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Digital Knowledge for Young People: PANaMa Autumn Camps 2019

October 29th, 2019

How does a robot work or how is data securely encrypted? The fifty or so pupils who took part in the PANaMa Autumn Camps in October were able to find answers to these two and other questions relating to digital knowledge. The four one-week robotics and cryptography camps took place from October 7th to 18th at the Kieler Forschungswerkstatt. The Kieler Forschungswerkstatt is a joint institution of the IPN and Kiel University. Its laboratories and rooms are located in the Botanical Garden in Kiel. The project PANaMa (Labor market prospects through science and mathematics) is a project of the German-Danish border region that introduces interesting professions and courses of study at school.

The 14 girls and 35 boys aged between 12 and 15 who took part used their fall break to learn more about encrypting information and data using mathematical logarithms - ranging from historical to digital methods. In the Robo Camp, they could also learn about the design, functionality, construction and programming of robots. The first step was to explain which components are necessary for a robot, from sensors to actuators (components that convert electrical signals into mechanical motion) to microcontrollers, with which the young people could work on a project in the next step. There were two projects to choose from for implementation, each of which could be worked on during the five days of a camp. Lego® components and Arduino elements were used to create either models of a color sorting machine or a vehicle that follows a given route via line recognition. Both models simulate robots or machines with robot technology, as they are often used in industry.

Another topic was cryptography. Crypto Camp was about understanding digital processes, illustrated by the encryption of communication processes with the help of cryptography. In this camp, the students got to know classical methods such as Caesar encryption, which was supposed to guarantee the secure transmission of secret information as early as the times of the Roman Empire. Other methods such as Scytale or the Vigenère cipher were used, and modern cryptography was introduced.

With both camps, the PANaMa project promotes vocational, technical and digital skills of students in grades 7 - 9 of all school types. Within the framework of extracurricular events such as the previous Autumn Camps, the competences acquired in school are thus consolidated with an orientation to the later working world. At the same time, the camps, which are carried out in a similar form by the Danish cooperation partner of the IPN project PANaMa, are the starting point and stimulus for the further development of such teaching formats for the MINT areas. Further camps will take place in Kiel, Odense and Sønderborg in spring and summer next year.

Contact at the IPN
Dr. Marc Wilken
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http://www.panama-project.eu