PhD student launches free online programme for STEM-loving kids

10 Apr 2020

Marinara Marcato, PhD student and creator of the Smart Edu Club programme. Image: UCC

A PhD student at UCC is hoping to engage kids who love all things STEM with a free online programme during coronavirus restrictions.

A new free, online activity programme focused on STEM has been launched, joining a number of other teach-from-home initiatives during the coronavirus pandemic.

Developed by PhD student Marinara Marcato of the Tyndall National Institute at University College Cork, the Smart Edu Club programme is aimed at children aged seven and older.

The topics for the activities include binary number and text encoding; data encryption; GPS coordinates and systems; and drones. Maracto said that parents do not need any prior knowledge of these subjects as lessons contain accessible language and instructions.

The programme will run from now until 25 April, with parents and kids sent all the activities once they have signed up at the programme’s website.

“At Smart Edu Club, we want to bring scientific topics to life,” said Marcato, who also volunteers to teach science to children in school across Cork.

“We want the children to follow a story, engage with our animations and apply what they learn in a practical project. From my experience, that’s what the kids enjoy the most, seeing their knowledge come to life.”

One of many resources

Marcato will be assisted by fellow students Jean Matias and Vicky Burke.

Commenting on the programme, Tyndall CEO Prof William Scanlon said: “Our postgraduate students, Marinara and Jean, are outstanding examples of Tyndall’s creativity and collaboration during these exceptional times.

“It is very exciting to see their initiative presenting such an invaluable opportunity to support the challenge of home schooling during the current crisis.”

National Geographic recently launched a new digital resource platform called NatGeo@Home, which offers a centralised digital resource for families and educators looking for practical, educational and entertaining content to keep kids engaged with the natural world and the science behind it.

Meanwhile, Microsoft said that it was going to offer a range of free educational content in the hugely popular video game Minecraft. The content includes a tour of the International Space Station, learning to code with a robot, visiting famous landmarks in Washington DC and learning how to be a marine biologist.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic