Overtime, STEM leaders in Serbia have observed that local education is strong in STEM academics but could use a boost when it comes to hands-on applications. Like many STEM leaders and educators across the world, IEEE volunteers wanted to change this, making project-based work more readily available for Serbian students through the STEM Visits IEEESTEC Conference.
The program launched in the fall of 2021 and consisted of 87 students, 5 teachers, and 7 IEEE volunteers. It was organized into workshops that fell into either a beginner or advanced level. The beginner level workshops introduced not only the academics of basic STEM concepts but also the practical applications of them, including opportunities for project-based learning. The advanced course focused on the Arduino development kit. Students identified basic applications, interpreted datasheets, and performed simulations. The smaller group structure of these workshops allowed for students to have more hands-on opportunities with the Arduino materials. The program included a competitive element as well, featuring a quiz and selection of one project for presentation.
The program had three main goals. One was to increase the participation of pre-university students in STEM initiatives. The second was to enhance the competencies of STEM-concepts among these students. The third was to encourage collaboration between the various local institutions of STEM learning at different levels. The program also served as a platform for hands-on activities, group work, and an opportunity for students to write a paper with the potential to be presented at the conference. Ten of these papers written went through the IEEESTEC conferences’ peer-review process, giving students a real-live taste of the publishing experience.
STEM visits IEEESTEC Conference was funded by the IEEE Pre-University STEM Portal Grant Program in 2021.