STEM for all in many ways

When we use the term STEM for all, we think of making the use of educational technology and STEAM activities accessible to all students, regardless of their academic background. With this in mind, at the Blas Infante Secondary School in Cordoba, Spain, we always try to ensure that students with certain learning difficulties can participate in an integrated educational context in which the use of technology helps them to develop the skills necessary for any student and future worker in the 21st century.

In our school we work with a specific classroom for students with disabilities in order to facilitate their transition to working life in a kitchen-related occupation. These students are between 15 and 17 years old and during SDC22 they have been able to create a virtual tour of their place of work and study thanks to the virtual environment creation resource CoSpaces Edu.

Student working with CoSpaces Edu

In this activity they has described the different points of work in his kitchen-workshop and his classroom to share it with other students and their families. It has allowed them to explain different actions that they normally carry out on a day-to-day basis to show their work. This virtual creation workshop has been carried out in a total of 2 hours and has been shared with all the educational community of the School.

Example project

But the STEM for all approach offers us many more possibilities. It also allows students who have good STEM skills to create learning experiences to share it with their schoolmates, making the use of technology accessible to all students through a collaborative experience.

Preparing the robot

In this way, a group of upper secondary school students have coded the Maquenn robot with micro:bit to record times when passing through a circuit formed by 4 black marks on the floor. Programming has not been easy or very intuitive, so it is not a proper activity to carry out with groups of other levels. But having programmed this action, it has been possible for other students in the 2nd and 4th years of Secondary Education to use this robot to explore the representation of space and time in a uniform rectilinear movement and to calculate its speed. Thus, what for some students has been a programming practice, for others has become a physics and mathematics practice to calculate the speed of an MRU.

Students preparing the experiment

Obviously, the upper secondary students have been able to do the complete experiment: programming and calculating speed. This has been a very complete STEM practice. But it has also been possible to bring the use of educational robots for the study of movements to other students thanks to the collaboration. In addition, two of the students involved in the design of the activity have guided the development of the practice for other students.

This is another approach to STEM for all, an approach in which students themselves bring the use of technology through STEM practices to the student community

Robot code

Display code

Presentation to carry out the project with students (Spanish version)

Meet a Phylogenetic Plant Ecologist Researcher

Many times, when STEM professionals go back to school in order to share their professional experience, they focus on the characteristics of their work, their everyday routine or the skills they have learned to carry out their work. But, it is also really important to know the impact of their profession on our daily lives. In many cases, it’ s easy to understand, although sometimes it is worth making an effort to explain it. For example, STEM professionals who are involved in scientific research.

The students of IES Blas Infante in Cordoba, Spain, have had the opportunity to hear the experience of Rafael Molina, Biology PhD.

The activity with this STEM professional have been planed for 4th year secondary school students. These pupils are between 15 and 16 years old and they have to choose an educational itinerary for the last two years of secondary education. So this activity has been organised as part of the academic orientation plan to show them STEM careers.

Rafael Molina explained the importance of knowing the evolution of the vegetal species and the characteristic ecosystem of each area around the world and their relationship with human well-being. But he also shared his professional experience from a different point of view, although shared with many other STEM careers: scientific research. Many of our students don’t know what research work exactly is and how important it is for our society to generate scientific knowledge in all fields of study.

For this reason, Rafael shared his professional experience and explained the importance of keeping the research process alive. He told us about a work in the field of Biology that was carried out in the 1960s analysing a group of bacteria living in hot thermal waters of the Yellowstone Natural Park. With this example, he showed us that, although in those years this study may not have had much importance, later it would be of considerable help to everyone. Even if it were carried out now, we might think that it is something that is not very important. But on the other hand, he explained the importance that the development of this study had for the development of something that all students are familiar with today: PCR tests for the detection of COVID-19.

This made us understand that the importance of carrying out scientific research work does not mean that a great discovery will be made at that moment, but to contribute to the necessary and constant generation of scientific knowledge, which is what has always helped the development of our society. Likewise, keeping this knowledge and making society understand that everything is based on scientific evidence helps to avoid the fake news that generates so much controversy in our society. He explained what scientific publications are, what they are based on and what a publication process is like, trying to make it clear that it is necessary to check the information and always use reliable sources.

More information about his research:

A walk through Cordoba with Julio Romero de Torres

The students of IES Blas Infante from Córdoba, Spain, carried out a STEM project with the aim of discovering more about several places in their city through pictures of the most important artist of the city, Julio Romero de Torres. They created a tour around the city locating different places that appear in pictures of Julio Romero. To make the walk more powerful, on each place there is a QR code that allows the visitor to explore a virtual scene created with CoSpaces Edu in order to know the picture where this place is represented and the most important information about this painting.

The project has been developed from February to the end of April in order to achieve the following objectives:

  • To learn more about our city Cordoba and the life and work of the Cordovan painter, Julio Romero de Torres
  • Create virtual scenes to show the painter’s work and relevant information about it.
  • Use a block based programming language to define the interaction in the virtual scene.
  • Learn to use collaborative work tools to create multimedia contents that facilitate remote working.
  • Promoting professional vocations within and outside the STEM field among the participating students.
The picture is the author’s own – (Attribution CC-BY)
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STEM professionals go back to school to motivate vocations

The students of IES Blas Infante, in Cordoba (Spain), in the 4th year of Compulsory Secondary Education have been lucky enough to enjoy an online talk by three professionals in the STEM field in our city to motivate professional vocations

All the students who have attended are studying a Science and Technology pathway and these types of activities aim to motivate vocations both within and outside the STEM field. When we develop a STEM project at school, we try to bring different approaches in order to develop different skills, not just those associated with science and technology.For example, by carrying out STEM projects we try to encourage languages skills or abilities related to the world of art or graphic design. Our point of view is that the development of STEM projects should help to motivate any type of vocation.The STEM field is characterised by its transversality, and this helps us to develop skills applicable to any other field.

In order to continue working on this idea, a talk has been organised in which we have been privileged to have a professor and researcher in Physics from the University of Cordoba, a Doctor in Chemistry who works for the municipal water management company and a computer programmer who designs cars for videogames.

The picture is the author’s own – (Attribution CC-BY)
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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.

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