Dublin People

SFI Discover Weave Project

Prof. Deirdre Butler, Dr. Monica Ward, both from DCU, (left and center) and Dr. Yvonne Kavanagh from SETU Carlow - formly IT Carlow (right) chat on-stage with the students attending the SFI Discover Weave Project Showcase

By Jennifer McGarry

AS a new school year unfolds in September, it brings with it the return of old familiarities along with the excitement of new beginnings.

The team members on the Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) Discover Weave Project are no exception to this brewing excitement! The SFI Discover Weave Project is a collaborative, 2 year computational thinking project working with a wide variety of members: DCU, IT Carlow, Arizona State University, the PDST (Professional Development Services for Teachers) and several primary schools in the Dublin and Carlow areas.

Girls from 4th class, Scoil Mhuire Lourdes in Carlow put on a fantastic display at the SFI Discover Weave Project Showcase, clearly demonstrating how they could use robotics to improve their area.

Over the last year, the teachers and students involved with the SFI Discover Weave Project have honed their computational thinking skills as they identified a local problem and then designed useful, computational solutions to solve these problems.

These problems were researched by the students over a number of weeks to gain a deeper level of understanding of the issue.

Solutions to the various problems were then illustrated by the students’ Scratch animations, which facilitated the students expressing their thoughts and educating viewers on the local problem under investigation. Scratch is a block-based coding language and students created wonderful illustrations and interactive animations.

Students also demonstrated their engineering and design skills through building a working Lego robotic model to show an alternative solution to their identified problem.

Students, from Mary, Help of Christians Girls National School in Ashtown, displayed a prototype at the SFI Discover Weave Project Showcase of an alternative solution to the problem of fitting buses through the historic Phoenix Park gates.

Many areas of interest were identified and many local problems established: one group in Dublin decided to work as mini engineers and offer an alternative solution to the current problem of the historic gates into the Phoenix Park being too narrow for Dublin buses to get through!

Other student groups in Carlow were inspired by their research into the history of the St. Brigidine Sisters and the Sisters’ affiliation with nature, and decided to examine local, natural amenities to learn more about them and see if they could help improve these natural resources.

Teamwork makes the dreamwork! One group of students in St. Catherine’s Senior School tests their prototype.

At the end of Year One, students presented their wonderful designs and robotics at a showcase event at St. Patrick’s Campus in DCU, Dublin.

As Year Two begins, the SFI Discover Weave team want to say a huge thank you to all the students and teachers for their dedication and hard work that went into making Year One a success.

Through sharing their feedback and expertise in Year One, they have laid secure foundations for Year Two.

This will prove a huge support to the new teachers and schools that will be joining the second year of the SFI Discover Weave Project.

As the project expands, it will be very exciting to see what new designs and robotic models will be created by the participating schools – watch this space!!

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