Europe Code Week 2022 and sustainable development

By Sanja Pavlovic Sijanovic & Davor Sijanovic, Gymnasium Vukovar, Leading Teachers in Croatia 

During Europe Code Week 2022, at our school we gave presentations of software solutions that contribute to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. The pupils Blanka Bucko, Fran Hutinec, Lara Sijanovic and Hrvoje Sovar, who were the authors of the project, presented their solutions at several events: at an open exhibition for all pupils, teachers, parents and interested citizens, then as part of the Maker Faire Zagreb and Maker Faire Rome events, with numerous interested visitors from different parts of the world. The pupils demonstrated their projects and explained to the visitors about how they work and how they were implemented.  

The pupils presented their projects at the international innovation exhibition INOVA – BE THE ROLE MODEL, at which they won a gold medal for their Vukovar Water Tower project. There is no question that the concept of sustainable development plays an important role in the lives of all people, and to achieve this concept it is necessary to act and create a sustainable relationship towards others, ourselves and nature.  

Our contribution is reflected in inclusive and contemporary education and through the creation of innovative technological solutions that contribute to the achievement of the global Sustainable Development Goals. With the Vukovar Water Tower project we have shown how to apply technology to preserve and promote cultural heritage. The Vukovar water tower model was developed on a Prusa 3D printer, the LED band is connected to an Arduino MKR 1000 Wi-Fi and the entire system is managed using a Blynk application on a mobile device. This project preserves cultural heritage and strengthens a sense of identity while promoting respect for cultural diversity and human creativity.  

Furthermore, with the IoT4SDGs project we developed advanced and alternative methods to preserve water, air, and the environment, while achieving a sustainable harmony between ecology, health and industry. The project supports a combination of technical, technological, engineering and software activities with IoT technology.  

The Faculty of Education and Pedagogical Sciences of the University of Josip Juraj Strossmayer in Osijek announced the “Educate for the Future” competition and invited high school pupils from five Croatian counties to apply with projects promoting creativity and interdisciplinarity. The projects were required to combine content from one or more subjects in different scientific and/or artistic fields, to be chosen by the students. The Vukovar Water Tower project won first place to take the title of best secondary project, while ‘IoT4SDGs’ won second place in the competition.  

With a third project – Robotic Arm, we created a LEGO model of a prosthetic hand, capable of performing a wide range of jobs. Some of the benefits demonstrated include its relatively high speed of work, increased efficiency, longer working hours and the fact that it does not pollute the environment. It is also suitable for performing repetitive actions or tasks that are considered too monotonous, dirty or dangerous for humans.  

All three projects aimed at creating and programming ‘green’ technologies through eco-engineering workshops using Arduino, LEGO, IoT, 3D printing and the Blynk app. Through their activities, the pupils developed knowledge about the needs of the modern era at global and local levels, as well as about the diversity of nature, the need for sustainable management of natural assets, burden limits, human resources, and personal and shared responsibilities and rights. Through a series of meetings and by working hard the pupils were able to develop their own ‘green’ technologies that are fully functional and useful.  

The project activities carried out encouraged the development of creativity and innovation while promoting ethical behaviour and values. Through their creativity our pupils built a link with the economy, the labour market, and the regional community. They developed an entrepreneurial way of thinking and acting in everyday life and in their work. They also developed their self-confidence and determination to act sustainably. The project activities contributed in many ways to the development of knowledge in the field of sustainable development as well as STEM, as they are based on technological solutions that contribute to the achievement of the SDGs.