SchoolBots Press Release

SCHOOLBOTS COMPETITION ADDS UP TO BETTER IT AND MATHS SKILLS FOR IRELAND’S STUDENTS
Google and Lenovo lend their support to help inspire the next generation of Ireland’s technological talent

Student participation in computer games programming can help boost interest in mathematics and should be used to help reinvigorate the subject at second level, an Information Communication Technology programme specialist has stated.
Announcing a major computer games competition, Schoolbots for transition year students, Dr Liam Noonan, from Tipperary Institute’s ICT Department explained how computer game programming can illustrate the implementation of key mathematical concepts in a host of real-life applications. Taking theory from the text book and translating it into a tangible project not only makes the subject more interesting, it is also proven to improve results in the subject.
Sponsored by IT giants Google and Lenovo, the Tipperary Institute competition, Schoolbots – the only one of its kind in Ireland – takes place on January 13th next and aims to encourage students to develop new IT skills while improving their understanding of important maths principles.
“ICT is a key sector in the Irish economy – Ireland is recognised worldwide as an ideal environment for nurturing, developing and expanding ICT operations and it is reliant on a steady supply of high calibre graduates. With recent findings indicating a 56% shortfall in the number of students taking up places on third level IT courses and a marked decline in second level maths grades, a creative approach to engage students early is needed,” said Dr Noonan.
“One of the most practical ways to address the graduate shortage in the technology sector in Ireland is to introduce the applications of ICT at second level. The importance of mathematics for a range of applications, like computer game programming, is fascinating. Demonstrating this relevance can help to teach the subject more effectively while enhancing student interest and lead to better exam results and increased graduate numbers.”
“SchoolBots aims to introduce IT into the classroom in a fun and imaginative way, helping to discover and nurture new talent,” commented Eoghan Nolan, Engineering Manager, Google. “Innovation is at the heart of Google’s success and our people are fundamental to this. It is incredibly important to us as an employer and for the future economic success of Ireland, that our education system creates a pool of world-class IT graduates who can think creatively.”
He continued, “Initiatives such as SchoolBots are key in developing an understanding among students of how mathematics applies in the real world and also in helping students develop their innovative thinking powers. We are delighted to support Tipperary Institute with this project and we look forward to hosting the winning students at Google in Dublin next year.”
SchoolBots uses Java to program robot tanks for battle against each other. The virtual tanks need to be smart enough to hit and avoid being hit and to move around without any kind of manual control. Prizes include a Lenovo laptop for the winning school and mp3 players for the finalists and runners up.
The winning team and 15 of their classmates will also visit Google’s European headquarters in Dublin and have a tour of its facilities.
This is the third year of SchoolBots and last year’s winner was Cashel Community College school and the inaugural winners were all-girls school Our Lady’s Bower, Athlone.
“Lenovo is delighted to support this exciting competition as we know that it will inspire students with an interest in technology by showing them what can be achieved with a little work and an innovative spirit. We wish all the participants the best of luck and hope that they enjoy the experience” says Fiona O’Brien, General Manager of Lenovo in Ireland.
Students from schools across Ireland will compete in the regional final which will take place on 13th January 2009 at Tipperary Institute with the top eight teams competing against each other in the national final which will be held on 12th March 2009. The competition is limited to 40 teams and registration is on a first-come-first-served basis. Further information, registration details and competition terms and conditions can be obtained by visiting www.schoolbots.ie or emailing the competition organisers at schoolbots@tippinst.ie Closing date for entries is Friday 12th December 2008.
Ends

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