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Ministry of Education.
Kaua e rangiruatia te hāpai o te hoe; e kore to tātou waka e ū ki uta

Hands on learning using electronic kits

Student working with a STEAM kit

In a pilot programme with 10 schools, the The Ministry of Inspiration (MOI) has developed electronics kits for teaching and learning in schools.

The STEAMS Kit is a programmable electronics kit for classroom use.

It is accompanied by lessons and designed to provide an engaging way to introduce electronics and coding.

Resources and reflections

The STEAMS Kit

Play dough cat with wired lights attached.

The STEAMS Kit is made up of various components, including light-emitting diodes (LED), batteries, play dough (which conducts electricity), and an arduino micro-controller.

The microcontroller provides an easy, low-cost way for students to send signals between devices. With it, they can control the motion of devices such a simple robots, and use sensors to record data from devices that interact with the environment.

The kit comes with 11 lessons. These develop understandings such as what is electricity and why we need resistors, through to electric motors. Students can then use their new knowledge and skills to design their own projects.

The STEAMS Kit includes a teacher’s guide with information to supplement teachers’ knowledge and provide examples of how the technology might be used. Chromebooks, PCs and Macs all operate in the same way with the kit components.

The Ministry of Inspiration (MOI) has developed the kit. They plan to revise the lessons, based on feedback from the pilot and build additional series. Schools will be able to purchase the kits and lessons.

Updates on the progress with this work are available here.

Reflections and feedback

Pre- and post-pilot surveys indicated that students and teachers considered this kit an engaging way to introduce electronics and coding. Girls were as enthusiastic about the lessons as boys.

Alan York, the project co-ordinator, commented that the kit provides a route into the massive amount of online material and other projects available on the internet.  

Students noted that they could work at different levels with the kits.

Even with instructions we can figure it out ourselves and we are challenged.

Student reflection

It’s got tasks/lessons set for you. But you can just be creative and come up with your own circuits and program your own stuff.

Student reflection

Principal Richard Nott said that working with the kits engaged and challenged the students.

The tasks were always manageable, so all boys enjoyed success. The students found it good to relate to how electronic things work around, for example, traffic lights. It was an outstanding initiative – certainly one of the most meaningful and sustained learning experiences I have been involved in, ever. I have no doubt that my students not only enjoyed it but it changed their worldview and their understanding of our digital lives.

Richard Nott, Principal of Nelson College Preparatory School

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Approach

Two students working with STEAMS Kits.

Teachers attended a one-day initiation workshop and MOI facilitators visited schools several times during the project. Technical support sorted out any interface issues between the kit and the programming devices used by the schools.

Each of these schools received twenty kits:

  • Waimea Intermediate School
  • Saint Paul’s Catholic School, Richmond
  • Nelson College Preparatory School
  • Nelson College for Girls Preparatory School
  • Rai Valley Area School
  • Motueka South School
  • Nelson Intermediate School
  • Riwaka School
  • Tapawera Area School
  • Mapua School

The kits were designed for students to spend one hour a week working through the lessons. The trial resulted in some modification and simplification of the lessons. The MOI is working with the Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology (NMIT) to develop the lessons, which are based on a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, the arts, and mathematics) approach, in a digital format.

Note that the programmes and/or resources used within this project are not officially endorsed by the Ministry of Education.

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