STEM WEEKEND

Author: Merve Ozer

On February 15th, 2020, the programming with BBC micro:bit workshop was held in Taurus Mall which is in Ankara, Turkey. The workshop started at 2 pm and finished at 6 pm in the same day. The main objective was to help students be able to get more information about Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and to create awareness between those students. The event was free of charge.

There were 5 main sessions of the workshop, which can be seen in Figure 1, and all these sessions lasted 40 minutes each. By giving more priorities to female students in terms of attendance, their participation was maximized. The number of female students was 55 while there were 45 male students, making a total number of students in the event 100. The age group of the students: between 8 and 14 years old. Before attending the workshop, all students filled out an attendance form. Scientix ambassador SYA was also involved in the workshop as a volunteer co-teacher.

Figure 1. Sessions of the STEM Workshop held in Ankara, Taurus Mall on 15 February, 2020

As previously stated, the main objective was to raise awareness among young age students and, with the help of IT, to provide them with a quality time event. For this reason, a weekend day and a crowded place were chosen to increase their participation. We had planned and designed a student-friendly environment where they could have fun and learn at the same time. The workshop was announced via social media, visuals, and etc. some days before. The students were able to meet new friends and learn programming while having all fun.

The sessions were planned based on students’ preferences, their ages and backgrounds were not taken into account when creating groups among them. Thus, they met older new friends and spent their time in a different social environment than they used to have. There are 9 other students who voluntarily participated in the organization of the event with different tasks.

The place for the workshop selected was the common area of the mall because our event could easily be noticed in such a place. Therefore, participation was very high as expected. In addition to young people, their parents, friends, relatives and etc. could get some idea about programming and STEM.

Physical setup was done with stand areas where all computers and microbits were placed. Each student learned programming and STEM by practicing them.

First, BBC micro:bit cards were introduced to the audience. Students practised tasks from easy level to more complicated ones with these BBC micro:bit cards to help them notice what they are learning. After this introduction, LEDs on these cards were introduced to the same audience. Practical tasks of this step were:

  • Writing names with LEDs,
  • Creating symbols,
  • Programming with numbers.

The students were able to write names, create symbols and make algebraic calculations with these applications by pushing some buttons.

Also, sensors on these cards were introduced, especially acceleration sensor and its applications were explained in detail. North, South, East and West concepts were explained with these acceleration sensors.

A group of those being under 8 years old was also created during the event because our aim was to reach all young people in the community helping them understand STEM. They experienced a different type of applications, they tried to form different shapes with kinetic sands. These shapes were selected to help them understand the nature and geometry. In the end, they could create their tree-like shapes and geometric shapes.

Another group was created by pre-school children of different ages. They also learnt programming with coding Doc-Robot. They could learn Right, Left, Forward, Backward concepts doing Doc-Robot practical tasks.

At the end of the workshop, feedback from all the students and their parents were was collected. Each student and parent told that they were very happy about this kind of event and they emphasized that these kinds of workshops should continuously be organized and be announced more in every city of the country.

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