Galway primary schools through to national robotics competition final

Mountbellew National School pupils at the VEX 2023 robotics competition. Photo: Sean Lydon

Students from two schools in Galway are through to the national finals of a robotics competition after coming out on top in the region.

St Mary’s NS Mountbellew and St Vincent’s NS Coolarne will represent the Galway-Mayo region in the finals of the VEX IQ Robotics competition, along with Scoil Muire Gan Smal in Claremorris.

Those three took home the awards for excellence and teamwork at the regional competition hosted by ATU Galway City last Friday.

Claremorris and Coolarne NS pupils at at the VEX 2023 competition. Photo: Sean Lydon

Sponsored by Trane Technologies – Thermo King, the VEX IQ Teamwork Challenge comprises of a series of matches where participating schools team compete with their robots working collaboratively to score points.

The event, which was the culmination of months of hard work designing, building, trouble-shooting and coding their robots, saw over 400 primary school pupils ranging in age from 7 to 12 years, from 24 national schools, competing for a place in the national final.

Leah Cunningham, a pupil from Mountbellew NS, said, “We loved every minute of the thrilling competition in ATU Galway.”

“We knew little about technology a few months ago and now we’re off to Cork to compete against the best in the country.”

Other awards presented included the Design award won by Carnmore NS and Judges award won by Glencastle NS.

The competition also includes awards for driving and coding skills won by St Mary’s NS Mountbellew as well as best Robot design won by Carnmore NS.

Carnmore NS pupils at the VEX 2023 robotics competition. Photo: Sean Lydon

Dr Oliver Mulryan, Head of Mechanical Engineering at ATU Galway-Mayo, said that there was great enthusiasm from all the pupils in the competition.

“It was impressive to see how teachers harness the diversity of talents in the classroom to form a cohesive team on competition day.”

In this Galway-Mayo heat, participating schools included Williamstown NS, Louisburgh NS, Claddagh NS, Scoil Chomain Naofa NS Roundfort, St Patrick’s Primary School NS, St John’s NS Logboy, Caltra, Glinsk NS, Foxford NS, Facefield NS, Creagh NS, Cooneal NS, Eyrecourt NS, St Joseph’s NS Ballinrobe, St Augustine’s NS Clontuskert, Scoil Bhreandan Naofa Clonfert, Belmont NS, Barnatra NS, and Ballyvary NS.

Colin Murray, teacher of the 6th Class in St Mary’s NS Mountbellew, the overall winners of the event, added, “The Vex IQ competition is a fantastic opportunity for children to learn and experience all aspects of Stem education.”

“It both challenges and engages all the children and makes learning coding, designing and testing fun and educational. This is one of the best initiatives our school ever took part in.”