Kids love playing games on their parents’ phones, there’s no doubt about that. But there are some kids who recently learned how to create their own games! Brainiacs Robotics held non-resident Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) camps in the three Nigerian states of Plateau, Kaduna and Lagos. They chose to hold the camps at the end of summer break, when there’s a noticeable decline in kids’ learning performance. This created a unique opportunity for them to engage in skills they may not ordinarily be taught in their everyday Nigerian curriculum.
The campers included both boys and girls, ranging in age from 5-16, and were divided into small groups. They started each day with a safety moment to really drive home the importance of staying safe during the activities, followed by a quick 10 minute STEM moment to introduce them to Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and teach them how they could apply STEM to help achieve these goals as they grow up. Then it was time for the project-based activities.
The children had the opportunity to take what was in their imaginations and put it into reality, when they were introduced to 3D modeling and printing with a printer from XYZprinting. They really enjoyed seeing the things they modeled on the computer coming out of the printer as physical objects they could pick up and touch. Technology like 3D printing is proving very effective in strengthening STEM learning around the world, as witnessed recently by Airwolf 3D at the 2016 Annual California STEM Symposium held in Anaheim.
The campers also learned the basics of programming, coding, and simple Android app development. They worked on developing games like apple dropping using Scratch, treasure hunts using Kodu, and analyzing simple mathematical concepts with Turtle Art. These projects were really great for the campers, as they had direct applications to what the kids could connect with, and exposed them to game development concepts. Why play Fruit Ninja on Mom’s phone when I can create my own game?
An introduction to robotics was also part of the program, and the campers were understandably excited to learn more about the practical, programmable robots! The beginners, aged 5-9, completed projects that were aimed at explaining basic science and engineering concepts, using Lego WeDo 2.0. They learned about everything from nature (flowers and pollination and the life cycle of frogs) to galaxies far, far away (space exploration) to the everyday forces at work on our planet. Some of the older campers used the Lego Mindstorm EV-3 to complete projects such as programming a stair climber robot, a tankbot, and educator vehicles. These robotics sessions really helped the campers gain a hands-on understanding of how robots can be programmed to carry out challenging, repetitive tasks for humans (wait until they see this robot that can do push-ups!). They also received a great education in the integration of hardware and coding principles; not normally things you’d learn during an average school day.
The campers also got to channel the great inventors by learning the principles of troubleshooting and fault finding. Using basic low voltage electronics components and the award-winning littleBits, the beginner and intermediate groups learned to build workable systems, like circuit cruisers, security devices, and even prank handshakes! The older campers were introduced to electronics design and, among other projects, completed an automated traffic light using Arduino Uno.
The campers had a lot of fun, and also learned a great deal, which is why STEM education is so important around the world. They are demonstrating skills in areas that can help their country continue to move towards a more knowledge-based economy. Brainiacs STEM and Robotics say they’re already looking forward to next summer and plan to expand their camps to a minimum of 6 cities in Nigeria, including Kano, Jos, and Port Harcourt, and hopefully to other West African cities as well, such as Dakar.
They are hoping to partner with more organizations, both for-profit and non-profit, to continue to give Nigerian boys and girls the opportunity to use the latest tools to continue learning the basics of creativity and innovation. Brainiacs believes that with the right investment, a sense of commitment, and collaboration with others, they can help create a generation of innovative makers that can lead Nigeria into growth and sustainability. Discuss in the Brainiacs forum at 3DPB.com.Braniacs Robotics]