Our stories, 21st CS

Elementary school Dule Karaklajić from Lazarevac was one of 135 schools that were selected for the pilot phase of our programme, and math teacher from this school played a great role in introducing micro:bit to her students. Two students became very inspired by the power of micro:bit devices so they created a project that helps students with special needs both in school and at home, their projecet contributed to cuttig rising water bills for their school and raised awareness of autism to the whole community. 

The two of them first went to the school principal and asked him what problems their school was facing, and received the answer that these were high bills for water and heating. In addition to these problems, talking to the math teacher who has a child with learning difficulties, as well as having special classes in their school, they came up with another idea, and that is to try to find a way to help children with developmental problems. Students managed to design two projects with the help of the micro:bit, which reduced the water consumption in the school building, thus reducing costs. By using micro:bit devices, the girls were able to create an alarm system that would notify staff that a specific water tap had been left on for too long, this is particuarly useful for their friends with special needs.

With this project, girls won the first place on Coding Challenge. 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.

The students of this school contributed to the celebration of the World Autism Awareness Day by organizing a walk in which they wore “I exist” badges, blue T-shirts because blue is the symbol of children with autism, and at the end of the walk they organized an origami workshop at which they made different shapes out of blue paper, and they passed messages to passers-by with the wishes of people suffering from autism, and in that way they drew attention to autistic people. This is how one of the students who participated in the organization of the walk explains their action: “I think that this kind of action should be supported because we are a society that finds it difficult to accept differences, simply to show that they are just as important and that they are no different from us. Our goal is to bring people closer to autism, that people with autism simply are not less valuable”.

"We wanted our project to help not only fellow students, but also the school and our town as a whole."

– Nina, student 

Four children talking to eachother

But, what happened next? 

Although the school is large, after the success of Nina and Tijana, all students were informed about the existence of the micro:bit in the school. About 200 students of the school participated in the workshops of the “21st Century Schools” programme. At the workshops, all interested students were given the opportunity to take the micro:bit home, because the teacher’s idea was to interest parents in this way, as well as for students to try to do something on their own. This eventually had an effect, about 20 students managed to do something on this device.

The computer science teacher states: “There is no class in which we did not use the micro:bit, the students are interested in the fact that someone from our school got an idea that was so highly rated. It is a signal to them that they need to do something like that. Now, whether everyone would come up with an idea that is thankfully worthwhile is a question. But in any case, any child who knew what it was about was proud and would not mind participating in a future project.”

For about 20 students who actively participated in the programme, the teachers indicated that they had also developed knowledge transfer. The promotion of the micro:bit did not end only in the school classrooms, but took a step further: a workshop was organized in the Modern Gallery in Lazerevac in which five students of Dule Karaklajić school presented the micro bit:device to all interested visitors. By including children of low socio-economic status in group work, it contributed to increasing their self-confidence and better integration with other children. But it also, had impact on teachers. As subjects begin to connect to each other via micro:bit, there has also been a change in employee relations. They started cooperating much more than before.

The principal emphasizes the following: “The main achievements of the project are the awareness of teachers that students can work in a different way. For the children, this way of working was a more interesting, long-lasting process and connected them with teachers from different subjects. The programme gave the idea for the introduction of block classes, which were later accepted by two schools in the municipality of Lazarevac.”