T(I)ME TO EU(S)TEAM
THE CURRENT CONTEXT
Our society is constantly changing as a result of the progress of Science and Technology. The transition to high technology is done at an extremely fast pace. Our way of learning or having fun, playing sports or traveling has changed. We can choose the way we shape our mentality, but the way we educate our children must change. Many existing jobs are disappearing and at the same time, there are other jobs that need new skills – STEAM skills. These are a “passport to a better future”. The demand of employers for such a workforce is stringent, high, and continues to grow. We are looking for those who can adapt quickly to all these changes and can successfully face the challenges.
THE CHANGE – STEM EDUCATION
For us, the change has started with the STEAM Education approach. That is the chance we offer children to simulate their future, to prepare for it. It`s time to find the best solution to combine ”the useful” with ”the pleasant”, to help as many children as possible acquire the necessary skills. We felt amazed and motivated by all the opportunities that this type of education brings. Therefore, we will not let the interest and curiosity of children in the use of technology die out. We want to show them that learning can continue even in unforeseen situations – such as those of the last year.
THE SECRETS OF SUCCESS
Everyone understood that we must always find solutions for students to prepare according to the times they live in, connecting them to their future which will be better if they are educated in this way, developing their Communication, Collaboration, Creativity, Critical thinking skills. In addition to these, essential for quality education are the teacher’s passion for the discipline they teach and their love for the children they educate. This is the type of teacher who can capture children’s attention, motivate and inspire them.
We have been enjoying the opportunities offered by the STEM Discovery Campaign this year as well, but also the webinars, courses organized by European Schoolnet, because there are ways to upgrade the way we approach teaching assessment. We learn and pass it on to the student.
Who we are?
I have developed in class, in the past 2 years, Robotics and Space Sciences as an optional for the little ones. We are ”Little Engineers” class(10-11 yrs). I have always been trying to find out what they thought about these activities, to discover their interests and passions to continue learning. When I read the feedback, I understood that these interesting activities are excellent opportunities to promote the development of a healthy and innovative mentality, to socialize and cooperate by training them by valuing their positive character traits, helping them to adapt and integrate.
By showing that I care about them, engaging them in activities that interest them, I motivated the students to want to learn more. That’s how they got involved in their own learning. We encouraged their natural curiosity about the world around them, stimulating their desire to discover, their ability to understand, their power to think. This increases their chances of adaptation.
OBJECTIVES OF THE ACTIVITIES THAT LEAD TO THE TRAINING OF STEAM COMPETENCIES:
– by engaging in interactive activities, learning how scientists solve problems using the scientific method. Children need to learn how to observe, collect data and get involved in a scientific project.
– by learning programming, acquiring the skills needed to solve problems, participating in interactive activities of computational thinking
– by discovering new ways to solve the challenges of today’s society, which involves participating in “hands-on design” activities and training technical skills to help them in life (achieving things that benefit society). Engineers are the creators of everything from biology to computer programming. Engineers make the world a better place.
– by making the connection between art and technology integrating programming, analysis and design, construction, and medicine with electronics, robots, and machines of the future.
– by developing calculus-based thinking, focusing on problem-solving, applying real-life solutions, challenging students to make logical connections between causes and effects, practicing thinking about understanding, and making complex choices.
REQUIREMENTS – PARTNERSHIPS
For us, it is an extraordinary chance to organize these STEAM activities that are part of the times we live in. A teacher must prepare his students for the future, to allow them to train their necessary skills, to value their potential. The teacher is one of the main role models for students. With the activities we carried out, we registered for various regional, national, and international competitions, often managing to obtain very good results that brought us sponsorships – materials necessary for the good development of the activities. This year, TME Education joined us to offer us electronics and robotics kits, giving children great joy. They are giving them the chance to put what they learn into practice.
