Kilkenny school receives STEM donation from software company Red Hat

Will allow teachers to provide real-life learning experiences in STEM through the use of LEGO, robotics and coding


Pictured are PJ and Ria Byrne of Bunscoil McAuley Rice exploring the new Lego WeDo kits in class

Bunscoil McAuley Rice primary school in Callan has received a boost in their plans for increasing STEM awareness, with help from Red Hat, a global software company with an office based in Waterford.

Ciaran Byrne, a Red Hat employee whose children attend Bunscoil McAuley Rice, made a request in March to the Red Hat Cares committee, with the support of the Red Hat Women in Ireland group, who are actively involved in community outreach and engagement on behalf of Bunscoil McAuley Rice. The local school were in pursuit of a new full-year initiative — the Discover Primary Science and Maths Award, known as the Badge of Excellence in STEM, involving every class in the school.

The plan was to hold a STEM ‘show and tell’ showcase event in the middle of March in the school hall, to provide an opportunity for children to experience and explore the work going on in other classrooms and also to share all that they have discovered in STEM subjects so far during that school year. Unfortunately due to restrictions as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the school was forced to close its doors until the start of the new school year this August.

However, the Red Hat Cares and Women in Ireland teams did not lose sight of their goal to support the school and worked tirelessly in the background. The result was that Red Hat made the very generous donation of €6,000 which was supplemented by local fundraising which added an additional €2,000 to the fund.

“This has come as fantastic news for our school and will enable our teachers to provide our pupils with real-life learning experiences in STEM subjects through the use of LEGO, robotics and coding in the classroom. WeDo 2.0 and Spike Prime are outstanding resources for fostering a sense of creativity and self-confidence in our children while also promoting problem-solving and experimentation across a wide range of subjects,” says teacher Damien Fogarty, who is responsible for the schools STEM programme.

“We are very much looking forward to seeing what our pupils can create in the year ahead! I want to extend a special word of thanks to both Ciarán Byrne and Judy Kelly of the Red Hat Women in Ireland group without whom this project would not have been possible.”

McAuley Rice immediately got to work to find an appropriate supplier of their chosen kit, which resulted in the delivery of 15 LEGO WeDo 2.0 classroom kits and 11 LEGO Spike Prime classroom kits which will be used in conjunction with the schools new iPads to learn all about computer coding, robotics and engineering in a fun, challenging and fully engaging way.

“Red Hat Women in Ireland’s mission is to give back’ knowledge, skills and support in our communities where our associates live and work,” explains Judy Kelly of the Red Hat Women in Ireland group.

“When we heard about Bunscoil McAuley Rice’s initiative to increase STEM awareness from fellow Red Hatter, Ciaran Byrne, we were only delighted to fund this endeavour with the help of the Red Hat Cares program. Looking forward to seeing the many hours of happiness and creativity this Red Hat sponsored Lego will bring the kids in McAuley Rice.”

Now that McAuley Rice has welcomed all of its pupils back to school, Principal John Moloney the future is looking bright.“We are delighted to be back to full time education and our students are excited at the prospect of learning about coding,robotics and engineering,” he says.

“We are very grateful to Ciarán Byrne and Judy Kelly of the Red Hat Women in Ireland group for their support with this exciting initiative. We hope that our students will become future coders,engineers and entrepreneurs in a brave new digital world. Thanks to Red Hat, the future looks bright!”

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