Robotics and collaboration – a week in Komotini, Greece

Between 6th and 13th of October, we visited Proto gymnasio school in Komotini, Greece as part of Kõrveküla Basic School’s Erasmus+ project „Through robotics and collaboration to the successful citizens of the 21st century” (Robootika ja koostöö kaudu 21. sajandi edukateks kodanikeks). Five students and two teachers from IES Schamann school in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria in Spain also joined us in Greece.

Our travels began in the evening of the 5th of October when we took the bus from Tartu to Tallinn airport. Our overnight flight took us to Athens where we arrived at 7am in the morning, leaving us a whole day to explore the sights in Athens. We started our sightseeing trip at the Syntagma square in front of the Parliament building. Our next stop was the Acropolis, where we spent most of our day exploring the area. All these constructions, especially the pillars, seemed huge to us! The views from the Acropolis to the city down below were magnificent. Later, when we were walking in the city we saw many exotic trees as well as palm trees. In the evening, we headed back to the airport where we took a plane to Alexandroupolis. Our friends from Spain took the same flight with us. All our hosts and local teachers were waiting for us at the airport when we arrived. They had a huge bus that took us to Komotini in an hour.

On Sunday, on the 7th of October, after some well-needed sleep, we visited the local military museum in the mountains near Komotini in the Norther Part of Greece (not very far from the Bulgarian border). The large museum building was shaped like a reverse pyramid in the ground. The museum had a large ancient weapon display that highlighted the cleverness and smartness of the Greeks very well. Later, we familiarized ourselves with the city of Komotini and took a leisurely stroll in the Agia Paraskevi park, explored the central square, visited local mosques and saw the clock tower.

On Monday, on the 8th of October we were welcomed at the Proto gymnasio Komotini school. The school day starts with a communal prayer in which everybody at the school participated in. After that the students and teachers headed to classrooms. After a quick tour of the school we headed to the computer lab and spent most of our day there. We helped our Greek friends prepare for the FLL (First Lego League) competition, worked with FLL pads and solved challenges.  The competition was introduced to us by our Greek friends, because they participate every year. It was very strange for us that the students did not eat their lunch at school. Instead, they went home to have lunch. At the end of this eventful day we managed to squeeze in a visit to the Komotini archaeology museum as well as a local business called Prisma Electronics to have a look at the manufacturing process of electronic chips.

On Tuesday, on the 9th of October, we spent the morning working hard in the computer lab solving different FLL challenges. In the afternoon, we visited the city of Xanthi. Our trip took us to a local hobby school where we learned to our delight that one of their teams has visited Estonia and participated in a local Robotex competition. Later, we had an amazing opportunity to see different robotic development opportunities at a local university. It was great to see a working drone built by the local students.

On Wednesday, on the 10th of October, we drove to the city of Kavala, where we participated in the Nationwide Industrial Informatics Festival. There were so many great opportunities to see and try out various technological contraptions. Whilst in the area we also visited the antique city of Philippi, where we wandered at the ruins, and were fascinated by the stories about the city, told by a local guide. Our last stop there was a five-star hotel that used to be an Imaret. The place was magnificent and offered an opportunity to take picture of the gorgeous sunset overlooking Kavala city.

On Thursday, on the 11th of October, we finished up our FLL (First Lego League) tasks. All the teams had a chance to demonstrate their work and the robots they built. In the evening we were organised a farewell party at the school. Being indoors was great, because whilst the temperatures during the day were nice and warm (20ᴼ-24ᴼ C), the weather after the sunset was quite chilly. We very much enjoyed the local songs and dances as well as the delicious snacks and local dishes.

On Friday, the 12th of October we headed to Thessaloniki in the morning. The drive there took us about 3 hours. In Thessaloniki we first participated in a robotics workshop and then headed to the White Tower of Thessaloniki which is a famous monument and museum on the waterfront of the city of Thessaloniki. We enjoyed the beautiful sights from the top of the tower. Then it was time for a quick lunch at a local shopping centre and we had to say our goodbyes. Our Estonian group was taken to Thessaloniki airport, while our Greek and Spanish friends headed back to Komotini.

