Today’s curious young minds are tomorrow’s engineers, designers and innovators...
Some European countries have cautiously unveiled plans to ease restrictions and lift Covid-19 lockdown measures over the next few days or weeks. Nonetheless, some kindergartens, elementary schools, junior and senior high schools will remain closed through the end of the school year. Homeschooling is a challenge for parents and kids, but one of its secrets is diversity, and getting kids away from virtual classrooms to conduct practical experiments can develop their spirit of innovation. At EE Times Europe, we wanted to understand how kids, from toddlers to teens, are having fun under lockdown. Evidence shows that creativity and observation lead them onto each new project, allowing us to think that today’s curious young minds could potentially be tomorrow’s engineers, designers and innovators.
A quick search on the web, and parents will find hundreds of How-To tutorials to keep their kids entertained at home before or after homeschooling hours. But sometimes it is worth stepping back and letting their imagination run free. Traditionally, boredom has been associated with a range of negative outcomes. However, Sandi Mann and Rebekah Cadman, psychology researchers at the University of Central Lancashire, explained the creativity-boosting power of boredom.
Kids have limitless imagination and adapt easily to the constraints. Confined inside four walls, with or without a garden, they use curiosity and creativity to explore new ideas and make them come to life. They think ‘out of the box’, just like engineers.
EE Times Europe editors have observed their own kids and asked their kids’ friends in Italy, in the UK and in France how they nourish their interest for science and how they are having fun with home science during the lockdown.
Here is a photo gallery of eight kids, aged 2 to 14, who show a genuine interest in science and its applications in the real world.
For those of you with kids, grand kids, great grand kids or nephews working on science projects and willing to share their experiments, please send us a message at firstname.lastname@example.org. We would love to start a conversation with today’s young, creative minds that will shape tomorrow’s innovations.
Growing with Arduino
The lockdown in Italy has directed schools towards online education. Many people, in particular the children, had to “re-invent themselves” using technological resources.
Pescara-based Elisa had fun during the periods of no homework with the construction of a robot that she called Roboboy. In the picture, Elisa is assembling the various pieces, such as the Arduino control board and the ultrasonic sensors to detect obstacles. Everything is open source programmed via Arduino IDE. You can modify the default codes and work with the reserved pins to add more sensors.
Another tool that Elisa enjoyed programming is Microduino: an educational tool to learn or teach electronics and programming. It doesn’t require any messy wiring or risky soldering. With its Lego compatible pieces, you can build your Lego projects by using electronics sensors.
Learning Sequences of Numbers
In the UK, social distancing measures continue into their fifth week. Schools, including daycare, have been closed since March 20th, and will likely remain closed throughout May. At the moment, there is no firm date for the end of these measures or the reopening of schools. Many kids are at home with their parents who are attempting homeschooling for the first time.
Two-year-old Joshua has been learning the names and sequence of the numbers from 1-10, with some success, using a colourful abacus. He has also been learning about shapes and how they fit together with a jigsaw puzzle of his favourite cartoon characters.
Observing Cells Under a Microscope
France will be under strict lockdown until May 11th. At least. In an address to the National Assembly on Tuesday, April 28, French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe detailed his plan for the country’s exit from lockdown. Schools will reopen gradually, starting with kindergartens and primary schools, and pupils aged 11-15 will be expected to wear face masks.
At home, kids have had ups and downs. Sometimes they fight with each other. As kids do. But they have been patient, supportive, and resourceful, organizing Olympiads in the garden, observing bird breeding with their telescope, building a lava lamp with oil, water and aspirin…
In the picture, 13-year-old Aliénor invites her brothers, right after dissecting an onion, to examine its cells under the microscope. She tells them about mitochondria, chloroplast, photosynthesis as her biology teacher taught her before the lockdown.
Sowing the Seeds of Precision Agriculture
Precision agriculture is allowing farmers to increase the quality, quantity, sustainability and cost-effectiveness of agricultural production. After long hours of staring at a computer screen, Pierre gives himself a breakaway in the fields and a practical application of his biology courses. Always with his Brittany Spaniel, Loustic.
The key to successful seeding is to respect seed spacing (i.e., the distance between seeds in a given row and the distance between rows) so as to optimize the exposure of each plant to the sun’s rays. In the picture on the right, 14-year-old Pierre is programming a Fendt GPS to self-steer his father’s tractor. The GPS will then calculate the correct trajectory of the tractor with an accuracy of 0 to 2 centimetres. Pierre is also programming the tractor’s console to adapt the engine speed and driving speed to optimize diesel consumption.
When he doesn’t build warships, spaceships and military vehicles with Lego bricks, Amaury assembles his Hummer-Bot, a multi-function car based on the Arduino UNO R3 open-source microcontroller board.
The screwdriver in his hand, the 11-year-old boy fixes the wire on the motor with tie tape, mounts aluminum alloy brackets on acrylic plates, installs the connecting shaft and the four racing wheels. The fun part doesn’t stop once the car is built: Hummer-Bot embeds ultrasonic sensors, an infrared obstacle avoidance module, a wireless communication module, and other parts. It can run on every corner, avoiding obstacles and moving along the black and white lines freely. No risk of damaging the furniture!