Longford Microsoft Dream Space Showcase sees over 450 children demonstrate STEAM projects

Eighteen County Longford primary schools take part in local science event 

Press Release: Monday, 17 June 2024 

Over 450 children from 18 primary schools across the county took part in Longford Microsoft Dream Space Showcase 2024. The event took place on Friday, 24 May in Edgeworthstown. The event involved school children demonstrating over 100 STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and maths) projects. 

Longford's Microsoft Dream Space Showcase is co-funded by the Government of Ireland and the European Union through the EU Just Transition Fund Programme 2021-2027. The equipment used by the schools on the day was supported by Longford County Council and the Department of Public Expenditure, National Development Plan (NDP) Delivery and Reform under the Public Service Innovation Fund 2023. 

The event was supported by industry and the wider public sector with Microsoft, Ericssons, Computex, and FIT (Fasttrack into Information Technology) attending on the day with exhibition stands at the event. The event was also supported by secondary schools throughout County Longford who provided the adjudicators to meet and talk to the young primary school students about their projects.

Other exhibitors included teams from across Longford County Council, highlighting work areas including information technology, climate action, road and fire safety and sports partnership. Local organisations Comhairle na nÓg and Music Generation Longford also took part. Connectivity for the many STEAM projects on display at the event was supported by Eurona Arden Broadband. 

Longford Microsoft Dream Space Showcase is the culmination of months of engagement with schools including hands-on STEM sessions from the Microsoft Dream Space teaching team and a 10-week Dream Space TV programme. This included teaching school children computer science, micro: bit technology and artificial intelligence. 

Now in its second year, the initiative started as a way to foster a love of STEAM subjects in primary school children. Ultimately, it is hoped that this will lead to all County Longford secondary schools offering computer science as a Leaving Certificate subject. 

Former Longford County Council Cathaoirleach Cllr Colm Murray said, "It is great to be here at Longford Dream Space 2024. I want to thank the children for all their excellent projects. I also want to thank Microsoft and Ericssons, along with all the teachers, exhibitors, volunteers, Council employees and the elected members for supporting this initiative. I look forward to seeing more and more local children go on to excel in STEAM subjects, with this interest developed and encouraged by their experiences at the Longford Dream Space Showcase."

Longford County Council Chief Executive Paddy Mahon said, "This is a truly innovative event which we are extremely proud of championing in County Longford. Now in its second year, it is great to see it get even bigger for 2024 with more children and schools demonstrating their excellent projects. The Council is proud to drive this project forward and work with such excellent technology companies."

Speaking about the event Microsoft Dream Space Lead, Amanda Jolliffe said, "Through Microsoft Dream Space, our STEM and AI education programme, designed to support students from all communities and backgrounds across the island of Ireland, we focused on equipping the next generation with the essential skills required to thrive in the era of AI. The Microsoft Dream Space Showcase initiative is one of many ways we engage the school community during the year. We were delighted to be able to once again work with the team at Longford County Council and the school network across the county to engage so many students in the initiative. We look forward to welcoming the schools to our Campus in Dublin where the students will get the chance to display their projects alongside the additional schools and counties who engaged with us on this initiative."

Ericssons Ireland Head of Network Management Engineering Program and Operations Sinéad Pillon said, "Ericsson were delighted to support the Longford County Council 2024 Dream Space event. We strongly believe in the importance of investing in these young students and it's wonderful to see their talent and enthusiasm demonstrated throughout the day. It's clear from the increased participation this year and higher quality of projects that STEM is gaining more and more traction in schools in the region which is a real positive indication that we are creating a local talent pipeline for the future."

Speaking after her school won the Ballymahon Municipal District Tech All Star Perpetual Award, St Mary's, Edgeworthstown National School teacher Shannon Boyle said, "From the outset I was blown away at the opportunities that Dream Space created for schools within County Longford. To be honest at the start I wasn't sure about taking part, I knew nothing about coding but when we took the plunge, we could see it was so much more than that! I couldn't recommend the whole experience highly enough to any schools considering taking part. The support from Longford County Council and Microsoft was second to none. It's an experience that offers development to teachers and students. Coding although a fundamental part is just one piece of the whole project. There are opportunities to be creative, promote communication skills and team building. The confidence it has given to students is something to be in awe of. It provides a new angle to explore many curricular areas in a fun, challenging and enjoyable experience. We are already planning and looking forward to Dream Space 2025."

Longford County Council would like to thank involved in both the preparations and on the day of Longford Microsoft Dream Space Showcase 2024, including all the school children, the teachers, all volunteers, exhibitors, and adjudicators.

For further information, visit Longfordcoco.ie or follow Longford County Council on social media.