Two Birr sisters took part in a Mission to Mars Lego Robotics Summer Academy in Dublin City University (DCU) this week.
Aoife Guinan, aged 15, and Aisling Guinan (22) joined members of Irish Girl Guides from around the country at the week-long course organised by the DCU Lego Education Innovation Studio.
During the academy the girls had hands-on experience making Lego robots, which they learned to manoeuvre using programming. They gained a range of skills in computational thinking, engineering and programming during the course, which was engaging and hands-on.
The course was designed to encourage the girls to take Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects in school and college and to consider pursuing careers in STEM.
Speaking of their experience Aisling who works as a web developer in STEM said it was interesting to learn about the engineering side of things.
"I am a web developer - but I have never had the chance to get hands-on with the hardware side of things, with robotics, so it’s been a really cool week to learn about the robotics, engineering side of things and a little about space; it’s been really cool,” she said, while sister Aoife was delighted to learn something new.
“I really enjoyed this week because I got to learn a lot of new stuff about coding and programming and building robots, which is something I’ve been really interested in since I was about 7 or 8, and I got to make a lot of new friends who have the same interests as me. I’d be really interested in having a STEM career because I love practical work because everything makes sense, everything has its place and I really like engineering – I like working things out and problem-solving.”
Rosemary Steen, director of public affairs at Eirgrid, told them to work in STEM you have to be open-minded and not afraid of change. "Keep learning and growing. Try to manoeuvre around until you find what might work for you as a career,” said Ms Steen.
The girls also had a Skype call with Dr Niamh Shaw, who recently took part in a simulated Mars mission in the Utah desert. Dr Shaw is lecturer at the International Space University’s annual Space Studies Programme in Cork.