INTERREG project Computer Science Bags (Informatikkoffer) tests small learning robots on primary schools in the border region
Passau computer scientist Professor Gordon Fraser has lots of round Ozobots in his bag when visiting primary schools in the Austro-German border region. The goal: introducing children to computer sciences early.
Logical thinking doesn't require high-tech equipment. A piece of paper and some colourful pens will make do at first. This is what Passau computer scientist Professor Gordon Fraser has in his bag when visiting schools in the Austro-German border region. Fraser holds the Chair of Software Engineering II at the University of Passau. Alongside pen and paper, the computer science bag contains small, round learning robots, called ‘Ozobots’.
Mobile promotion of computer sciences in border region
‘Our goal is to introduce children to computer sciences at an early age’, explains Professor Gordon Fraser. In Britain for example, algorithmic thinking and programming are already being taught from the first year of schooling onwards. In Germany and Austria these topics are introduced much later. There is certainly a desire in both countries to change this. However, the schools are often not equipped for this and the teachers, unprepared.
Here Professor Fraser and his team are making a start with the EU project ‘Computer Science Bags’: They want to promote earlier and better access to computer sciences in the border region with the help of simple and portable means, as well as targeted teaching material.
Pen and paper are put to use first when Fraser visits Year 3 and Year 4 classes. The children are tasked with drawing black lines on the paper, broken up with short, colour markings. These lines will be followed by the little Ozobots. With the help of colour codes, the children issue the robots with commands.
Difficult transition to programming
‘Our prior experience has been that children are enthused by the project, as long as they are allowed to draw’, explains Professor Fraser. The transition to programming is trickier. Here the children work with an age-appropriate program, which follows the building block principle: They must arrange pre-programmed blocks in the correct order.
The research team uses the primary school visits to test what works and what doesn't. The project also includes workshops for teaching staff in the border region. Within the scope of the project, a web portal was created, upon which the developed content can be configured and with the help of which participating teaching staff can exchange experiences beyond borders. Schools can continue to borrow the computer science bags after the project has finished.
The University of Passau is leading the project. Johannes Kepler University Linz is a partner in the project. The EU is sponsoring the project for 16 months with money from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) within the scope of the INTERREG Programme between Austria and Bavaria running from 2014 to 2020.
|Principal Investigator(s) at the University||Prof. Dr. Gordon Fraser (Lehrstuhl für Software Engineering II)|
|Project period||01.09.2018 - 31.12.2019|
|Source of funding|
Europäische Union (EU) > EU - Europäischer Struktur- und Investitionsfonds (ESI-Fonds) 2014-2020 > EU - ESIF - Europäischer Fonds für regionale Entwicklung (EFRE) 2014-2020 > EU - ESIF - EFRE - INTERREG Österreich-Bayern 2014-2020 (Kleinprojektförderung)
|Themenfelder||Informatik, Computer Science, Informatik allgemein, Angewandte Informatik|