Posted: 1 Mar 2016 | 15:38
Yesterday I spent the day volunteering at the Careers Hive a new activity organised by Edinburgh International Science Festival for S1-S3 pupils. The event is running in the Grand Gallery of the National Museum of Scotland from 29th February to 4th March 2016.
During Careers Hive, groups of pupils from schools across Scotland take part in a 3 hour event where they are led through various different activities including hands-on workshops and short inspirational talks from professionals working in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) areas. They also have the opportunity to meet professionals to find out what it's really like to work in STEM fields.
I participated in the event as a STEM professional volunteer. I took part in the speed dating event where pupils get 2 minutes to ask as many questions as they like about your career. The pupils are given a list of suggested questions but are free to ask you anything they like. After 2 minutes the pupils move to the next professional such that after 12 minutes or so they've had the chance to speak to 6 professionals and find out a little bit about lots of possible careers. I found this a really fun event to participate in as you have to think on your feet and you can get asked some very odd questions.
I spent the rest of the day volunteering at various interactive activity stands where students had the chance to try something new whilst being able to chat to STEM professionals. These activity stands were running all day and members of the public were also able to participate if they wished.
For the first activity, I helped students to do some basic coding where they designed the pattern for a kilt by making small changes to a supplied code. As they changed the code they could see the impact that it had on the kilt design/colours and patterns on the computer screen.
I spent most of my time demonstrating the augmented reality sandbox which was great fun. It essentially consists of a large box of regular sand with an Xbox Kinect above it and a projector. As pupils sculpt the sand, contour lines and coloured shading is projected onto the sand making a 3D map. Virtual water can be added by making clouds from the shadow created by your hand. The water flows to the lowest points in the sand. The model updates in real time as students move the sand around. You can create mountains, valleys, ridges, saddles, plateaus, lakes and rivers etc. It is a truly fantastic teaching tool with applications in space science, geology, geography, mapping and much much more. It was absolutely brilliant fun and appealed to all age groups.
A video of the sandbox can be seen below: