Today, NewTechKids kicked off a week of classes for kids ages 8-12 which will encourage students to think critically about how technology can be used to screen and monitor the Coronavirus and help people who contract it.
We taught classes at an international private school and several Dutch primary schools for kids ages 8-12.
We discussed some of the technology being used to combat the virus: thermal imaging, drones in China which issue warnings to people who aren’t wearing masks, robots which disinfect hospital equipment, and robots which deliver food and supplies to quarantined people.
We tied this to the scientific field of bioinformatics which combines biology and computer science. (Using bioinformatics, Chinese scientists discovered that a seafood market in Wuhan was where the virus began spreading rapidly between humans.)
We reviewed the symptoms of the Coronavirus and ways to minimize the risk of contracting the virus: frequent hand washing, social distancing (staying away from groups of people) and coughing and sneezing into one’s elbow.
We then challenged students to come up with robots and tech prototypes which prevent the virus, help monitor it or detect people with the Coronavirus.
The point was not to develop medically-sound or technologically-advanced prototypes. The point was to encourage students to apply their critical thinking and judgement, knowledge of computer science and programming and imagination to create solutions to a real problem. We provided them with a chance to exercise their computational thinking skills to come up with ways to solve a problem using computers and computation.
Some of the results: an automated hand washing machine, a snot detecting robot which announces ‘Coronavirus detected’, and machines with sensors which detect high temperatures and which administer needles. (For videos, check out NewTechKids’ Facebook, Twitter and Instagram feeds.)