Electronics challenges in Co. Laois!

People of all ages enjoyed the Midlands Science Festival ‘Make Port’ workshops today in Portarlington, Co. Laois where sessions covering electronics, laser engraving and 3D printing.

 

Driving the Digital Revolution in the Midlands with Wriggle

Wriggle Roadcaster bus at Citywest Conference Centre.
Pictured is Simon Close, Primarty Level Lead Wriggle.ie, demostrates the ‘Sphere Robitics’.
Picture by Colm Mahady / Fennells – Copyright© Fennell Photography 2018

We are delighted to be providing some very new and exciting training this year for primary and secondary school teachers during Science Week with Irish educational technology company, Wriggle Learning. Using their Roadcaster, training from Wriggle will include Sphero, micro:bit, coding and VR/AR to demonstrate how technology can be used to support teaching and learning in schools across the country.

 
I caught up Simon Close, Wriggle’s Primary School Lead, to find out more.
 
Simon, we are really excited to be featuring Wriggle for the first time during Midlands Science Festival 2018! Your mission statement says, ‘At Wriggle, we pull all the pieces of the puzzle together.’ Can you tell us what this means and a little about what Wriggle do to support a school’s digital journey?
There have been significant changes to the Irish school curriculum in the last 5 or 6 years, particularly at post primary level with the introduction of the JCSA in 2014 and redesign and modification is still happening, which is fantastic. At the heart of this change is the use of technology. However, working with our partner schools, teachers and the wider school community, we have seen first-hand that we can’t simply throw the latest technology at a school and assume that change will happen overnight. The implementation of technology for teaching and learning needs to be considered, well thought out and ultimately, desired by all of those involved.
We support schools with formulating a longer-term vision for the use of technology in the classroom as well as providing the fundamental elements to make it happen i.e. technology, content, support and training.
 
Wriggle’s continuing professional development (CPD) model works with groups of educators in schools throughout Ireland to develop their skills and maximise the use of technology in their teaching. Have you delivered this to many teachers to date and what has the feedback been like?
To date, we have delivered training to more than 10,000 teachers throughout Ireland and we have seen a big jump in the last 12 months from teachers and schools looking to engage with us to deliver CPD. The importance of technology at Junior Cycle has meant schools are now having to utilise ePortfolio’s to store student work, carry out Class Based Assessment (CBA) and potentially introduce coding as part of the short course requirements.
The training workshops that we provide ensure that teachers are comfortable and proficient using the technology that is aligned to elements such as these.
 
Can you tell us about your own background and what led to your current role at Wriggle?
I started out working with our partner company Typetec in their graphic arts division having completed a business degree in DIT. I have been with Wriggle since its inception in 2013 and my roles to date have been focussed mainly around sales and marketing but when working for a start-up you do find yourself getting involved in all elements of the business which can be a real eye opener!
Supported by an incredible team, we have driven strong growth at post primary level and are now partnered with close to 200 schools and manage and support more than 40,000 devices. In 2017 we launched Wriggle Jr. to provide similar products and services to primary schools. I recently started a new role (School Development Director) responsible for the sales and marketing functions for our primary and post primary teams. It’s an exciting time!
 
Do you think parents play a significant role in supporting the digital education of their children? What can they do to support it better?
I think arguably, parents play the most important role in supporting the digital education of their children. It can be a daunting prospect for parents when it comes to the utilisation of technology in school, especially when it’s a personalised device that they bring home with them every day. However, we work closely with parents to provide the reassurances that their sons and daughters aren’t getting access to social media, games or inappropriate content on their devices because we have locked all of those elements down.
We also provide training for parents to demonstrate how they can manage their children’s devices in their own homes by keeping tabs on their screen time, internet browsing history and other useful tips and tricks. It will always be a challenge to stay ahead of the curve but as parents, we need to involve ourselves in our children’s education, technology or no technology.
 
What exactly is the Wriggle Roadcaster?
The Wriggle Roadcaster is a cutting edge 21st  century technology classroom on wheels! We repurposed it from a former library bus and have transformed it into a 21st century mobile learning classroom. It is designed to showcase to teachers and students what technology can do to support engagement and enhance teaching. Inside, the Roadcaster is kitted out with tablets, robotics, drones, coding equipment and other state of the art technological tools.
It travels around schools in Ireland, demonstrating to teachers and students at primary and secondary level how technology can be easily integrated into teaching and learning. It has been such a huge success so far and we’re trying our best to visit as many schools as possible in the months ahead.

Mergon Support Technology Learning Opportunity for Castlepollard Students

Midlands Science recently collaborated with Mergon International to provide an engaging and interactive coding workshop for the first and second year students of Castlepollard Community College.

Lucy Payne, Business Development Manager from iConnect Galway ran this ‘Coding Workshop’ for pupils at Castlepollard School, on 1 June 2017. Based on the Swift Playground app using the Apple TV, students explored how to use the Swift Playgrounds app and understand where coding is used in daily life.

Aisling Nolan, General Manager of Mergon International in Castlepollard said,
‘Mergon was delighted to partner with Midlands Science as a corporate sponsor in order to deliver this innovative event to a local school. Technology has the power to transform education and as a company, Mergon is always looking for ways to help inspire learning and encourage new ways of teaching the future generation. Swift, the powerful programming language which has been designed by created Apple, is intuitive and user friendly involving touch, motion and sound.’

Swift Playgrounds is a revolutionary app for iPad that makes learning Swift interactive and fun. It requires no coding knowledge, and is perfect for students just starting out. Using puzzles to master the basics with Swift students are equipped with a powerful programming language created by Apple that is used by the professionals to build today’s most popular apps. Students take on a series of challenges and step up to more advanced playgrounds designed by Apple and other leading developers.

Mary Coyle, principal at Castlepollard Community College said,
‘We were delighted to welcome Lucy Payne of iConnect to our school recently where students had the opportunity to enjoy a really immersive lesson in ipad technology and coding. The new Technology element of the curriculum enables students in the junior cycle of post-primary education to develop their technology knowledge and life skills and to apply these in real-world situations. We are very grateful to both Mergon and Midlands Science for this opportunity as we believe that by creating a more dynamic learning environment and giving students the tools and materials they need to succeed, their technology lessons can really be brought to life.’

Notes to Editors:
For more information on Swift and how iConnect can benefit your school or business please contact Lucy on 085 873 2331.
Media Enquiries: Victoria Marsden, Marketing Manager victoria.marsden@i-connect.ie

iConnect:
iConnect is an Apple Premium Reseller and Apple Solutions Education Experts serving every type of customer, from individuals to creative freelancers to professional businesses, schools and universities.
As Apple Solutions Education Experts iConnect also serves many of the countries primary, secondary and third level institutions with the most up to date Apple Solutions for Education.
Owned by Al Mana Lifestyle Limited and part of the Al Mana Group of Companies, iConnect has stores in Henry Street, Dublin, Liffey Valley Shopping Centre, Dublin and Whitewater Shopping Centre, Newbridge. The group also acquired Stream Solutions, Cork and Screenway Limited, Galway in 2015.

Good News for Ireland’s Tech Reputation

Ireland has been chosen to lead an EU consortium looking at the future of supercomputing across Europe. The consortium will form a centre of excellence to help bring this advanced technology into wider use.

Supercomputers are the most powerful computers available. They are regularly used to make weather predictions and to model the effects of climate change.

The EU announced recently that it would invest €140 million from its Horizon 2020 science programme to develop the next generation of supercomputing technologies.

The consortium, involving 16 other institutional and 12 industrial partners from around Europe, will be chaired by Prof Luke Drury of the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies.

Source: Irish Times