It’s a sunny afternoon on a school playground, and a class is having a science lesson. There are a few dozen children, some birdcages, a few sparrows...and an observation camera controlled by a nano-computer that the children are using to collect and share data with scientists.
This is XperiBIRD.be, an initiative of the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences. It will provide small modular computers to schoolchildren between the ages of 10 and 14 throughout Belgium. Pupils will learn to build and install simple Raspberry Pi computers and infrared cameras in birdcages, then use them to collect information and actively contribute to scientific research. Along the way, XperiBIRD.be will be giving the children an introduction to computer science and other STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields.
STEM subjects are increasingly important for our economy — the number of technology-related jobs continues to grow. But these vacancies are proving difficult to fill, which is why we’re excited to support XperiBIRD.be in its entirety with a Google.org grant of over €650,000. Since it makes programming less abstract (and more fun), XperiBIRD.be is an ideal way to spark children’s interest in digital skills — an interest that might inspire them to become technologists and scientists. It’s one more way that we’re working to be a Growth Engine for digital skills, unlocking people’s digital potential through computer science programs.