If a project can work with one student, then it can work with every student in a class. If it can work with one class, then it can work with all classes in a school. If it can work in one school in a town, then it can work in all schools in that town. If it can work in one town, then it can work in any town in UK.
The STEM problem is that we are not going to have enough scientists to solve the problems of the next decade and the question is, if we need 10,000 scientists in ten years time, how many do we need to expose to a particular branch of science, bearing in mind that probably less than one child in every thousand will become a scientist. To solve the problem we basically need to expose ALL children to science as young as possible. The general consensus of opinion is that starting at six is not too early. Now bearing in mind that the secondary schools I visited as as science and engineering did not have a single solar energy project, computer programming, or ROBOT between them, so there is a lot of catching up to do. This is not just me saying this, on a recent UNICEF survey of how well 21 leading industrialised nations, provided for and educated their children, UK came bottom. I will publish the results on a separate page. We are failing our children.
The classroom situation.
Teaching a subject, in the classroom, in the conventional way requires a teacher who has been trained in that particular subject. To suddenly introduce a new subject, would require an enormous amount of training for teachers and it would probably be ‘impossible’ to implement. That word again !. This would only be true if a skilled teacher was required to make the idea work. The solution is to make the course work with out a skilled teacher. The teachers presence would only be required for health, safety and discipline puposes. So what we have to do is design a course that can run itself, imposing no extra work load on the teachers. In the case of the microprocessor course, not only does the software have to work, but also it must be impossible to set the hardware up wrong too. For example the child must have a short 1 hour induction course before they start on the first lesson, not just in one school, but ALL schools. Basically it also means that the induction must also run itself, requiring the teacher only to run a PowerPoint presentation and read a script. All this work has already been done.
The home situation.
The aim of the project is to get children ‘hooked’ on STEM subjects. Any child that gets interested to that extent will also want to do it as a hobby at home. Again this means that everything must be simple and work every time, without any specialist electronic knowledge.
Another factor is that the child would want to have their own equipment and not have to borrow it from a school. Much of my work has been in developing the required equipment at low cost. The end result is a development board, a battery pack and a serial download cable, which could be made at £10, which is within most children’s pocket money range.
A plug in LCD display can be added at lesson 4, for about £2.50.
Copyright John Kent 2012. All rights reserved.