Croatian STEM Festival to Follow STEM Academy for Kids

Lauren Simmonds

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As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, applied computing, robotics, multimedia computing and geological engineering are some of the areas from which workshops were held last week in the City of Zagreb for 80 high school students from all over the Republic of Croatia as part of the well known STEM Academy. The workshops, which were free for students and included paid travel and accommodation costs, aroused a lot of interest and there were as many as 919 applications for the aforementioned 80 places.

On the premises of the Sports Gymnasium and the Faculty of Mining, Geology and Petroleum Engineering, 15 lecturers held workshops lasting for a period of 5 days, according to a programme developed by the Algebra University and the Faculty of Mining, Geology and Petroleum Engineering in Zagreb in cooperation with the Croatian Office for Creativity and Innovation (HUKI) and the Institute for the Development of Education (IRO).

The topics of the workshops were Unity – making video games; Android – development of mobile applications; Earth, Man and Geotechnology and Robotics.

The benefits of the STEM workshop

“The advantage of programmes such as these is not only getting people better acquainted with STEM through popular forms of teaching, but also getting to know students from different parts of Croatia who share the same interests and sense of separation from the usual environment, which contributes to their independence. Such programmes, in addition to popularising STEM, help students in choosing a future profession,” said prof. dr. sc. Marta Mileusnic from the Faculty of Mining, Geology and Petroleum Engineering.

Lecturer Dino Kurelovic emphasised the importance of understanding the technological environment:

“Such programmes certainly encourage young people to develop their critical thinking skills and come up with creative ways of solving problems, and it certainly gives them a different perspective on technology that is ubiquitous in their lives. During the workshop, they could see what goes on ”behind the scenes” of the computer games or apps they use every day and what needs to happen to make them available to the end user. I believe that most of them are interested in the areas we dealt with, and a workshop like this has certainly helped them gain a better insight and consider whether they want to continue their education in this direction or to do so sometime in the future. Even if they don’t end up choosing the STEM area as their path, such workshops certainly change the perception of what’s happening behind the finished products so readily available to us, they allow us to see the problem in different ways and provide us with a broader picture of what is a very rapidly evolving industry,” stated Kurelovic.

Maja Puhovski from the Algebra University totally agrees with him, and she also believes that such projects are important in order to raise awareness of the importance of investing in knowledge and creative problem solving.

“The STEM Academy will certainly embody a significant step towards the promotion of STEM skills and we’re therefore glad to be part of this project and its sustainability,” said Puhovski.

The impressions of both participants and lecturers

This was the first experience related to the STEM workshop for one of the participants in the video game making workshop, Inka Vukovic from the 1st grade of the Ogulin Vocational and Technical High School:

“The opportunity to participate in this meant a lot to me. The field of education I’m going for (Computer Technician) is what fulfills and I love it, and this academy has provided me with an opening to a wider spectrum when it comes to programming. Over these five days, we learned to work in Unity and in the C# programming language, which allows us to create video games. The STEM Academy left a great impression on me and the other participants and opened up vistas towards further education. The togetherness and mutual cooperation of us students and lecturers is something that will stay in our memory for a long time. The lecturers unconditionally shared their knowledge and experiences with us,” said Inka.

Galla Uroic from the Faculty of Mining, Geology and Petroleum Engineering pointed out her satisfaction with interactivity and communication in the form of dialogue with the students who were present:

“The experience was extremely pleasant and positive, as the participants were interested, willing to actively participate in the workshop, communicate, ask questions without restraint and generally show initiative in the workshop,” said Uroic.

Ana Uglesic, an educational advisor from the Institute for the Development of Education, believes that such programmes for young people are very necessary, especially if we take into account the fact that almost every county lacks experts in the field of STEM:

“I’m glad that the participants were active during the lecture and that they showed great interest in information on how to continue education in the STEM area, either in Croatia or abroad,” concluded Uglesic.

In autumn, the Croatian STEM Festival will be born

After these highly successful workshops, the continuation of the project will follow in the second half of the year when the Croatian STEM Festival is set to take place. The project aims to provide children and young people with the opportunity to develop STEM-related skills, learn about new innovative learning methods and ways to achieve discoveries and results in STEM.

The implementation of the STEM Academy project began on September the 29th, 2021 and has a total duration of two years. The project was co-financed by the European Union from the European Social Fund, it was also co-financed by the Office for Non-Governmental Organisations of the Croatian Government. The total value of the project stands at 1,224,392.86 kuna.

For more on the Croatian STEM Festival and other festivals up and down the country, check out our lifestyle section.


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