Coding to improve my neighborhood

Author: Álvaro Molina

This STEM activity has been designed in order to contextualize the use of mathematics and statistics to understand the needs in our daily life at the same time the students learn to code and they code to learn how to improve their local environment. Using the microcontroller micro:bit, the work is focused on improving the bike lane next to our school. In several sections, a road crosses the lane in a poor visibility area for cars. The students have made a model to propose a regulated bike lane with sensors that prevent cars and bicycles from another vehicle is approaching. In addition, a micro:bit has been used to count the number of bicycles that pass through this site in order to promote the use of this sustainable transport.

In order to contextualize the project, a series of surveys have been carried out to other students who live in the area to find out if the initiative serves to improve our environment. The population included in the statistic analysis are between 12 and 17 years old. The students involved in the project are between 12 and 13 years during 8 sessions, from January 24th to February 13th.

The methodology used in this project has been an inquiry-based learning level II, a structured inquiry: the teacher provides the initial question and an outline of the procedure. They have been able to develop an educational experience in the STEM field to give solutions to a need of society. They are the precursors of a necessary change and those who have designed a possible solution, improving their city, their quality of life and giving a solution to the needs of their local environment.

Tasks defined to develop the project

  • Survey design and model design: the students decide the questions they are going to include in the survey and how they are going to make the model.
  • Coding micro:bit: students work on several activities designed to learn the neccesary components to complete the signaling of the bike lane: led panel, radio comunication and use of pins.
  • Analyzing the data: this task is designed to write in percentage the results obtained for each of the survey questions. With these results, they make a graphical representation using pie charts and bar graphs.
  • Making the model: Students build a model of the bike lane including the micro:bit controllers, additional Kitronik material and different decorative elements.
Making the model
  • Explanation and dissemination: the students record a video explaining the project with their model in order to show their proposal to improve the bike lane. They also write a formal letter to to local society to share with their proposal.
Video explanation micro:bit – IESBI Spain

As a final result of the project, three products are obtained: a model, a video and a formal letter.

When an educational project like this one is designed to develop an innovative practice, it is important to make the students work the contents in an active way at the same time they understand how it can be relevant to solve everyday situations. So I would like to highlight the approach to the use of statistical analysis of survey data to understand and give solutions to a population’s needs. There is also important the inclusion of technological materials to propose this solution and the inclusion of computational thinking coding with micro:bit.

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