Learning future technology: Moscow study groups and programmes

Learning future technology: Moscow study groups and programmes
Robotics, programming, engineering are what Moscow school students are most interested in, according to their teachers. The education system is responding by shifting focus and offering 3D-modeling, prototyping and robotics study clubs. This Mos.ru report will describe the study groups in Moscow for students who have cutting-edge technology in their blood.

Programming is taught from the first year on, while robot design starts even earlier. Technology clubs are a place to learn about new technology, design engineering projects and to use the knowledge for practical needs.    

Where can students learn about new technology?

Technoparks work for kids  

Moscow students can assemble drones, learn the basics of nanotechnology and programming at “quantoriums” or children’s tech labs. The first quantorium opened at the Mosgormash Technopark in May 2016. Ten quantoriums are supposed to exist by late 2017.  

Quantoriums are for children 14 and older who are interested on robotics, cosmonautics, geo-informatics, aviation, industrial design, energy and nanotechnology. Moscow technical universities supervise these labs.

Around 450 students a year can attend classes at children’s tech centres. Quantoriums offer guided tours, weekend events, and have partner programmes with Moscow colleges.

Classes are not focuses entirely on practice. Students learn algorithmic thinking to be able to apply the skills they learn in various fields and work with various technologies. Companies need specialists like who can start right away with minimal on-the-job training.

New way to teach physics course

The New Way to Learn Physics programme was launched in Moscow last October. Carried out in 12 schools, its main base of operations is School No. 1788. Every other Saturday, 300 7- and 8-year students come here to attend lectures and then split into teams to conduct experiments and develop projects at the school laboratories.

“The students must passes all the production stages: first design a model car, make the model, print it using a 3D printer, and then defend the project,“ says Ella Alikbekova, Deputy Headmaster at School No. 1265.

An important part of the project is that the students work on real, “adult-life” equipment so that they can immerse themselves in the activity. University students are on hand to help the young students with equipment, and to clarify or set the goal of the experiment or project. University professors give lectures, and experts are creating educational guidelines and programmes for the project,  and developing teaching techniques, so that these materials can be used in similar projects across Russia.

Start PRO and University Saturdays

Many universities have technical clubs and study programmes. Moscow Pedagogical University has a continuing education institute that has set up a project centre, Start PRO, to teach 3D modelling, robotics, cosmonautics, electronics, and basic programming.  Seventy eight of the 100 study programmes at the centre are oriented towards technology.

The Moscow School Student’s Saturday project, which was launched in 2013, enjoys the support of 50 universities to offer a wide range of free and entertaining lectures and workshops, training sessions and seminars, held every Saturday at various universities across the city. Registration is open to anyone, while activities cover plenty of topics from flying cars to robotic sumo wrestling. School students can make mechanical warriors and virtual models.

In 2015/2016, 105,000 Moscow schools students took part in University Saturdays, where lectures and guided tours are rounded out by gaming experiences like quests and intellectual competitions. Participation is free, but students need to register on the program website.

For engineers and futures cosmonauts

Engineering and technology have proved a hot topic among Moscow students prompting the Moscow School Student’s Saturdays project to launch a standalone programme, Engineering Saturdays. These are held at technological centres under universities and at youth innovation centres and feature workshops, lectures and practical classes. Study options are numerous and include automated transport systems, to making materials for reactors and rockets, 3D modelling, black mater studies and so on.

Young students who are fascinated by the stars and galaxies are invited to take part in Space Saturdays. These meetings and guided tours serve to familiarize attendees with cutting-edge equipment and its production history, as well as with research and military designs. Last year, school students attended the Yu. A. Gagarin Space Training Centre in Star City, the Central House of Aviation and Cosmonautics, the Cosmonautics Museum, Moscow Aviation Institute and the Planetarium. This year, they toured the Central Air Force Museum in Monino, where they learned a lot of curious facts about aviation and space. Other tours are in store in the future.

For those who are undecided

Launched in 2013 at Moscow colleges, the “Profsreda” (Professional Environment) programme is an opportunity to learn about professions and trades that the city needs, and to encourage a career choice. Schools students and their parents can learn more about the professions in demand, and which to choose.

Visitors can try their hand at the trade mentioned during the event, and modern equipment is available.

Workshops are held on the most popular profession, including the hospitality industry, economics, education, medicine, surface transport, construction and design, IT, telecommunications, rare professions and manufacturing.

Do schools teach professional skills?

Yes. Moscow companies are interested in training professionals in specific areas, and so they invest in extracurricular education.

The Professional Education Without Limits programme, which launched in 2015 and unites 35 Moscow colleges, is an opportunity to earn a certificate of professional qualification while still in school. Training for professions that are currently in demand, including proof-reading, illustrator, advertising, bookbinding, photography and others, run parallel to normal daily classes. The programme is open to anyone including school students with disabilities, who are placed under the care of 23 Moscow colleges and universities that teach such trades as bookbinding, gardening, plumbing, jewellery-making and others.

Quantorium attendees can sign delayed contracts, and companies will take them on after they complete their secondary or higher education, and military service. By late 2016, 41 school and university students signed such contracts. Four more schools students, who were winners and runner-ups of the JuniorSkills regional competition, did so in March 2017.

Finding information on clubs and courses  

The number of extracurricular classes and clubs has doubled in Moscow in recent years. They have opened at schools, children’s art centres, music and art schools, and are attended by nearly 840,000 school students.  

Mos.ru has a section that can be used to choose clubs and study groups by age, location, course, working hours, or whether they are adapted for kids with disabilities. Search schools by number to find out whether it holds extracurricular classes.

The website also permits you to register for a club online. For this, send an online application with the child’s details. Teens 14 and older can submit an application personally. Registration is also open at schools that hold the extracurricular classes.

More information is available during open house days and the education fairs that take place at schools and universities in Moscow. 

How well is technology taught at schools?  

Moscow schools have a high-tech focus. Programming is taught from the first year on. At some schools, kids practice lego constructing with special sets featuring mechanisms and light and heat sensors. 

The Moscow E-School project combines cutting-edge IT solutions in education, including the electronic class registration, online personal record books, and a citywide library of digital books and other materials that the project is based on. All these features are already available to any school student. By late 2018, all schools will be equipped with what they need. 

The entire e-library can be accessed at uchebnik.mos.ru. Moscow teachers and education guideline specialists have already devised 11,000 teaching scenarios to be available online and re-accessed later at home if needed. 

Interactive whiteboards are linked to the e-library so teachers can add context and add colour to their explanations. All information on the board is simultaneously displayed on the student’s tablet. There no need for chalk since the board permits tactile drawing, a popular feature with today’s kids who are used to touch screens.