Longford Microsoft Dream Space Showcase schools event hailed as huge success
Over 300 primary school children from 11 schools demonstrated over 70 projects
Longford County Council would like to congratulate all participants, their teachers and their schools who were involved in last week’s hugely successful Longford Microsoft Dream Space Showcase in Edgeworthstown.
The event involved the showcasing of projects by over 300 primary school children from 11 schools across county Longford, following their participation in the Microsoft Dream Space Academy education programme which introduces STEAM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) at primary level in a creative, fun and collaborative way.
The schools programme in Longford started as a national pilot in January, when Longford County Council IT Department and Longford County Library Services teamed up with Microsoft. Over a 10-week period, Microsoft issued an email to participating schools providing online tutorials/classes to Longford primary school teachers to help them use small computers called Micro:bits. These devices are a great introduction to computational thinking, problem solving skills and critical thinking.
The Showcase event on Friday was a celebration of all the schools’ journeys where they presented projects and learnings from this programme.
The programme and the Showcase were funded by Creative Ireland and supported by the Department of Public Expenditure NDP Delivery and Reform (PENDR) under the Public Service Innovation Fund 2023 and Longford County Council.
The project was also supported by industry partners Ericsson and HP who exhibited on the Showcase Day at St Mary’s Community Sports Hub, Edgeworthstown.
As well as the representatives from the tech companies, a number of the services of Longford County Council were also present, volunteering and exhibiting on the day. They included Longford Fire Services, Civil Defence, Longford Sports Partnership, Healthy Ireland, Longford Local Community Safety Partnership, the Roads Department, the Environment Department and Longford Arts Office.
Speaking after her school won the inaugural Longford Tech All Star Perpetual Award Cup, teacher at St Joseph’s National School Beatrice Shanley said, “We are just blown away by this whole process. This was the most amazing thing I’ve ever experienced as a teacher within County Longford. The whole process from the very beginning, week by week, generated so much creativity, inclusivity, and interest among the children. I’ve never seen a project quite like it. It was wonderful for us as teachers, to be learning alongside the children as we all worked through the programme together, with great support from Microsoft Ireland and Longford County Council throughout. I honestly couldn’t speak highly enough of the project, and I know that the younger classes are already talking about next year’s event. It’s really giving Longford primary schools a running start at the new curriculum subject areas of mathematics, science and technology.”
Cathaoirleach of Longford County Council Cllr Turlough McGovern paid tribute to everyone who was involved in the education programme since January and all those who pulled together to make the Showcase event a reality on Friday. “It was a real team effort from the children and teachers in the schools, to the adjudicators and the employees in Longford County Council who volunteered their time to make this a wonderful day for the children – and that’s what it’s all about. Our future is clearly in safe hands.”
Chief Executive Paddy Mahon added, “Friday was a fantastic day for Longford County Council. It’s clear already that the success of this initiative, as a key part of Longford’s Digital Strategy, will act as a catalyst towards the digital transformation of Longford. Longford County Council is committed to continuing to help children to learn, work and navigate everyday life in our digital world though the Longford STEAM programme.”
Speaking about the event Amanda Jolliffe, Microsoft Dream Space Lead said, “At Microsoft, we are committed to providing every student on the island of Ireland with the opportunity to engage in an immersive Microsoft Dream Space STEM experience in an effort to cultivate a new generation of digital leaders. With this in mind, we were delighted to partner with Longford County Council to help bring this initiative to life by engaging more rural schools in STEM and digital skills experiences through our Microsoft Dream Space experience. It was great to see so many schools participating on the day and we’re looking forward to welcoming many of them to our campus in Dublin later in June where they will be able to showcase their projects once again with schools from other counties who have engaged with us on this initiative. Congratulations to everyone involved in making this a reality. At Microsoft we look forward to continuing to work with schools and the education community across Longford to ensure the next generation are equipped with the skills they’ll need to compete in a digital economy.”
Speaking following the event, Head of Programs and Operations at Ericsson, Longford native Sinead Pillion said, “Ericsson is extremely proud to be part of such an important initiative. It was wonderful to see such creativity and innovation from all the young students. It’s clear that the future of engineering is in good hands.”
Longford County Council is also grateful to external exhibitors who participated on the day including Dean Hodge STEM Officer with Offaly County Council who facilitated the demonstration of VEX Robotics, the Foróige volunteers who assisted with the event as well as a dedicated team of adjudicators comprising of teachers from local secondary schools as well as members of the management team here at Longford County Council.
Longford County Council is working towards Longford being the first county in the country with Computer Science available as a Leaving Certificate option in all nine secondary schools.
The Longford Microsoft Dream Space Showcase will become an annual highlight for primary school pupils to work towards. Longford County Council looks forward to facilitating all our schools to get involved through the Longford STEAM Programme.