National University of Science and Technology Politehnica Bucharest (ROMANIA)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2024 Proceedings
Publication year: 2024
Pages: 2645-2653
ISBN: 978-84-09-59215-9
ISSN: 2340-1079
doi: 10.21125/inted.2024.0735
Conference name: 18th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 4-6 March, 2024
Location: Valencia, Spain
The current paper describes a case study of promoting STEM education for middle school and high school students enrolled in state and private education institutions in Romania through “Hardcore Entrepreneur” hackathon, organized by Faculty of Engineering in Foreign Languages from National University of Science and Technology POLITEHNICA Bucharest and “Punctul IT”, a private IT training company. The competition takes place online each year, between April and June and, starting with last year, the final phase was organized in hybrid format. The hackathon gathers annually over 100 participants, who are organized in teams and is not only an attraction for pupils who are passioned about information technology, entrepreneurship, and public speaking, but also a good example of collaboration between several actors in the current educational landscape: higher education, private institutions involved in IT training, companies, middle schools and high schools, NGOs, and mass media. The contest offers technical and non-technical webinars to help the contestants to implement a mobile application useful for society. Examples of webinars are Android development, video games development, digital marketing and entrepreneurship, public speaking and so on. Also, mentoring and guidance is offered by high school and university professors, students, and lecturers from industry. The case study explores how participants can complete a project during a limited amount time, how it supports active and project-based learning, peer learning, adaptive and self-directed learning. The current article also investigates whether the objectives of the competition were fulfilled: introducing students to the study of technologies that are highly demanded on the labor market; attracting students to the study of engineering or information technology; stimulating and developing entrepreneurial and scientific rethinking; stimulation of creativity, stimulation of communication skills in public and in foreign languages; cultivating and developing the spirit of competition and fair play; cultivating competitiveness and interpersonal communication. The methods of investigation are structured interviews with three groups of competitors: winners, persons who participated in 2023 for the first time and persons who returned to the competition (the hackathon was organized three times so far). Also, success stories are reported, e.g. participants who launched their application or who registered to National University of Science and Technology POLITEHNICA Bucharest as a student, thus choosing a career in engineering. A SWOT analysis of using “Hardcore Entrepreneur” for promoting K12 STEM education is also provided, based on the interpretation of the received answers. Our case study is presented in the context of various forms of promotion of K12 STEM education and the challenges specific for each form of promotion.
Computer science education, K-12 STEM Education, Design Thinking, Business planning, Engineering and Technology, transversal competencies.