TECH FOR THE GREATER GOOD
Two primary school students from a small town in Serbia (Lazarevac) became so inspired by the power of Micro:bit devices (hand-held computers) that they created an invention that helped special educational need students both in the classroom and at home, cut rising water bills for their school and raised awareness of autism to the whole community.
Their school was one of 135 that were selected for the pilot phase of the programme and the two girls were excited by Micro:bit devices right from the start. After consulting with their teacher, their first step was to speak with the school principal to unearth if there were any burning problems they could try and solve with this technology.
Their primary school is open to children with special educational needs, with many diagnosed with autism. They learnt that a lot of the students had trouble remembering to turn off the school water fountains, which increased the costs for the already struggling small-town school. By using Micro:bit devices, the girls were able to create an alarm system that would notify staff that a specific water fountain had been left on for too long.
The mini devices empowered them to learn coding skills to solve real life problems.
After seeing the results, the girls decided to get in touch with parents of their friends with autism, in order to suggest some new ways in which they can also use Micro:bits to help make their day-to day lives easier.
Within next to no time, the whole school got involved and organised a walk through the town under the slogan ‘I exist too’. During the walk, students gave out blue origami flowers with messages of love and friendship to fellow passersby. The aim of the walk was to raise awareness of people with autism, who are some of the most discriminated groups worldwide.
21st Century Schools is an ambitious 10 million pounds three- year education programme, designed and implemented by the British Council and funded by the UK Government. It will give over one million 10-15 years old students across the Western Balkans critical thinking, problem solving and coding skills. It will allow students to learn in a fun, interactive and innovative way and give them opportunity to practise their skills by using micro:bit devices.
"We wanted our project to help not only fellow students, but also the school and our town as a whole."
– Nina, programme participant