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Ireland’s a lovely place to visit, and Dublin is chock full of interesting sites to see. My favorites in the city center include: Marsh’s Library, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, one of the brewery or distillery tours (I’ve not yet been to Teelings Distillery, but it’s near Marsh’s and St. Patrick’s), Grafton Street, Trinity College walking tour with the Book of Kells, the Little Museum of Dublin, the Archeology Museum with the bog men, and the theaters (Gaiety, Abbey, Gate, and Olympia). I highly recommend a visit to the Queen of Tarts (on Lord Edward Street or it’s sister site on Cow’s Lane).

A bit out of the city center but still in Dublin are some of my very favorite sites: the Kilmainham Gaol (historic jail) and the Glasnevin Cemetary which has excellent tours plus a genealogy museum—it’s located adjacent to the Botanical Garden and the Gravedigger’s Pub.

The best place for traditional Irish music in Dublin is in north of the River Liffey  (Cobblestone Pub, run by a history buff and frequented by them as well), but O’Donoghue’s is also good for trad music and is in the center of town.

Good day trips from Dublin include Glendalough (monastic town with two scenic lakes) and Newgrange (a megalithic passage tomb, and World Heritage Site). In the same general area as Newgrange, Trim Castle warrants a visit. To the southwest of Dublin, I also enjoy visiting Kilkenny (I still need to visit the Smithwich’s brewery there) and the Rock of Cashel.

Closer in, there are lovely little costal villages around Dublin, including Dún Laoghaire (where you can walk the piers or visit the Sunday market in the People’s Park), Blackrock, and Dalkey. All three of these costal towns are to the south of Dublin and can be reached by train or bus. Howth is another nice costal village; it’s to the north of Dublin, and also accessible by train or bus. If you’re out near Howth with a car, the Casino Marino is fun to visit.

If you’re on a visit to Dublin and have enough time to go farther afield by car,  you should travel out overnight to one of some of the major sites in the west of Ireland, such as the Ring of Kerry, or Dingle, or Claire, or East Cork (with stops in Cork, Kinsale, and/or Cobh).

I really enjoy county Donegal but I’d say that you’d need two nights minimum to make that trip. Next time I go up to Donegal, I’ll visit the spa at Shandon, which looked amazing but was booked solid for the holiday weekend when we visited. The Glenveagh National Park and Castle were quite enjoyable. I’ve included a few pictures of Glenveagh on this blog post–taken late in the day on Halloween.

By the way, most tour guides here in Ireland are required to study and pass rigorous tests, so they really do know their stuff!

Abuzz on Bolton Street

These are busy days here at Dublin Institute of Technology, full of new experiences. It’s been a long while since I posted a blog, but I’m happy to report that — coming off a two-year stint as a visiting researcher — I’ve settled into my new permanent job as:

(Yes, the Europeans do like to list all theie credentials after their names… a bit cluttered… but, ah, as my colleague Una says, all those annual dues paid to licensing organizations might as well get you a spiffy signature….)
I’m actually teaching first year engineering classes now. I’ve attached photos from this afternoon in the engineering classes at Bolton Street DIT. This particular afternoon, I was officially teaching the bridge design/build class for Level 8 engineering students, but I also popped in to see how things were going in several other labs (Level 7 Energy Cube who also had built bridges today, and Level 8 Energy Cube).
I’d spent the morning in the architecture studio, as a guest reviewer for a third-year design “crit” where the students were presenting their designs for primary schools on sites in Kilkenny – one of my favorite Irish cities. Unfortunately, I didn’t take photos… though I did see some very nice designs. Several international students (from Switzerland and Russia) presented their work alongside Irish students.
I’m loving the challenges that come with teaching new subjects, and also the chance to be a regular visitor to the architecture studios once again.

This past Saturday, the RoboSlam founders — Damon, Ted, Frank, and Shannon — travelled to “sunny southeast Ireland” to deliver a RoboSlam for 18 students (ages 7-14) in Enniscorthy, County Wexford. Many thanks to the local sponsor Taoglas and to the parents who stuck around to help. Extra special thanks for helping organize and host the event go out to John O’Connor at the Enniscorthy Enterprise & Technology Centre, the CoderDojo mentor Sam, and Charlie Pritchard. Thanks to Edith Pritchard for a delicious follow-up dinner.

We’re pleased to report that 18 functioning robots left for happy new homes at the end of the day. The new robot design uses an Arduino Nano, which is very easy for people to continue coding and re-coding at home, after the formal workshop concludes. Frank Duignan came up with dual sensor design he calls “Two Eyes” and uploaded the newest code to out RoboSlam blog.

