#SmartCityMaker: a city for young people

Students who recreate a city by working on math, the social universe and programming, supported by digital technology: this is #SmartCityMaker.

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Students who recreate elements of a city by working on math, the social universe and programming, supported by digital technology: this is #SmartCityMaker.

During the last iPad and digital education summit, Raoul Kamga and Jean-Nicolas Proulx, research assistants of the project , directed by Margarida Romero at the Faculty of Educational Sciences of Laval University, offered a short presentation of the # projectSmartCityMaker, which aims to introduce about 8 to 12 year olds to computer thinking, programming and robotics. A few schools in Quebec are participating in this project, including four classes from Collège Beaubois in Montreal.

We had the opportunity to discuss last year with students from Collège Beaubois during an open day at the Beaubois factory, the digital manufacturing workshop (makerspace) of the establishment. They explained to us how they participated in this project.

Collaboration, creativity and interdisciplinarity

The teachers first assigned a different city to each class: Rome, Paris, New York, London. It is the teacher who printed the maps of these cities on a sheet of legal size paper, distributed to the students. The maps were separated into sections, and each team of 4 students was assigned a section of the city.

Photo: Ninon Louise Lepage

The teams transferred the streets for which they were responsible to the ladder onto pieces of juxtaposed foam carpets. Then, each team chose a building characteristic of the district which was assigned to them. The students who showed us their work had to make a scale copy of London Bridge. Using InkScape software, a free multiplatform software installed on the computers of the Fabrique Beaubois, the students drew the parts of the building to be reproduced. They then transferred the specifics to the laser cutter installed in this digital manufacturing workshop, which cut the parts on wooden boards. The students were then able to glue the pieces to construct the replica of the building.

The next step was the programming of the robots that were to circulate in the city. The Scratch programming software was used to do this. During the demonstration I attended, the educational and programmable robot mBot v.1.1 from Makeblock was used by the students. This robot, based on an Arduino platform, equipped with sensors, offered the students a real programming experience, an introduction to electronics and robotics.

Culture Maker : a new era of'industrialization

It is Mr. Michel Choquette, teacher of the social universe, who accompanies the students in this project, by which they learn concepts of mathematics and programming, but also develop skills of collaboration and creativity within the framework of the program of social universe. A fine example of interdisciplinarity!

To Ann-Louise Davidson, professor at Concordia University, digital technologies are not only tools of communication or entertainment. According to this researcher, culture Maker helps to make learning concrete.

According to her, we are currently living in a certain "Wild West" of culture. Maker, the start of a new era. It is a form of industrialization in which everyone can participate. “Hacking” is an alternative way of solving problems and practicing living together. You learn, among other things, not to be intimidated by your mistakes. She believes that this is a phenomenon that goes beyond technological learning to achieve social innovation.

To learn more about Maker culture and experience it, the academic invites you to MakerJam events in BackgroundsMake Workshop Series, from Concordia University in Montreal.

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About the Author

Ninon Louise Lepage
Ninon Louise Lepage
Ninon Louise LePage is a pedagogue and museologist who recently came out of premature retirement to be reborn as an educational designation. She has taught at the Université du Québec à Montréal and the Université de Sherbrooke in science education, in addition to working at the Canadian Heritage Information Network as a museology consultant. She also writes for our French friends at Ludomag. She also invites all interested to contact her so that she can talk about you, your students, your school and your particular experiences in digital and computer education.

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