Last week, we engaged our students in some serious challenge-based learning in order to understand systems thinking and how computers are embedded into all kinds of systems.

We challenged the 7-12 year old kids in our ‘Computers and How They Work’ summer bootcamp to work in teams to design and program a smart energy system which could respond to different temperatures and activate a heating system when the room temperature dropped. In the process, they learned about  conditionals and if-else statements.

Of course, we’re not talking about a real solution. They created prototypes by designing and programming devices based on LEGO Mindstorms robotics kits. It was the most difficult lesson of the bootcamp but we’re pleased to report that all teams presented working prototypes.

This lesson is part of a computer science curriculum module being developed for 10-14 year olds by Stichting NewTechKids, an independent foundation dedicated to developing, testing and improving computer science curriculum, lesson plans and teaching materials. Stichting NewTechKids is collaborating with Quby, a smart energy management company based in Amsterdam, and Eneco, its parent company, to co-develop the lesson plans and class activities. The lessons will be tested and improved in programs organised and taught by NewTechKids.

This curriculum module is the first in a new series called Computer Science Live which is a series of co-creation partnerships between Stichting NewTechKids and technology companies. Stichting NewTechKids works closely with technology experts in these companies to develop computer science curriculum and lesson plans for primary school students. The goal is not to promote companies or specific technology solutions. Instead, the goal is to use real-life technology solutions in different industries to teach students about fundamental computer science concepts.