Minister Mitchell O’Connor launches national Problem-Solving Initiative

Pictured with Mary Mitchell O’Connor are Alex Harding (Maynooth Post-Primary), Finn Corcoran and Juliette Kodia of Rush and Lusk
On 7th November 2017 Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, TD, launched a major nationwide initiative aimed at fostering the next generation of skilled problem solvers for Ireland. The Problem-Solving Initiative (PSI) will encourage Irish youngsters to hone their lateral-thinking skills, and will create enthusiasm within the Irish public for problem-solving by engaging people directly with mind-bending puzzles and challenges. It will also promote career pathways in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) for those who enjoy solving problems. The two-year initiative is delivered by the ADAPT Centre for Digital Content Technology, and funded by Science Foundation Ireland (SFI).
 
Speaking about the initiative, ADAPT Director Professor Vincent Wade said: "Creative problem-solving and lateral thinking is at the heart of STEM. The PSI will empower the youth of Ireland to hone these transferable skills, which are a critical requirement for the future leaders in STEM fields. It will also raise public awareness of the importance of problem-solving skills across science, the economy and society."
 
The programme of events will include expansion of the ADAPT Centre’s highly-successful All Ireland Linguistics Olympiad (AILO). AILO challenges secondary school students to develop their own problem-solving strategies to decode the world’s toughest puzzles in language, logic and linguistics. The contest, which has attracted 14,000 participants to date, aims to discover Ireland’s top young problem solver. Schools can register now at www.adaptcentre.ie/ailo
 

Welcoming the Problem Solving Initiative, Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, TD, said: “I would like to congratulate Team Ireland on their recent success at the 2016 International Linguistics Olympiad, and would encourage all schools to take part in this wonderful Problem Solving Initiative run by the ADAPT Research Centre.  I am keen to raise people’s awareness of the importance of problem solving skills across science, the economy and society as a whole and I would also like to invite people of all ages to try out the various brain teasers to hone their problem solving skills; skills that are at the very heart of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths advancement in our world.”

Minster of State for Training, Skills and Innovation, John Halligan said: “The Problem Solving Initiative builds on the success of ADAPT’s AILO Competition which encourages secondary school students to perfect their analytical skills. Problem solving skills are crucial not only for STEM related careers but across society. The Problem Solving Initiative provides the opportunity to develop analytical skills in a fun engaging way. I strongly encourage everyone to put their skills to the test and challenge your friends and colleagues to try the brain teasers.”

Other key elements of the Problem-Solving Initiative include:
 
  • Problem-solving workshops at public festival events during Science Week, 13th to 20th November 2016.
  • The International Linguistics Olympiad 2017, which will see the top 180 problem solvers from more than 30 countries compete at Dublin City University from 31st July to 4th August 2017.
  • Problem-solving puzzle packs for primary schools.
  • A family Problem-Solving Festival in Dublin Castle on 5th August 2017.
  • Mind-bending puzzles available to the public through www.problemsolving.ie and via social media.

The impact of the initiative is already reflected in the strong performance of Team Ireland at the International Linguistics Olympiad 2016 in Mysore, India in July 2016. Claire O’Connor (17) from St. Louis High School, Rathmines beat 180 contestants from 30 countries to secure a bronze medal. Dónal Farren (17) of St Eunan’s College, Letterkenny and Pádraig Sheehy (16) of Gonzaga College, Ranelagh won Honourable Mention awards.

Speaking about her experience student Claire O’Connor said: “Since taking part in AILO and IOL I’ve learned that keeping an open mind and trusting your instincts prevents you from ruling out valuable ideas that may seem implausible at first. I now know not to always keep my focus linear when faced with problems“.
 
Secondary school students are encouraged to sign up for the All Ireland Linguistics Olympiad 2017 now at www.adaptcentre.ie/ailo 
 

Find out more by viewing the Problem-Solving Initiative Video.