Coláiste Mhuire, Mullingar students at The Foundry @ Google for the School Digital Champion Project Showcase. Photo by Shane O'Neill, SON Photographic

Westmeath school showcases novel digital tech solutions at the School Digital Champion final

Students from secondary schools across Ireland gathered at The Foundry @ Google last Thursday for the School Digital Champion Project Showcase, the final event in the 2018-19 edition of the government’s School Digital Champion Programme.

In all, 57 projects from 39 schools representing 18 counties across Ireland were displayed, focusing on how digital technology could be used to make a difference to students’ schools, homes, communities, and local businesses in the areas of waste management, climate action, energy efficiency, and digital inclusion.

Westmeath was represented by Coláiste Mhuire, Mullingar, whose students presented three projects. 

One team created the Mullingar Walking Tour App, which gives facts and information about the area; another team created an app to provide information on Fair Trade food in the community as they discovered that many people are not aware of what is available in relation to Fair Trade; and the third team created video content showcasing the day-to-day work and interviewing employees in order to make the community aware of what is happening behind the scenes in local industries. 

The submissions covered a wide array of topics, with recycling, sports, and digital education being of particular interest to Irish students, while mobile apps and video content were the favoured methods of delivery. 

Many projects in particular involved promotion of the students’ schools, and some of the more elaborate entries involved virtual reality tours, 360 video, and even an exact, brick-by-brick digital replica of one school in the format of the popular Minecraft game.

Coláiste Mhuire, Mullingar students at The Foundry @ Google for the School Digital Champion Project Showcase. Photo by Shane O’Neill, SON Photographic

The initiative, launched as part of the National Digital Strategy to promote digital adoption and encourage the productive use of technology by students, was run by the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment in collaboration with the Department of Education and Skills.

Seán Canney, TD, Minister of State with responsibility for Digital Development, said: “The quality of the projects displayed has been exemplary, each showing how digital technology skills can be used to find solutions to day-to-day problems in innovative and novel ways. 

“Not only did the programme encourage students to develop their creativity, critical-thinking, and communications skills, but equally importantly it provided students with a platform to drive digital adoption outside the walls of the classroom by connecting with local enterprises and the wider community.”

Shane Nolan, director of New Business Sales EMEA at Google, added: “Promoting computer science and STEM subjects in schools is of huge importance to us, so we were delighted to assist in the School Digital Champions Programme by welcoming over 280 students and 40 teachers to the Google HQ. 

“It was great to see that the projects involved interaction with the students’ communities, because good tech ideas such as the ones we saw today can help solve real world problems and benefit society as a whole.”

The School Digital Champion Project Showcase event took place at The Foundry @ Google in Dublin, where students displayed and demonstrated their projects, took part in fun interactive activities, and listened to informative talks.  

Students were  presented with Certificates of Participation by Minister Seán Canney.