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MDV - 11/12/2014

Inria at the education fair

© Inria / Photo G. Scagnelli

The "Educatec Educatice" fair took place in Paris from 18 to 20 November 2014. This annual event brings together education professionals to discuss their teaching practices using digital technology.

Every year, the Educatec Educatice fair brings together education professionals involved in innovation and digital science. Including conferences and demonstrations, the fair is also a chance to discuss teaching practices employed by all the participants.

This year again saw Inria at the fair to present its teaching resources related to digital science, including in particular:

  • IniRobot, a series of learning activities developed by the Flowers project team as an introduction to Robotics
  • Computer Science Unplugged,  a collection of free learning activities to teach children who do not have computers about digital science

Martin Quinson is a Lecturer at the Université de Lorraine. He has been working on unplugged activities for many years. He has been involved in projects with teachers, carrying out experiments in the classroom. His aim now is to scale up such experiments and, to that end, he needs support from teaching staff.

"We are involved in a project with the Institut de Recherche en Enseignement des Mathématiques IREM, the Institute for Research on Mathematics Education), where we are experimenting with activities that I have come to present here today. In particular, we have tested these activities with Year 7, Year 8 and Year 11 students. The workshops aim to get the students talking. What is fascinating when you ask a student to show that two straight lines are parallel, is not about the straight lines: it’s about getting them to reason out loud and organise their thinking. And these are skills that are not only useful in Mathematics, they are essential in French as well!

So, that's why I am here today, to present these activities. This is a way of sharing them and, I hope, of getting your feedback in order to improve them. I have a bit of a crazy dream, that a teacher will tell me: "I tried it, it's not bad, and I have added an activity too."

Thymio robots (EPFL) being demonstrated during Educatec Educatice - © Inria / photos by G. Scagnelli / layout by S. Barbier

"At the moment, my Year 9 students are making models, says Léo, who teaches Technology at lower secondary level, especially of a house. Then, using the computer, they can programme when the shutters are opened and closed. And my Year 7 students are making radio-controlled cars, so I came to see the different models constructed at the fair. This gives me a chance to see innovating projects, so I can improve my classes. "

Sylvian also teaches Technology, but he also works with EuroSmart. This company develops Educaduino kits, an electronic board equipped with a processor and a controller to which you can connect peripherals, sensors or even small motors. The board can be used to design interactive objects.

"This gives me a critical vision of the hardware and I can see whether or not it is suitable for the class:

  • on the logistics side, is the hardware suitable
  • at the level of explanation, are the kits easy to use for the teaching staff
  • and, on the teaching side, it has to be in line with the curriculum!

For the moment, programming isn't exactly part of the technology curriculum, but its inclusion is suggested every now and then. For example, when we ask students to work on technical projects and find technical solutions, it is often the case that object-oriented programming would make it easier to find a solution. In Mathematics, on the other hand, they are already working with algorithms, and I think this will eventually be included in Technology too."

  • Thymio robots (EPFL), objects in the IniRobot series of learning activities © Inria / Photo G. Scagnelli

  • Thymio (EPFL) can move around an interact with its environment © Inria / Photo G. Scagnelli

  • C. Leininger, head of the scientific mediation project, and G. Giraudon, Director of Inria Sophia Antipolis © Inria / Photo G. Scagnelli

  • Demonstrating the Action Dépollution game © Inria / Photo G. Scagnelli

  • Unplugged activities, the "takeaway" version © Inria / Photo G. Scagnelli

Keywords: IniRobot Unplugged Educatec Educatice Éducation