I teamed up with my colleague and husband – a music teacher, very passionate about electronics, but also with principals, parents, other educational partners – who came to tell us about their passion for Science, helping us carry out these activities. We made a plan, according to the proposed goal, we set the objectives, we prepared our materials and in February 2021, we were ready to start.
THE WORLD OF ROBOTICS
The world of robotics is fantastic and very attractive for children. Here, they enter with pleasure and learn with interest about the Science that designs, builds, controls, and operates robots. We remembered that at first, they only knew them from SF stories about robots, then we saw them in STAR WARS and now they have become a reality, we meet them everywhere. In our house, they help us wash, clean or cook, and even to cut the grass in the yard !! And it’s not just that.
THE PURPOSE OF ROBOTS
They help doctors in the investigations they do but also help them perform difficult operations. Robots also fly and guide pilots, sail with sailors, build cars, and all kinds of construction or fight in dangerous areas. Also, they accompany musicians, connect people, ignite our imagination and give life to ideas. Robots now do all sorts of things: from the smallest components of a computer to rockets exploring outer space or the depths of the seas. How can you not want to know more, to do more ?!
THE CREATION PROCESS
To be able to create a robot you need STEAM skills. To create it, specialists from different fields – inventors, builders, artists, engineers… study the world around them, observe, experiment, create, analyze, test. We designed and thought about our activities in the same engineering manner.
MATERIALS AND SUPPORT
This year, starting with month of February, once we return to school, we also started activities within SDC 2021, encouraged by all the initiatives of European Schoolnet and the slogan of the “Sustainability and Citizenship” campaign. We were helped by the kits received following a sponsorship from our partners at TME Education. They appreciated our previous activities and wanted to support us to continue learning. TME Education wants to create its own educational kits that facilitate the first steps, as well as the continuation of the road in the field of electronics. To the joy of the children, we used the received materials in activities.
We can’t wait to discover the next TME educational kit based on the Arduino board, which allows you to get started in Arduino Uno.
ECHO MEETINGS I- The painter – The 8 of February 2021
STEM OR STEAM?
STEAM is a new approach to the STEM philosophy that recognizes the value of the arts both in the harmonious development of the individual and of the human society. So our first guest, on the Zoom platform, was the painter Daniel Zlota.
From him, our class received a package from sunny Spain. We first met him last year and took our first online painting lessons. We were trying to guess what’s inside. There were all kinds of answers: from toys, sweets, robotics kits, VR glasses, painting tools … and then a weak voice said “a picture”. Evrika !! The painting was accompanied by good thoughts and wishes. We were very happy and grateful. We visited with him the personal workshop and the virtual exhibition https://danielzlota.com/ and we looked with admiration at the beautiful paintings that are part of famous international collections. Then we wrote a text about a painting that fascinated us. Each child tried to write the story behind the painting. We read our texts to the painter, to see if anyone managed to get closer to the truth…
THOUGHTS FROM A FRIEND
The meeting with the painter Daniel Zlota came at the right time to help us in our development. Children are in great need of real models to inspire them, to motivate them, to determine them to build great dreams. He taught us important life lessons from his personal experience: “Success is a sum of failures that you try to overcome by working,” he told us. We understood that if you want to do something and you don’t succeed, it’s just a passing thing, maybe it’s just that you haven’t studied and worked hard enough yet. People with a winning attitude do not give up and fight for what they want. Everything is in our power. And another very important thing we remembered is that passion is one of the secrets of successful people. Only when you like what you do will you be able to reach your true potential.
ECHO MEETINGS I I – The robotic specialist –The 17 of February 2021
To arouse their interest, we scheduled an amazing meeting on Zoom with the “Mother of Robots” – Ana-Maria Stancu, the founder of an extraordinary project – ROBOHUB, because we want to know many things about robot construction and function. She managed to find a solution, in these difficult times, to come to the aid of medical staff and prepared robots with UVC light that can enter contaminated and semi-contaminated spaces to inactivate viruses and bacteria. https://youtu.be/vuaa04x2zTU.
