotics education. The VEX Robotics Challenge calls on students at primary and secondary school level to work in teams to design, build and program a robot. They then compete in a spectacular robotic competition. Preparation with students has been taking place since September. DKIT held its first scrimmages in November of last year to prepare students for the competition phases.

Participating primary schools included  St Mary's National School, Knockbridge; Scoil Naomh Feichin; Swords ETNS; Scoil Mhuire na nGael, Dundalk; CBS Primary Dundalk; Aston Village ETNS; St Buites NS, Tenure; St Marys Parish Primary School; Scoil Náisiúnta Muire gan Smál, Termonfeckin; Scoil Mhuire Gan Smál, Kilkerley and Francis St CBS, Dublin.

A number of awards were presented to schools on the day. These included:

  • Judges Award: Scoil Náisiúnta Muire gan Smál,  Sandpit
  • Design Award: Scoil Naomh Feichin (Termonfeckin)
  • STEM Presentation Award: Swords ETNS
  • Robot Skills Champion Award: St Marys Parish Primary School
  • Teamwork Champion Award: Swords ETNS and St Marys Parish Primary School

Swords ETNS was awarded the overall regional “Excellence Award” will now progress to the National Robotics Competition  which takes place later in the year where they will compete against regional winners from across the country.

Brendan Ryder, Head of Department of Visual & Human Centred Computing at DkIT said: “As an Institute we’re passionate about showcasing the exciting side of STEM subjects and inspiring students to become interested in science, technology, engineering and maths. It is wonderful to witness STEM come alive through competition. Ultimately, we hope programmes like VEX Robotics will have an impact on the choices students make when preparing for their Leaving Cert and when selecting courses for third level education. With Ireland’s tech sector continuing to thrive and technologies such as AI, VR and AR expected to be a core part of the future of work – regardless of the job or profession a student pursues, gaining these computational and engineering skills while still at school will be invaluable to them for the future.”

During the same week, DkIT also organised a VEX EDR Workshop for secondary school students from across the region. The EDR Challenge is a more advanced robotics challenge for teens up to 18 years old. Participating secondary schools included Ard Schoil Ris, Ardee Community School, Castleblayney College, Colaiste Dhulaigh Post Primary, Dundalk Grammar School, O Carolan College, Our Lady’s Secondary School, Patrician High School, Sacred Heart Secondary School, St Kevin’s College, St Mary's College, St Oliver’s Community School and St Joseph’s Secondary School.

Also speaking today, Shane Darcy, Computing Lecturer and Lead Coordinator of the VEX Robotics initiative at DkIT said,

“VEX Robotics puts the emphasis on STEM. The robot kits promote creativity, problem solving and teamwork through the engineering of students’ own designs! We know that we need more students choosing STEM-related paths to meet the growing national and global demand and we need to look to new ways of teaching to engage out students from a young age. At DkIT we adopt a more hands-on approach to learning to equip our students with the necessary skills that are needed to succeed in today’s workplace.”

DkIT currently offers a variety of level 7 and level 8 computing programmes at both undergraduate and postgraduate level. For more information, please visit https://www.dkit.ie/cao-hub/computing-and-it.html


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