DCU partnered with Lego® Education to create the flagship Lego® Education Innovation Studio (LEIS) learning hub that helps DCU student teachers and Irish schools develop innovative and creative approaches to teaching STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Maths) subjects in the classroom and help students develop ‘Hands-on Minds-on’ 21st Century skills such as creative thinking, problem-solving, team-working and communication. The DCU Ryan Academy for Entrepreneurs’ mission is to “promote and accelerate early-stage entrepreneurship in Ireland”.

The DCU Entrepreneurship, Creativity & Innovation Summer Camp for Second Level Students ran from 28 May 2018 – 01 June 2018. It was held in the Lego Education Innovation Studio in DCU’s St. Patrick’s Campus, Drumcondra. 25 participants, having completed their transition year, were recruited from 13 different schools from Dublin’s north side.

As an internal DCU collaboration, the DCU Ryan Academy and LEIS joint Summer Camp suitably complimented the missions and subject-area competencies of both partner organisations.

The Summer Camp structure was developed to simulate the challenges of starting a business around an innovative product.

Students are able to navigate the intricacies of working in a team towards a goal while completing individual tasks based on their strengths. The students will be encouraged to consider the value proposition of their product and how to find their target market. They learn about logistical details of starting a company including obtaining patents, supply chain management, pricing structure, marketing plans, and more. By referring back to the business model canvas, the students are able to synthesize the complexities of establishing their business in accordance with their goals for the future. The students can blend their forward thinking mind-sets and practical thinking to compose a pitch to investors. By presenting in front of a panel, the students have to make efficient use of their time by highlighting the value of their product and backing it up with research and knowledge obtained during the course.

The Lego Education Innovation Studio is the perfect complement to this programme as it enabled the students to think about the innovative ways in which technology is changing the future of business.

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Participants are divided into teams of approximately five people each and tasked during the week to learn from their entrepreneurial and innovation tutorial sessions and to work in their teams to develop individual ‘minimal viable product’ prototypes around which the teams constructed a business plan.   The product prototypes will be based on five ‘LEGO Mindstorms EV3’ projects:

1)    Gyro Boy, essentially a Segway that operates in a similar fashion using a variety of sensors that enable it to stay upright

2)    Colour Sorter, which replicates scanning and sorting as an example of automated product sorting

3)    Robotic Arm, replicates the use of robotic arms used in the manufacturing industry

4)    Robotic Dog, and example of how robotics can be used in the toy industry

5)    Stair Climber, which is an example of how autonomous vehicles can be used for navigating obstacles

The 2019 programme is scheduled for 27-31 May