ROBOTS – OUR FRIENDS
We understand that robots are our friends because they FEEL (collect data about what is happening around them) – THINK (how to use the information to take the next step) -ACT (do something influencing the world around them). “She welcomed us” at ROBOHUB as well. After introducing us to the beautifully arranged space that also represents the “robot house”, she introduced us to the younger brothers of ESCU – whom we already knew from other science and technology workshops in which we had participated – of robots designed for educational purposes, to familiarize children with the basic principles of programming, stimulating the development of logical thinking, creativity.
LET`S MEET ROBOTS
One by one, the biggest ones appeared: Alpha – the robot who amused them and encouraged them to do sports, Elena and Amelia – the kind robot girls, who can work in restaurants to serve the pretentious customers and, of course, the famous ESCU- the most evolved of them- who was already our friend. He was applauded many times on the open stage for his convincing answers, which were also full of sensitivity. Truly, he has an unmistakable charm and knows how to answer the rain of questions from the children. If the more elaborate answers were well documented on Wikipedia or Google, we don’t know where some of them came from…
EMOTIONAL MOMENT WITH ESCU
The most emotional moment was when they received the answer to the question “Who do you love, ESCU?” – “I love all people!” and two hearts appeared in his eyes. I found out what the role of the “red button” is and how you can stop something unpleasant from happening, that he is polyglot, that he loves all colors… Time has passed unnoticed and, full of optimism and joy, we said goodbye to our hosts.
ECHO MEETINGS III- The succes man – The 26 of February 2021, On Zoom platform
To be a good STEAM specialist, you need a person with a harmonious personality, who shows the strength of character, courage, and self-control, good connoisseurs of oneself, involved in all kinds of activities and projects, and with good scientific training. We met on Zoom with Cătălin Stoica, who has a success story -due to his experience as a trainer, writer, TV manager.
THE JOURNEY– World of the Self
We had been ready for a long time to embark on a journey into the miraculous world of the Self. Children have grown up and needed encouragement, advice, motivational stories, but also reasons for joy and optimism. We wanted to get to understand ourselves more easily, in order to better relate to others. In an atmosphere of intense emotion, with a lot of mastery, Cătălin took us through the “Land of Happiness”, opening the windows of our mind, but especially the gates of the heart.
WE LEARNED MORE
He taught us recipes of happiness, of a fulfilled life – which do not lack LOVE, FORGIVENESS, PERSEVERANCE, TRUST, GENEROSITY, RESPECT… but also how to work to build a bright future or how to form a successful mentality, going through and over failures and taking it over and over again. In this way, they found out for themselves what delights them, what inspires and motivates them, what matters to them, but also to others. It was worthwhile to join hands to help them discover the important aspects that define them. They are more focused on the present and need models. We now know that happiness foretells and precedes a life full of accomplishments. We could apply what we learned in our activities.
THE WORLD OF ELECTRONICS
– weekly 3.04- 28.04. 2021, on Wednesday,
– face-to-face meetings and on the Zoom platform
Weekly, throughout this period of the STEM 2021 Campaign, we organized various STEAM activities aimed at the field of electronics, robotics, 3D printing. The introduction of electronics in the fascinating world has been long-awaited. It is the first step in exploring and understanding the Sciences. Today it is present in all areas of human activity. From the ordinary light bulb that dissipates our darkness to the mobile phone and laptop that we can no longer part with.
THE PURPOSE OF THESE COURSE
The purpose of these activities (and mine of course) is to help young school children understand electronics easily. Many believe that to learn electronics you have to be super smart, an adult and know math and physics at a higher level. The students found that it is possible to learn electronics easily at any age. I made sure in every lesson that this course is understandable to children. Electronics can be explained in an intelligible way, with a language simpler than that used in specialized books. I tried to use language appropriate for the children’s understanding, using comparisons or demonstrations from their known universe whenever necessary.
https://youtu.be/o94SkJ4SJVQ- The Electrotechnist Engineer
ELECTRICITY – ENERGY SOURCES
The first lessons focused on children’s understanding of the behavior and control of electrons and conductive media through which electricity flows. Then I presented and demonstrated how electricity sources work, those that “animate” electrons in all electronic circuits (experiments with lemons, apples,…)
We sparked a discussion about the importance of fruits and vegetables in everyday life, even in different areas. In the introductory activity, we studied their composition. Then followed a short session of questions and answers about electricity, how we can get it, what are its uses, and we will discover the similarities between how batteries and accumulators work and their equivalence in nature.
