ESB Support The LEGO Mindstorms/Infinity Project Pilot

 

 

A pilot of a programme which could be considered to be “The First Steps to The Infinity Project" began in Primary Schools in March 2009. The pilot, which received generous funding from the ESB, is being implemented through the DISC Computerisation Project which is a constituent part of DIT’s Community Links programme headed by Professor Tommy Cooke. The pilot schools, selected with the aid of Ian Roller (DISC), comprise four Primary and two Secondary. The Primary schools chosen are:  George’s Hill and St Vincent’s (girls only), St Paul’s CBS and O’Connell’s CBS.  The pupils are fourth and fifth class, aged 9 to 11 years. The Secondary schools are St James CBS and Larkin College (co-ed) where students are in first year (age 13).

 

 
 

The LEGO Mindstorms NXT robot was chosen as the platform for the pilot by Michael Tully, School of Electronic and Communications Engineering and Director of The Infinity Project in Ireland.  The Mindstorms robot is programmed using National Instrument’s NXT-G graphical programming language and is  used in the pilot as a first step to the more complex task of building Virtual Instruments using LabVIEW software which is the industry standard and used in 25,000 companies around the world. The pilot curriculum is designed to include mathematical and science concepts which can be linked directly to the Mindstorms robot.  The curriculum format allows students to contribute to fundamental learning and logical reasoning. It enables them to develop problem solving skills and shows them that modern technology is not something to be frightened of but that it is in fact very understandable.

 

 
 

George’s Hill Girls Primary School

 

St Paul's CBS Primary School

 

 
 

 

The results to date are very encouraging and  the pupils have shown great interest, enthusiasm and ability. “They are learning maths and science without the negativity usually encountered by teachers”.  This is a most important development in education in Ireland. The Mindstorms robot has been used by teachers to stimulate interest in engineering for a number of years. However this connection to maths and science and to The Infinity Project is unique and would not have been possible without the vital link of LabVIEW software.

 

 

 

 

Pictured left to right are: Mr. Michael Loughnane, Manager of Leadership and People Development, Group HR, ESB; Mr. Michael Tully, School of Electronic and Communications Engineering, DIT; Mr. Eugene Dalton, Learning and Development Expert, Group H R, ESB; and Mr. Luke Shinnors, Executive Director, HR, ESB during the presentation of a cheque to support the Mindstorms/Infinity Project pilot.

 

 

  “ESB sees this initiative as making an important contribution to increasing interest in maths, science and engineering subjects in students at primary school level.In this regard it is very much in line with our own aim of building a pool of engineering talent that in time will become part of a valuable national human resource.”
(Mr. Eugene Dalton, Group HR, ESB)