I’ve posted a couple photos silly selfies below. More photos are available on the RoboSlam blog. I worked up such an appetite that the hotel brought me two full breakfasts the next morning, as captured by Frank’s stealthy camera phone.

Thanks to everyone there for a fun and successful event!

Our students did an amazing job leading this robotics workshop for teens!

RoboSlam

For this month’s big RoboSlam event–provided to students from more than three Dublin schools as part of Engineer’s Week–our volunteer staff team did something a little different. We recruited some of the most energetic electrical and electronics engineering students form DIT and then, on Friday and Monday, we gave them training on how to lead a RoboSlam workshop.

When Tuesday morning came along, our engineering students were in top form. They led the robot-building and coding workshop for 37 secondary school students, and they did it with amazingly little help from their engineering teachers.

DIT student facilitators The heroes of the day: DIT’s RoboSlam student facilitators with robotics gurus Ted Burke and Damon Berry (the two in the RoboSlam t-shirts)

Things went so well, in fact, that the secondary school students were far ahead of schedule when they broke for lunch. So the student facilitators stayed behind and worked with Ted to hatch a plan for new coding challenges that…

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Our RoboSlam facilitators team has been growing this semester as we have been recruiting and training people to conduct their own RoboSlam robot-building workshops.

As it turns out, we also have also recruited a RoboSlam ambassador! Ten-year-old Luke Buckley, who I first met at ResearchNightDublin, attended a workshop on how to assemble robot circuitry that we held during Science Week. He rebuilt his robot on his very own, at home, and then brought his robot to school to show his classmates. He demonstrated how it worked and how to put it together.

The RoboSlam should get Luke into a programming workshop very soon (and then, who knows, maybe a facilitator training session, too). With enthusiasm like his, the sky’s the limit!

Here’s a note his mom sent to let us know about his experience. We love to receive followup stories from our participants–if you have any more, please email them on! We’re just a click away.

Dear Shannon,

I just wanted to say a big thank you for the RoboSlam workshop that my son, Luke attended. He asked me to say thank you from him too.

Just to give you some feedback on the outcome of your RoboSlam outreach activity, I thought that you might be interested to hear that Luke was able to disassemble and rebuild the robot on his own afterwards without any difficulty.  He also brought it into school (Glasnevin Educate Together National School) where he gave a demonstration to his class (31 pupils aged 10-11). Apparently the robot behaved perfectly during the demo and generated plenty of interest!

Many thanks again,

Niamh

Luke's robot

Luke O’Dowd at home, perfecting his robot design and testing it with an arena he built for himself. This robot is programmed to detect the change in color from black to white and to follow the line.

Micheál’s Sterling Engine

My colleague, Micheál O’Flaherty, brought into class today the little Sterling Engine he has made. This technology is in the early stages of being developed for home heating, to potentially replace the boiler in your home, Micheál says.  You can learn how to make one of your own on YouTube.

It was such good craic! (The Irish sort!)

STEMettes panorama IMG_8431Because it’s Science Week here in Ireland, I had hurried back from a conference in was attending at the University of Oxford (the UK-Ireland EER Network, for engineering education research). I thoroughly enjoyed the trip (which was my first visit to Cambridge) and reuniting with colleagues similarly dedicated to engineering education research.

The old part of Cambridge--lovely in the autumn!

The old part of Cambridge–lovely in the autumn!

Nevertheless, it was well worth the scurry home, because I’d been invited to speak at a STEMettes networking event (see their blog). STEMettes events are energizing and invigorating and I always enjoy the chance to share stories and ideas with curiousity-driven people. For me, meeting the STEMettes kicked off a week of special Science Week events. So, while my engineering colleagues were busy assembling robot kits for the upcoming week, I was out meeting girls who share my interest  in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

Diversely skilled panelists of all ages graced the main stage at STEMettes, providing advice and sharing vivid stories of their paths to fascinating STEM careers. Here, I had the chance to meet and network with well-established experts, talented BoA employees, and up-and-coming young scientists.

STEMettes is a London-based organization encouraging girls to make, code, and create innovative businesses. Many of the dedicated and talented girls I met back in August–at the STEMEttes Outbox Incubator in London–were among the 45 or so assembled at the Bank ofAmerica  Merill Lynch HQ last Saturday, on the outskirts of Dublin. Another similar event was being run simultaneously in London. I met the director of STEMettes at Insiprefest in Dublin this past summer.

