Tech Week is back!  Ireland’s national festival of technology aimed at students, parents and the public began yesterday and will run until 30 April. Organised by the Irish Computer Society, and part-funded by Science Foundation Ireland, the week will see more than 100,000 primary and post-primary pupils all over Ireland taking part in a range of fun activities including the finals of tech competitions that have been running throughout the past year.

Tech Week 2016 is an Irish Computer Society initiative sponsored by Science Foundation Ireland and Salesforce.org and supported by Google and Puca.

Jim Friars, CEO of the Irish Computer Society, explained why Tech Week is so important: “Ireland needs an additional 45,000 new ICT professionals by 2018 to fuel economic growth.  Tech Week is about experience.  It’s about giving students and society a chance to reflect on technology and interact with it in a fun and positive way. The current generation of children and teens are ‘digital natives’ but instead of just using technology it’s important for them, and their parents, to understand that careers in technology are creative, rewarding and enriching.

“Tech Week provides hands-on opportunities for young people to learn about how computing and related technologies are shaping every area of life. The aim is to stimulate thinking around future opportunities for study and careers in technology, through learning in the wider areas of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects.

“We also believe that computing skills, computational thinking, coding and data analysis are areas that students need to be exposed to at an earlier stage and the best place for that to happen is in school. They don’t have to become Leaving Certificate subjects but as a start we would like to see some technology projects placed as modules, for example, into the post-primary curriculum. To avoid overloading already busy schools, we need to see new resources created through a coalition of State, industry and professional interests. That’s why we have proactively developed learning modules, integrated curricula and other resources to make this a realistic option for schools and teachers at primary and post-primary levels.”

Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government, said“Technology underpins so much of our lives today.  Our young people enthusiastically embrace it as users but just imagine the possibilities for our future if we could equip them with skills like coding that help them move from ‘the passive’ to ‘the participant,’ and maybe one day to ‘the drivers’ of innovation.  Innovation 2020, the national strategy for R&D, science and technology, highlights that innovation needs innovative people.  Science Foundation Ireland plays a national role in encouraging young people to play their part in #ScienceRising as innovators solving tomorrow’s challenges.  Our support for Tech Week is helping do this by highlighting excellent achievements and the people who make them happen in the world of technology.”CMC2444-620[7] copy

SOME HIGHLIGHTS

The highlight of this year’s Tech Week will be a showcase which takes place in Dublin’s RDS on Thursday, 28 April. The showcase will include the F1 in Schools finals, where pupils use CAD to design and race model F1 cars, the Scratch Coding Final and workshops, for example,  ‘How smart are your clothes?’.

Students from LIT (Limerick Institute of Technology) and St. Patrick’s Girls National School in Limerick will demonstrate the use of Google Cardboard, Oculus Rift, Meccano Robot, Tobii Eye Movement, along with more exciting technologies, to the young people attending on the day.

Activity packs have also been sent out to all schools nationwide to ensure as many young people as possible will enjoy Tech Week 2016, and regional events will take place around the country, including:

  • An “Old Tech” Exhibit will take place in Tramore and software engineer Rachel Sherry will talk about her journey to a career in technology
  • Coláiste Chill Mhantáin in Wicklow Town will hold a “Robot Build Week” during which first year students will begin assembling and programming meccanoid robots
  • Dublin’s Digital Hub will host a “Sonic Pi Workshop” for 12-17 year olds. Sonic Pi is an open source software that allows you to make music using code
  • The Computer and Communications Museum of Ireland in Galway will host a re-enactment of the world’s first radio broadcast, a radio transmission on Tuesday 25 April 1916, during the Easter Rising
  • First year students in Ashbourne Community School will use a new coding programme to create a game – Minecraft, Starwars or Frozen
  • The Science Gallery in Dublin will hold a meet-up of the CodEd Club, a community of coders run by educators and developers 
  • Togher Girls National School in Cork will hold a Parent Internet Safety Night as part of their efforts to build a generation of responsible digital citizens whose online behaviours demonstrate media literacy, safety and security, ethics and community.

Further information on each of these events, and more, can be found on www.techweek.ie

You can learn all about Tech Week 2016 by downloading the Tech Week App, visiting www.techweek.ie,  facebook.com/techweekirl and following @TechWeekIRL on Twitter.