FRUITS AND VEGETABLES – NATURE ENERGY SOURCES
By using different fruits and vegetables, the children made sources of direct current similar to batteries and operating on their principle. In addition to fruits and vegetables (apples, lemons, potatoes, onions), they also used two different conductive materials (Cu and Zn) as electrodes. They inserted a piece of copper wire and a galvanized nail (Cu plates and galvanized sheet) in the opposite parts of the fruit, thus obtaining the positive element Cu and the negative element Zn for the energy source. They were careful not to connect (touch) the Cu and Zn plates (inside or outside the fruit) so as not to produce a short circuit.
Due to the acidic or saline environment of fruits or vegetables, the electrons on the Zn plate will migrate on the Cu plate, thus producing a potential difference between the 2 electrodes, a difference that they will highlight with the help of the measuring device, set to 2 V DC. By measuring the voltage at each fruit, they entered in a table the values obtained, then connected in series several “elements” to obtain a larger potential difference. When they reached a voltage of ~ 4-5 V, they connected an LED with the anode to the Cu electrode and the cathode to the Zn element of the source obtained by serial connection of several fruits. They found that the light gets switched on, and hence the existence of electricity from the source.
THE POWER OF FRIENDSHIP
Forming teams, they connected in series as many fruits and vegetables as possible to obtain maximum tension. At the end of the experiment, they noticed that when removing the plaques from the fruit they were cleaned and explained that this is the effect of the action of the acidic environment in the fruit which removed, by chemical reactions, the oxide layer from the surface. At the end of the activity, they washed the metal plates abundantly with water and threw the fruits away.
https://youtu.be/5BzIOMnyCX4 – 10 V
https://youtu.be/krIzW_k1kRw -10V (Fruits and vegetables energy)
SMALL SCALE SOURCES OF ENERGY
Then it was our turn to demonstrate the simplest process of obtaining electricity using human force by spinning a dynamo. They connected an LED to it and noticed that the LED lights up, and its light intensity increases as the rotational speed of the dynamo increases. I explained to them that, by increasing the rotation speed of the dynamo, they increase the potential difference by intensifying the circulation of electrons in the circuit and implicitly this determines the increase of the light intensity of the LED.
https://youtu.be/m7Wb1zJTwQ8- The Dynam
LARGE SCALE ENERGY SOURCES
For starters, I showed them a film https://youtu.be/Giek094C_l4 Renewable Energy Sources. I presented to them the different ways of producing electricity by converting other existing energy sources in the environment. Ex: electricity is produced by a generator that is rotated by wind, water, thermal energy (produced by burning fossil fuels or nuclear energy. The evolution of science has made it possible to obtain electricity and other methods – capturing solar energy and transforming it into electricity using solar panels or chemically due to batteries and accumulators, geothermal, of the tides… Then we discussed the different gadgets that surround us and that we use every day in our lives (light bulb, TV, refrigerator…) It was concluded that each uses a source of energy to function.
WE BUILT BATTERIES
By forming teams, they put into practice how to obtain electricity by chemical method. Using copper coins, aluminum foil and vinegar-soaked cardboard in which the salt dissolved and placing them alternately in the form of a sandwich, we obtained a direct current source similar to commercial batteries. They were delighted to see what happens. That increasing the number of layers and the tension increases. Then they came up with the idea of grouping together and joining their sources in series to get more tension. From here, they extracted the rule that by connecting the sources in series, the potential differences are summed.
https://youtu.be/JseCBdJ1hN8 – Our battery voltage
https://youtu.be/ml_zLC1GesM – We build a battery
THE BREADBOARD AND THE FIRST CIRCUIT
In the following lessons, we explained how to use experimental boards for electronic circuits (breadboard).
