Tech for whizz kids

Metro Bank runs workshops for primary school pupils in London and beyond

It’s not easy for primary schools to keep up to date with the latest innovations in technology, particularly with resources so stretched. So when pupils at seven primary schools took part in tech workshops delivered by volunteers from community bank Metro Bank, their learning curve was huge.

The schools were chosen because of their location in the most deprived parts of London, though Metro Bank plans to extend the programme further afield. A total of 16 one-day Tech Zone workshops were attended by pupils aged eight to 11. The workshops were created by the bank’s Engineering & Transformation Team and were focused on coding for micro:bits – tiny computers originally created as part of the BBC’s Make It Digital initiative.

Each workshop began with an ice breaker before a basic introduction to programming on the micro:bits. These devices have various sensors and capabilities such as buttons, LEDs, light sensor, temperature sensor, microphone, compass, accelerometer, speaker, radio and pins to connect to other devices or extensions. They are very easy to programme or code using drag and drop blocks, but they are also versatile enough to do more advanced coding. Each child was able to keep the micro:bit they had created to continue their learning at home.

‘As a community bank we wanted to inspire the next generation – especially kids who may not have easy access to tech – to consider working in this field,’ says Metro Bank’s chief information officer Faisal Hussain. ‘Our ultimate aim is to create future engineers by generating excitement about careers in engineering and wider tech through awesome role models – namely our colleagues!

‘We also wanted to provide pupils with the experience of using and building technology, and improve knowledge in STEM subjects with a hands-on learning day, and a focus on the core skills of collaboration, engagement and communication.’

The sessions have been a huge success and have been delivered to more than 300 children. ‘Pupils were really excited, asking if they could do this every week,’ says platform analyst Gemma Kervaon Taylor. ‘The final quiz showed their comprehension and just how much they enjoyed the session.’

The workshops follow on from the bank’s financial education programme Money Zone, which has been delivered to more than 250,000 schoolchildren across the country. Metro Bank has been accredited as a STEM organisation with STEM Learning in order to train its employee volunteers to deliver programmes in schools.

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