To teach young students about the nature of today’s professions and those of the future, this is one of the objectives of the ‘City of Talents‘ orientation project promoted by Apro Formazione and its guidance counsellors.
The project was born with the idea of improving middle school students’ and teachers’ perceptions of the professions, and Apro Formazione decided to propose an industrial computer lab to raise awareness of what an IoT systems technician does, a profession that will increasingly require specialised personnel in the years to come. The aim of the project was not only to present the opportunities offered by the VET world, but also to provide information on high schools and universities that allow access to these professions at different levels.
The activities, divided into several mornings of intervention on different classes of the local middle school, involved the teacher, Stefano Antona, who impersonated an IoT systems technician, presenting the peculiarities of this professional figure.
He started by answering some of the students’ questions – “Do you have to know English?”, “What are the working hours?”, “Do you have to be extrovert?”, “Do you have to relate to other people?” – which made it possible to outline some of the key characteristics of the profile and the transversal competences needed to carry out this profession.
The meaning of IoT was then illustrated, with many practical examples of the application of these technologies that the students may have already encountered: smart home appliances, smart cities, home automation control systems….
A number of exercises were then proposed to be carried out within the DTAM-IoT laboratory, using the Raspberry-pi and the sensor and actuator kits provided by the DTAM sector alliance. Programming was carried out using Scratch software, so as to be able to work on a visual interface that is easy to interpret. The focus was on methodologies that can enable a desired function description to be conveyed in a code composed of functions. The motto of the exercise? ‘If there is a big problem that is difficult to solve, break it down into many small problems that are easy to solve’.
The proposed exercises were completed using a playful Play and Code approach, also using the cute kitten that Scratch provides for coding. The aim was to help the kitten cross the road. To do this, the work was divided into two phases: firstly, it started by managing three actuators (red, yellow and green LEDs) to simulate the lights of a traffic light and manage the timed sequence that alternates the three colours. In the second phase, the programme had to manage the kitten’s movements so that it would stop at red light, go at a normal pace at green light and start running to reach the opposite side of the road at yellow light.
The children were enthusiastic and took an active part in the proposed activities, showing great attention and seriousness, good analytical skills and a lot of curiosity. An auspicious experience for the future of IoT!