For a start, they got acquainted with the most important passive electronic components (resistors, capacitors, diodes), series and parallel connection of resistors. They were taught to recognize the values of the resistors by color code or to read the value inscribed on them (on larger resistors). Then they discovered how to connect them in series and in parallel and how to calculate the values obtained by connecting them in these ways. They also learned the formulas for connecting in series and in parallel, following the experimentation, on a breadboard, of a simple electronic circuit through which they found out how an LED, a capacitor and two resistors behave.
https://youtu.be/2B9lXMiSamQ – LESSON 1( the resistor)
https://youtu.be/JN_4PrFvllw – LESSON 2 (the multimeter)
https://youtu.be/H1IydhyeE50 – ENGINEER REBECA
https://youtu.be/wOFGSPplYcU- ENGINEER SEBI
BREADBORD – CIRCUITS II
The most awaited and intensely lived moment by the children was the realization of a circuit. The connection of the components on the breadboard was made according to the scheme presented on the board and taking into account the polarity of the source, the capacitor, and the LED.
We then created a circuit that also contained an electrolytic capacitor, thus understanding the role of the “tank” of electricity when we interrupt the source. The circuit consisted of a direct current source, 2 resistors, an electrolytic capacitor, an LED, and a switch. When the switch was operated, the LED lit up. When it was released, the children noticed that the LED did not go out suddenly, but maintained its brightness for a certain period of time. This is due to the capacitor that was charged when the switch was operated, and when it was released it supplied electricity for another period of time. The children were then instructed to remove the capacitor from the circuit and observe what happens when the switch is released (the LED turns off suddenly).
LEARN AND GIVE AWAY TO ANOTHER
There were children who succeeded in the experiment in the first attempt. Then, they helped the others who made mistakes in connecting the components on the breadboard, always increasing the number of those who managed to make the correct circuit.
https://youtu.be/BvxpUlHb0oU – A good circuit(Beni –Teo)
https://youtu.be/cjb1HD5pMDA- The Breadboard
https://youtu.be/j1NyIT6TJKU- The Capacitors
https://youtu.be/ZEKSdTzB4-A- The successful project
3D DESIGN AND PRINTING-
– daily 5.04 – 9.04,
– face-to-face meetings and on the Zoom platform
Starting with 15.02, I participated in two interesting courses offered by the European Schoolnet Academy- “AI basics for schools” and “Aerospace in Class”. That’s how we found out about the ESA and Airbus Foundation Contest “MOON CAMP CHALLENGE” . We started to prepare to participate.
Because the extended Easter holiday came, we continued these learning activities by taking them to the next level. We designed shelters on the Moon on the Tinkercad platform (on which we already had accounts), using all the lessons received from the specialists from the School of Science and Technology from Măgurele-online participation, starting with July last year, when we started the first course. There we first heard about the 3 axes – XYZ and how we can change its dimensions along the 3 axes. Then we learned how to rotate, move and resize 3D objects. Now we know how to use the worksheet and the commands or the objects we could use, the view pane, the + and – buttons, and what a projection or perspective means.
