La Carovana STEM project was launched to scale up and innovate further the STEM education activities that ART-ER started experimenting in 2017 and 2018. These and the new Carovana project are all part of ADER, the Regional Digital Agenda Competences axis’ actions to fight gender stereotypes and gender gaps in digital education.
An important aspect of the up-scaling process has to do with involving schools, teachers, and young people in rural and disadvantaged areas (so-called “internal areas”), such as the Apennines mountains, where opportunities for out-of-school digital education experiences are much fewer than in the cities.
With this aim, ART-ER’s Caravan “travels” around Emilia Romagna, organising in smaller towns and villages, usually in the local schools, short labs (lasting 3 hours up to 1 full school day) and longer labs (2-3 days) with various types of technical activities. In June and September 2019, La Carovana also trialed three 5-day long residential Summer Camps, with a total of 90 students, 12 to 16 years old.
In the La Carovana STEM labs students are invited to work under the supervision of expert tutors on a wide range of topics, with activities adapted according to the age of the students (lower or higher secondary school) and possibly to school curricula. The most frequent topics and tools addressed until now are: sensors /3D printing /Laser Cut; communication on social media (storytelling, blogs, stories, Instagram …); robotics /Lego; augmented reality, holograms/Google Expedition; arts (visual and music) and technology; open data and cultural heritage; open data and discrimination; fake news; digital radio; and drones.
Besides operating during the whole school year, La Carovana activities are organised also inside related events such as the Festival of technical culture of Bologna Metropolitan City, held in autumn every year, and the AFTER Festival – Digital Futures, organised by the Regional government every year in a different provincial capital city (Bologna in 2019, Ravenna in 2020).
La Carovana activities are carried out in close collaboration with the regional school office (USR) of the Ministry of Education, especially to guarantee the involvement of teachers, and with experts from FabLabs and other non-formal digital education organisations across Emilia Romagna for the actual delivery of the technical laboratories.
La Carovana project and parallel activities, which have been recently launched in each province of Emilia Romagna through local accredited VET centres (with ART-ER’s support), are funded by the Regional government’s Action 3 “Systemic action for gender equality” of the ESF Operational Programme, for a total of 4 M€.