MadMaker is the brainchild of electrical and information technologies engineer Dr Abelardo Pardo, a specialist in technology-based learning. It was designed to inspire students who may not have previously considered a future career in engineering, technology or science-related fields.
“We worked with teachers to design a STEM teaching tool that would really fit their needs. And students love it.”
MadMaker is touring central NSW schools this week with teachers and students at Canobolas Rural Technology High School in Orange the first to receive a visit from its creators, an electrical engineering team from the University of Sydney.
The school community eagerly awaited the arrival MadMaker, a program that reveals how the embedded computer systems behind many of our everyday devices actually work.
While the teachers will take part in two hours face-to-face professional development workshops, students will receive introductory lessons on how they can interact with MadMaker. Online modules are made available on a weekly basis. The resources include visual description, code samples, videos and multiple choice questions.
Following the visit by the MadMaker team, schools can schedule further training sessions with ‘live’ support available from electrical and information engineering tutors based at the University of Sydney.
The newly initiated schools can also join the national six-week online challenge to be held in October this year.
“MadMaker is about showing and teaching participants in a fun, engaging way about embedded systems and how they are used in our everyday life,” says University of Sydney’s Owen Braiser, who is conducting the workshops.
“During a MadMaker session students use STEM subjects to solve real-world problems in an exciting new way – exploring and designing systems with the popular and user-friendly Arduino Esplora board.
“We picked Arduino Esplora boards because they are an introductory level device, inexpensive, and with functionality to include videos and interactive activities. But it’s also a powerful tool to learn with. If the schools or students want to continue exploring and designing, the costs of the kits are not prohibitive, around about $85,” says Owen.
The MadMaker team will also visit Forbes, Dubbo and Cowra.
Microsoft has supported the regional teacher training workshops with a philanthropic donation.
Anna Howarth, Microsoft Philanthropies Manager, said: “At Microsoft, we recognise that computer science education can empower young people to create the change they would like to see in the world. From our research, we know that students are keen to engage with computer science.”
We are proud to support MadMaker, as the focus on building the competency of teachers to bring computational thinking into the classroom is powerful and helps to drive systemic change in education.
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