Teaching Students Valuable STEM Skills With Thimble

Liz Education, Events, Teachers

Posing for a picture after our lesson at the Foundry Makerspace
Group photo after our lesson at the Foundry Makerspace

Last week, we celebrated National Week of Making early by hosting a workshop at The Foundry with a group of freshmen and teachers from Health Sciences Charter School in Buffalo, NY!

The Foundry is a business incubator / makerspace for anyone to use in the Buffalo area. They encourage entrepreneurs to rent their spaces and hold classes, workshops, and events to empower the youth and makers of our time. We want to give a huge thank you to them for letting us use their space. We couldn’t think of a more perfect place to facilitate our workshop. To learn more about them, click here.

The goal of the workshop was to educate the students and teachers using our Creator Set. The Creator Set is the first product our subscribers receive and is a starting point for learning electrical, mechanical, software engineering, and computer science. By building it, you will have a fundamental understanding of how code and electronics work, and hopefully, you’ll have an even bigger appetite for learning more about STEM skills. We wanted them to walk away excited about STEM careers, feeling like they had learned something new, and for them to feel confident saying they know how to code!

The workshop started with our Hardware Engineer, David Dressner, and CTO, David Brenner, leading the students and teachers through a presentation about the parts in the Creator Set and their functions. We wanted them to understand each part so when they started building, they would understand which parts provide the functions needed to build the projects they wanted to build.

girl learning how to code on laptop
Leading a student through Thimble’s weather station project

After the presentation, it was time for our favorite part: the building! We led the students and teachers through the Thermometer, one of the projects in the Creator Set. Using the temperature sensor, LCD Display, and a button (all provided in the Creator Set), they were able to read the temperature of the room and touch the sensor itself to see how their body temperature affected it. Everyone did an amazing job! They asked great questions and were excited to try new things.

Once we felt that we had given the students and teachers the skills they needed, it was time to let them free build. One of the best parts about the Creator Set is that there are 12 projects included. That gave everyone a wide range of projects to choose from and gave them the freedom to work at their own pace. The most popular projects included the Music Machine, Clapper, and the LCD Backlight Disco. It was fun to watch everyone try the different projects and see their expressions when they finished a project. We love seeing those “aha” moments!

Posing for a picture after our lesson at the Foundry Makerspace
Group of teachers soldering their first Thimble project

The workshop was extremely successful and we look forward to holding more events like this in the future. One of the reasons we love Buffalo is because of the sense of community. Being able to work together to create something greater. This event wouldn’t have been possible without BAK USA, who provided the laptops and the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus Spark Grant for providing the Creator Sets. The Foundry now has 25 Creator Sets thanks to this grant so they can continue to run workshops for schools and organizations that they partner with.

We believe strongly in assessment, so we had participants fill out pre- and post-workshop surveys to measure our performance. Before the workshop, over half of the participants had never programmed before. After the workshop, 45% said they wanted to pursue a career in STEM, 90% said they were interested in STEM as a hobby, and everyone who participated said they would do another Thimble workshop. We are quite proud of our results.

If you are interested in purchasing a Creator Set, click here. The Creator Set contains re-usable modular components to build 12 different projects that teach you the basic skills of coding (no experience required!) and sets the foundation for our monthly kits. All of our tutorials are available on our learning platform and give you a deep understanding of each project. Happy building!