Offaly County Council wins LAMA Award for Best Communications Initiative/Innovation. Receiving the award were (LR) Cllr Michael Anglim Chair of LAMA with Offaly County Council staff including David Spain, A/Head ICT, Jackie McIntyre, Senior Executive Librarian, Marty Whelan, MC of LAMA Awards, Megan Cronly, Offaly County Council Libraries, Minister Kieran O’Donnell Minister of State with responsibility for Local Government and Planning, Cllr John Clendennen, Cathaoirleach of Birr Municipal District, Ray Bell, Head of Broadband/STEAM Innovator, and Dean Hodge, STEM Educational Officer, Offaly County Council.

Council stresses role of STEAM in Offaly's future

Offaly County Council has said that STEAM is key to unlocking a better, smarter, and more resilient future for Offaly.

It comes as the council won the Best Communications/Innovation Award at LAMA Awards, which recognise excellence by Ireland’s local authorities.

The award was presented to Offaly County Council for ‘STEAMing Ahead: How Offaly’s Kids are Shaping our Rural Future’.

STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Maths.

Speaking about the win, Chief Executive of Offaly County Council, Anna Marie Delaney said that Offaly County Council “is innovating and transforming through a range of business, community, and educational initiatives and the VEX Robotics Competition is just one of these initiatives.

"Offaly, like other midland counties, has been impacted by the move away from peat production and electricity generation from peat. This transition has posed challenges for local communities, especially those employed in peat-related industries," she said.

"However, this award-winning programme combines hands-on learning, competition, and STEAM education to inspire the next generation of innovators and problem solvers," she added.

The event challenges students to design, build, code, program, and drive a robot.

Ms Delaney explained: "Every year we bring all the schools together to compete in the VEX Robotics Competition. This is an exciting annual event where students have fun, and they really enjoy it. It is in all primary and secondary schools in Offaly and each year over 2,000 students compete in the VEX Robotics Competition. Offaly County Council is investing in future generations by giving them the skills required for jobs, which may not be considered yet. Students who are developing their STEAM skills are more likely to invent, build, drive, and innovate future technologies that can benefit their lives and communities.”

Ray Bell, Broadband / Digital Officer, and STEAM innovator with Offaly County Council said: “A gender divide persists in STEAM education, and female interests in STEAM lags their male counterparts. All schools that participate ensure that girls and boys are equally represented on the school teams where possible. This year for example, we have more girls involved compared to boys. Empowering girls in STEAM activities is not just about equality; it is about driving progress, innovation, and sustainable development.”

The children involved in STEAM initiatives will drive the Offaly economy for the next 50 years and will sustain rural communities, the council said.

Ms Delaney added: "Offaly County Council is future proofing the county and its students in an exciting and engaging way. This project will undoubtedly ensure that today’s students are qualified for the jobs of tomorrow."