STEMettes 2In the coming week my friends and I will conduct two RoboSlam workshops in Dun Laougharie and a day-long event at the Cashel Arts Festival. At our recent Tech Week RoboSlam, 15 secondary school students walked away with their own assembled and fully-functioning robots.

I’ve posted photos from Cambridge and the UK-I EER network conference in the gallery below.

Cecilia Hartsell History presentation at Collins Barracks 1

Cecilia Hartsell researches WWI history. She is discovering parallels in the challenges Irish soldiers and African-Anericans soldiers faced when returning to their homes following the war. 

She presented research at an event at Collins Barracks in Dublin. The event was hosted by a history MeetUp group and 24 people attended on a recent Sunday afternoon. This is part of the dissertation research Cecilia is undertaking to earn a PhD from Fordam University. She will present the talk again, as part of History Week in Dublin:

Thursday, the 8th of October, 7-8 pm at Rathmines Library. 

Cecilia has also just published her first academic article, in History Now (an online journal at the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History). Check it out at the link below:

https://www.gilderlehrman.org/history-by-era/world-war-ii/essays/race-and-good-war-oral-history-interview-with-calvin-d-cosby-WWII

Discover Research Dublin - Marie Curie exhibits - Shannon Chance 1

Projects by Marie Sklodowska-Curie Research Fellows on display at Discover Research Dublin Night 2015 at Trinity College Dublin.

Trinity’s campus glowed orange Friday night to celebrate the diverse and amazing research being conducted today in Dublin. I had been invited by the Irish Universities Association to show off some of the work I’m doing as a Marie Sklodowska-Curie Research Fellow. My base of operations is Dublin Institute of Technology, but this event featured research being conducted all across Ireland. 

Everywhere on Trinity’s campus researchers displayed their work, emphasizing aspects that would engage and appeal tot he general public. I prepared a digital presentation on Engineering the Future: Equipping Engineers with Design Thinking that briefly described the three areas where I’m focusing my time as a Marie Curie International Incoming Fellow under the European Commission’s FP7 program:

  1. RESEARCH on Women’s Experiences of Collaborative Learning in Engineering
  2. TRANSFER OF KNOWLEDGE by developing a Masters degree program to teach engineering teachers about teaching
  3. OUTREACH through RoboSlam Robot-Building Workshop

I decided to featured my DIT colleagues’ research on robotics and our work on how to best teach robotics to kids and to college students. I brought along two of our autonomous robots and let visitors to my booth run their own Sumo matches. About 25 people visited my table. There were all interested in learning about how the robots differed in design and code. One had better “eye sight” (as in, a better quality distance sensor) but the other had better coding. As a result, they were fairly well match for the Sumo competition, but the one with better coding consistently won.

Most visitors to the booth had specific questions about my work, and I was able to discuss details of various research studies and publications because I had my laptop there, and was able to access and display three different Prezi files.

I also got to discover the fascinating research being done by other Marie Sklodowska-Curie Research Fellows in Ireland. I’ve pictured just a few in the photo gallery below. Leaving Trinity’s campus, I discovered many cultural events on as well, such as the concert being hosted in Trinity’s chapel.

I found that I had been in just one tiny little corridor–among dozens of research labs and hundreds of research projects on display–at DiscoverResearchDublin Night 2015. Imagine the power house of research going on here, on this tiny little island in the North Atlantic!

If you’re in Dublin Saturday, drop by our RoboSlam Robot Cafe and build your own bot.

RoboSlam

Ted's robot design for Dublin Maker event on Saturday at Trinity College Dublin. Come build one for free! And, it's just 12 Euro (less than the cost to us) if you want to take it home with you. Ted’s robot design for Dublin Maker event on Saturday at Trinity College Dublin. Come build one for free! And, it’s just 12 Euro (less than the cost to us) if you want to take it home with you.

Hello RoboSlammers,

This is just a quick reminder – it is only two days now to Saturday’s big event – Dublin Maker! The weather forecast is looking good so far – “cool and dry with scattered showers” according to met.ie. The event will open at 10am and run until 6pm. It tends to get busy at around midday. A description of some of the main participants at Dublin Maker 2015 is available here. Personally, we can’t wait to see what mechanical wonders Michal Mizsta the “dragon dude”, will have on show this year. And there is an interesting range of exhibits.

Shannon, Damon, Frank, and Ted getting ready today for the RoboSlam Cafe. Shannon, Damon, Frank, and Ted getting ready today…

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