Errigal College students set to represent Ireland in Brussels

Students & Staff with EcoBot

Three transition year students from Errigal College have been selected to represent Ireland at
the third edition of the Women and Girls in STEM Forum, taking place in Brussels on 5th
December 2023. This is an annual conference to celebrate the students who participated in the
Girls Go Circular initiative, an initiative that supports students to develop their digital and
leadership skills while learning about the circular economy and finding solutions for a
sustainable future.

Andrea, Amelie and Josephine, under the guidance of their teacher Mr. Evan Gorrell, were
tasked with developing the idea for a robot to solve an environmental issue of their choice in
their school or their community. The aim of this project is to encourage female students to gain
more experience and self-confidence in dealing with technology applied to real-world issues and thus promote their interest in scientific fields.

These young ladies noticed the massive amount of food waste and single-use plastics in their
school and figured it was time to do something about it. Their idea would see a robot made from
recycled and sustainable materials to reduce its environmental footprint with its wheels being
powered by rechargeable batteries, ensuring that it’s energy-efficient.

The winning Irish entry, named EcoBot, is a compact robot designed to efficiently collect food
scraps and used materials in schools. It has sensors and cameras for navigation and a spacious
storage handbag with three compartments for refuse, compost, and recycling.

Mr. Evan Gorrell, Business and Computer Science Teacher at Errigal College, said “This is an
incredible achievement for our students and a testament to their hard work and dedication over
the last number of months. This project was a cross-curricular approach with exceptional
guidance also coming from Ms. Marie Crossan in our Art Department.”

Mr. McFadden, Principal of Errigal College, stressed the importance of promoting STEM among
female students, “I am very proud of Andrea, Amelie, Josephine and their teacher, Mr. Gorrell,
on all the hard work they have put into this project which sees them represent our country on
the European stage. We at Errigal College are dedicated to ensuring that our female students
have equal opportunities and access to STEM education. Encouraging young women to explore
STEM fields is not just an educational responsibility but a societal imperative.”

Errigal College has taken remarkable strides to encourage female students to explore the world
of STEM, forging meaningful partnerships and providing comprehensive support to create a
more inclusive future whilst offering a wide range of STEM subjects including Computer Science
and Engineering.

They recently entered into a five year partnership with local employer OPTUM Ireland,
cultivating a strong connection between education and industry. This partnership played a
crucial role in the school’s newly launched STEM Lab which is a testament to their commitment
to hands-on learning experiences.

Other partnerships include working closely with local feeder primary schools to emphasise the
importance of STEM, with a particular focus on coding through various workshops. They have
established strong connections with ATU Donegal, fostering an environment where female
students are encouraged to consider STEM fields and currently have twenty transition year
students enrolled in the ATU STEM Passport for Inclusion programme.

By working diligently to bridge the gender gap in STEM, Errigal College is creating a brighter,
more inclusive future for all.

Errigal College is excited to invite prospective students and their families to their Open Night on
Thursday, November 23rd. Staff will also be visiting feeder primary schools during the week of
Monday, November 13th. It’s an excellent opportunity for parents and students to explore what
the school has to offer and get a glimpse of the vibrant school community we have.

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