Reaching its third year of implementation, the Contest gathers universities, research centres, NGOs, regional and local governments from all Greek regions.
Organised by the Open Technologies Alliance (GFOSS), with the support of the Ministry of Education and the Onassis Foundation (which focuses mainly on education, culture and health), and co-organised by universities, research centers, regions, municipalities and organisations from all over Greece, the Panhellenic Contest Open Technologies in Education reached its third year of implementation.
The initiative aims to bring students and teachers at all levels, from kindergarten to secondary education, closer to the realm of open technologies. By centring the Competition on the use of Open Source (OS) software and hardware as well as open educational resources, the main goal of the project is not only to raise awareness about the world of Open Source, but also to improve cooperation within the education community by enabling participatory and project-based learning. The principal expected result is a general enhancement of the S.T.E.M. (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) related knowledge amongst students and teachers in the first place, as well as developing a strong network within the education community and creating a repository of educational resources.
Applicants are asked to build innovative solutions by using the OS equipment (Arduino, Raspberry Pi, sensors, open hardware boards, ESP32, etc.) provided by the organisers, and share their ideas as well as educational material on Github repositories, so that they can be re-used by other schools and organisations. In most cases, the students have submitted videos and valuable educational resources (included in blog posts) explaining their idea and its implementation, thus leading to a general improvement in the know-how amongst the community as a whole.
The Competition was launched for the first time in 2019. During its first year, every idea was welcomed, regardless of the thematic focus. 270 school teams participated, and 104 teams were qualified to the final national phase. Considering the large involvement of the Greek education community in the project, the organisers decided to set up a theme for any following year. In 2020, the topic was climate change. If the number of participants was slightly lower than the previous year (244 school teams applied), a remarkable improvement in the quality of the applications has been registered. In fact, 234 teams reached the final phase, making the project a success.
EcoFarmBot - an automated crop irrigation device.
Given the success of the initiative, the Greek Ministry of Education is backing the implementation of the Competition. The high-level support is crucial to fuel a broad engagement with the project amongst the community. “Having the support of the Ministry of Education has been instrumental not only because it gives credibility to the initiative, but also because it supports the promotion of the principles of OS software and hardware and open education in the Hellenic educational system and in the education community”, said Despina Mitropoulou, Director at GFOSS.
Apart from the involvement of the Ministry, regional and local administrations, as well as organisations such as the ONASSIS Foundation, provide financial aid to sustain and support the initiative.
This year's theme is Artificial Intelligence, and the final proposals submission date has been set for 16 March. So far, around 60 applications have been submitted by the school teams. “Receiving around 150 applications will be considered a success per se”, stated Despina, “given the challenges that the community is facing as a result of the current public health crisis”.
For more information on the timeline of the 2021 Competition, please click here.