Author: Theodora S. Tziampazi
Hello everyone! I am a primary school teacher and this is the second year I participate in the STEM Discovery Campaign, after becoming a huge fan of block-based programming in 2019!
The time management of this school year allowed for the implementation of a few activities aiming at expanding my students’ previous experience in Scratch and reveal the magic of making and sharing authentic material. My 6th graders had already been engaged in some Scratch projects last year in ICT lessons and I decided to build upon their knowledge and to organize some workshops in the context of thematic days, campaigns, contests and a trip.
This post is about a couple of activities which took place in February – March, 2020.
A clip: The first project was an animation designed to be integrated into a video clip. The context was a song competition held by European School Radio. After our song was recorded and edited under the coordination of our music teacher, it was time to proceed to a visualization. Our video clip had a part (1:40-1:59) made using Scratch.
Two figures say the English version of the chorus and their expressions and background images change accordingly. While coding, we faced challenges in timing issues (synchronizing lyrics with the tempo of the song) and visual effects (brightness) in transitions between backgrounds. All students attached and detached blocks and gave ideas. This part was the outcome of our cooperation with the English teacher of our school. More information about the lesson plan and the contributors can be found in the description of the video. Our participation in the song contest is one of the activities of a learning scenario titled Radio Stories which is about to be published in Teaching With Europeana blog.
To me, it is of great importance the fact that our collaborative project was contextualized and disseminated. Our team presented coding as a new expressive mode to make meaning. In that sense and to recap with a pinch of Computational Thinking terminology suggested in the curriculum developed for Scratch, the project underlined the importance of what is described as “Computational Perspectives” (see here).
As a teacher, I am very happy to adopt and promote these computational perspectives which make me feel an active member of a large educational community. I believe that students, following my lead, feel the same. This is where the national events “meet” the European campaigns and where the ‘computational’ meets the ‘creative’.
A trip: The second event was held in February, when our class had a STEM educational trip. We visited a robotics lab to have a special introductory lesson in robotics. We got a gist of how coding is connected with building a robot while discovering a different block-based interface (Lego Mindstorms). The 5th graders of our school were inspired by our trip and they also visited that space accompanied by their teachers.
All in all, our class spread the word of new STEM experiences over the school community…I hope there will be more to code and share next year!
There is also another activity which happened when a national school event “met” the EU Code Week, in 2019. The 6th Panhellenic School Athletics Day, organized by the Greek Ministry of Education, was celebrated in all schools. This year’s slogan was “I love athletics, I love my health”, so it was a thematic day full of sports activities and educational material promoting healthy habits.
The contribution of our class was a game where the player should put the food in the right zone of a nutrition pyramid. The design of the game was an opportunity to remember the rules of balanced nutrition and to explore the variables, operators, and sensing blocks. Our project was published in EU Code Week site and in our school’s Facebook page, where lots of parents and other people played and liked the innovative game.
What is more, we had a visit from the teacher and the students of the 2nd grade of the school in our class to familiarize the younger kids with the process of creating a game. We invited them to play along with us and our students uncovered the “making of” the game.
There are many opportunities to integrate …STEM bites into your school menu. Just try it alone or with a little help from your STEM-friendly colleagues. You may like the taste… 😉