After a brainstorming session, reading and watching materials about the Moon, and doing some simple accommodation exercises on the Tinkercad board, we moved on to building shelters. They worked in teams of 2 or 3 synchronously and asynchronously. Hence, they discovered the facilities that the Tinkercad platform offers, respecting the requirements of the contest, using their imagination and creativity to the maximum. They also used the Zoom platform to be able to communicate more easily. Interesting works came out that brought us a lot of joy and satisfaction.
https://youtu.be/1DPqNgIWT-0 – One activity with 3D printer
https://youtu.be/SKX_4HnpBII – Teacher for my coleagues-3D printing
https://youtu.be/4HbCYpZne-g- 1. The teacher
https://youtu.be/fvu7x9HIOUw 2. Darius (teacher)
https://youtu.be/c7JPls773SQ Rebeca (teacher)
https://youtu.be/3OeUDEN45OI- Filip (project)
https://youtu.be/r5zbyrCZ4Po – Moon Camp Base (Team ”Smart Engineers” Ligia- Ioana- Teodora)
LITTLE ENGINEERS IN ACTION –daily 12 – 16.04, face-to-face meetings and on the Zoom platform
Knowing that engineers make the world better, we also tried to find a solution to the Earth’s problems. We thought a space mission could help us. Thus, we tried to build our robots to find the right solutions. We are following the engineering steps in our investigations. We wanted to build our own robots to which we could entrust space missions. Mankind has dreamed for centuries of conquering space. There are now many missions planned and developed to conquer this frontier as well. And we dream about it !! We would like to make a trip by car, but not on Earth, but up in the sky to reach the boundary between the Earth’s atmosphere and space, at the Karman Line !! We’ll be there in an hour. Who knows if we don’t succeed one day?! …
TESTING OUR ROBOTS
We thought of building new robots to help us !! Specialists in different fields: inventors, builders, engineers, researchers, artists … study the world around them, observe, experiment, create, analyze, test. We follow the example of specialists. The students managed to build and program robots (Lego We Do, Maqueen, UFO robot). We used the kits we had. For now, the Maqueens programmed with the help of the micro: bit pocket computer can only follow the light, change their route, speed, but we do not give up our dream. We will use our power and imagination to find creative solutions to problems that are difficult to solve. “If you don’t daydream, time stands still!” O. Pamuk
https://youtu.be/8BwiFLsaYg0 – The little inventor 1
https://youtu.be/wY55NLLSzlA – The little inventor 2
https://youtu.be/X_Iez_ssJWo – Our space rover
https://youtu.be/aV3iOS-T6qM- Moon rover test
https://youtu.be/fEcQ7CXT9Rs- Robot- my friend
WAY OF WORKING
For each activity, the children work in teams of two due to the pandemic situation. They carry out the project together and bring improvements, giving free rein to creativity and imagination, learning to collaborate. We had help in carrying out the activities: parents, colleagues, partners, sponsors. In more complex projects or competitions, they learned to take on a certain role in the team.
They are structured on given topics. Each activity has prepared instructions and worksheets, students having at hand the kits. As the projects become more complex, the constructive solution is a challenge for imagination. The result – STEAM knowledge is gained.
https://youtu.be/sZyb9NSbrkU- In ESA Laboratories
Furthermore, we will learn to use the active components (transistors, integrated circuits, small circuits for automation…). We will continue to improve in 3D printing, building robots with Lego WeDO, DFRobot kits, a micro bit. We will then start learning to program using the Arduino development boards that our TME partners have provided us with. The activities will include topics anchored in everyday life, in which students will understand various concepts. They will complete and deepen their knowledge, will be able to be creative, will share with colleagues their own visions and experience. Will be challenged to solve concrete problems using arithmetic calculations, experiments, tests, etc. like engineers.
THOUGHTS FOR THE END OF THE SDC 2021 CAMPAIGN
STEAM education is a chance to capitalize on the interest that children show, visibly. This created a stimulating educational environment, developing collaboration and communication within the group, and led to increased self-esteem. It is a way to channel their curiosity, their thirst for knowledge towards learning and the spirit of initiative preparing them for a lifelong learning. In this way, children become creators of technology, not just consumers, prepared for the future. STEAM is a type of education that brings reality into the classroom, connecting different subjects. In this way, they can change the world around them, the themes of STEAM projects are always based on real situations in daily life. It gives children greater control over learning.
- All the visuals belong and were provided by the Author – Attribution CC-BY