Code4Earth: Students use STEM skills and more to promote renewable energy

Environment-friendly inventions created using STEM approach
Some of the students’ creations.

Three classes of Year 6 students from St Augustine Primary Campus in Marsa embarked upon a project called Code4Earth.

The initative took off from a learning outcome in the science syllabus that addresses environmental threats.

Using a STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) approach, the students experienced working on investigations, where the negative effects of the use of fossil fuel were simulated on a test plant using the Kitronik environmental control board, a resource purchased through the Esplora STEM community funds.

The Microbit, which is a pocket-sized computer, introduced the students to how software and hardware work together. It has an LED light display, buttons, sensors and many input/output features, which requires programming. This device was used to address the technological side of STEM, where the students used block coding to programme the device and to create slogans to promote the awareness of the current state of deterioration of the environment.

Through the project, they honed such skills as teamwork, communication, sharing of ideas and computational thinking. Such a hands-on and learner-centred approach aligns perfectly with Malta’s National Curriculum Framework.

More environment friendly creations.

Moreover, the students learnt about the scientific method, which includes observation, prediction and recording of results.

The project then proceeded with the students creating an invention which would use renewable energy to reduce the use of fossil fuels.

To arrive at this stage, the students used Fisher Technik Green Energy Kits, with each group assembling the bits and parts to assemble a model working with renewable energy. Some of their creations include solar helicopters, solar bicycle riders, hydro gang saws and wind wheels.

Parents volunteered in two sessions, and helped the students to brainstorm ideas and generate their invention.

The students needed to draw up an invention which could solve a local problem that is causing pollution, such as in their school, home, sea or locality. Questions were posed to the students to get them to focus and channel their thoughts to ensure that their invention serves its purpose. The students also researched what equipment and technology was needed to get their invention running.

Furthermore, they prepared a presentation and developed their digital literacy and public speaking skills when they presented their invention to an authentic audience on February 16.

Parents of the Year 6 students were invited to attend this event and listened to engineer Noel Balzan and engineer Stefan Demarco from the Malta Chamber.

The rector of the school, Fr David Cortis, and the director of the Secretariat for Catholic Education, Ian Mifsud, praised this initiative where the students attempted to solve real-life problems while promoting a STEM career.

The students were given a certificate to commend their hard work and a gift was given to each student on behalf of the school and Esplora.

The main collaborators of this project were Pamela Fenech, the Head of Department for Primary Curriculum; Roberta Trapani Maggi, the Head of Department for Digital Literacy and Transversal Skills; Natalie Calleja Lombardi, the Head of Department for Digital Literacy and Transversal Skills from the Secretariat of Catholic Education; and St Augustine Primary Campus assistant head Veronique Agius Ferrante, Year 6 teacher Daniela Buttigieg and lab technician Simon Schembri.

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