A most stimulating excursion was organized to the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) Educational Center of Arta in presence of the director of the STEM educational center, Computer scientist, Mr Markos Khattari and the coordinator of REC (Refugee Education Coordinator, Primary school of Filippiada), Mr Ilias Mihalis. With the collaboration of DRC and the support of Unicef.
The Non Formal Education team excursion to the STEM Educational Center of Arta included an array of activities.
The kids seated in front of their “lego-robo kits”, cannot wait to open them. But then, Marilena Papachristou, robotic and STEM educator at the center opens a screen on the whiteboard – it is what you could call an instruction board that gradually shows the car pieces they choose from the kit and are used for building – she shows the children how to pick up the needed pieces and the game starts.
Markos Khattari, director of the STEM skills workshop school in Arta tells us that “this project is received with a lot of enthusiasm; it starts with familiar toys such as a lego and this brings us to moving cars within the environment. For college kids we actually build a sumo-robot and operate it in a ring!”
He explains that “through a hands-on approach children understand how to build a car, and what was previously explained on a whiteboard is now an experiental lesson”. For instance they learn the notion of traction through digitally moving the car with tapping on the icons first depicted on the screen with a tablet.
Markos Khattari, Computer scientist and Director of the STEM education Center (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) graduated from the Computer department of the University of Piraeus and became Product Manager for LEGO education and in 2018 opened this center. “We created a study program starting from children aged four until the second year of High school. Our centers are scientific collaborators of the W.R.O., World Robotic Olympiad competition” he tells us.
The children work in teams and as Mr Khattari tells us this holistic approach allows them to build up self-confidence, they are never alone and they complement each other. “When we achieve a construction we also do a narrative afterwards which introduces language into the scientific experiment. And children learn how to express themselves adding scientific terminology to their vocabulary”.
Sepe and Fatima were very impressed “The car has eyes! It doesn’t tumble over when it reaches the edge of the desk”. When it saw the plant, the car didn’t harm it nor bumped into it. And it didn’t fall”.