Three Irish students from Cork are set for Washington following the success of their Irish language game 'Focail Iontachta'.
The three girls will represent Ireland at the Global Student Entrepreneur Awards (GSEA) in Washington DC with their card game which uses Irish to promote literacy and numeracy.
The GSEA is a global competition for secondary and college students who own and operate businesses and the girls are the only all-female team.
One of the girls Alex Whelan, a final year student in Regina Mundi College in Douglas, Co. Cork, spoke to Irish Central about the game and how it came about.
"Our teacher wanted to enter everyone into a competition where students competed for a chance to appear on a TV show called 'Dragons' Den' ['Shark Tank'] with their product".
Whelan says the project was born during the girls' transition year, when their Business teacher encouraged them to create a product for entry into a television show called 'Dragons' Den: Shark Tank'.
“We brainstormed lots of ideas and decided to go with Focail Iontacha because government reports (such as Ref. Pisa Reports 2009) had shown disappointing scores in literacy and numeracy in Irish Students".
Irish Central reports:
"The game involves the outwitting of opponents to be the first to use all of the cards you are dealt to make Irish word/words. The numeracy element comes from the score calculation as each player adds up the values displayed on the cards they used in each round".
"We made our first prototype ourselves", Alex told Irish Central, "(but) by the time we appeared on 'Dragon’s Den' the game was a little more professional looking".
The girls won a $2,140 bursary from "Dragon’s Den" to develop the idea and recently secured a deal with Eason's to stock the game.
The enterprise was awarded a $2,140 bursary from "Dragon’s Den" to develop the idea and has gone from strength to strength since, securing a deal with Irish bookshop chain Eason’s last year to stock the game.
“Ultimately, we would obviously like to walk away with one of the cash prizes and the opportunities that come with it, but we're delighted to get the exposure offered by the competition regardless of the outcome.”