On Saturday, the 13th of October. We flew from Thessaloniki to Riga. After landing at the Riga airport we took a local bus to the bus station in the city centre where we could take an international line to Tartu bus station. The week-long adventure went fast. There were many wonderful meetings, it was great to explore Greek culture and traditions and our host families were so friendly and caring. We made many new friends from both Greece and Spain. There were so many positive surprises! Both the teachers and the students were happy with this trip and we hope that we will have another chance to meet up in the near future.

Students from Kõrveküla Basic School Säde Einasto, Mariann Matteus, Marten Teska, Karli Joorits ja Ralf Paat, and teachers Juta Laane and Einar Nõmme.

Happy travellers at Acropolis of Athends (author: Juta Laane)
In front of the Komotini Archaeology Museum (author: Juta Laane)
Prisma Electronics (author: Juta Laane)
Philippi ancient theatre (author: Juta Laane)
At the computer lab at Komotini school (author: Juta Laane)
On the top of the White Tower of Thessaloniki (author: Juta Laane)
Estonian travellers on the top of the White Tower of Thessaloniki (author: Juta Laane)

Robotics and collaboration – One week in Kõrveküla Põhikool with visitors from Greece and Spain

From the 5th to the 13th of May students and teachers from Proto gymnasio Komotinis located at Komotini, Greece, as well as students and teachers from IES Schamann located in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria visited Kõrveküla Põhikool as part of the Erasmus+ project „Through robotics and collaboration to the successful citizens of the 21st century”. The visitors were hosted by local families.

On the 6th of May we visited Endla Nature Reserve with our guests from Greece, where we used LEGO robots to carry out a series of tests and measurements. The visitors were thrilled by the surroundings – a natural bog with plenty of fallen trees that were the result of our hardworking local beavers. Visitors from Spain arrived in the evening. On the 7th of May we had a tour in our schoolhouse as well as an excursion in Tartu city. Everybody learned new things about our school and home town. The visitors enjoyed it immensely. Students form Kõrveküla Põhikool introduced the usage of LEGO Mindstorms EV3 robots in classrooms. Students created lesson plans that integrated subject matter with robotics. A demo music lesson was conducted where the usage of programming and note sheets created a beautiful musical piece ‘Juba linnukesed’. The workshop that followed was aimed at creating lesson plans that would include usage of robotics in the classroom setting.

On the 8th of May we visited University of Tartu where we learned more about the study opportunities the university offers. Furthermore, we had a unique opportunity to visit the Internet of Things lab. The lab is made up of smart home and smart office environments. Many thanks to Mattias Jõesaar from the Institute of Computer Science at Tartu University. We also visited Tartu Tamme Gymnasium, where we participated in a workshop that focused on electricity. The workshop was organised and conducted by local students. The workshop captivated our visitors interest.

On the 9th of May, we headed to Tallinn to visit Tallinn University of Technology’s Centre for Biorobotics. The centre focuses on conducting multidisciplinary research on the borderline of biology and engineering including underwater robotics, artificial muscles, self-learning and self-adapting robots. This was an exciting visit. We would like to express our gratitude to Gert Tomingas for introducing us to his colleagues and their work at the centre. After our visit, we took a walk in Tallinn old town which the guests also enjoyed. We also visited Energy Discovery Centre, where we could see lightning with our own eyes as well as try out many interesting exhibits on our own. The evening was concluded by celebrating Europe Day at Freedom Square and listening to a speech by Kersti Kaljulaid who is the fifth and current President of Estonia.

On the 10th of May we attended AHHAA’s Science Theatre show that was both spectacular and educational. We also had a chance to explore the exhibition at Ahhaa Science Centre. All the visitors were satisfied with the experience and expressed their opinion that the exhibit was delightful and the centre offered much to discover. The afternoon was spent building remote controlled cars – because of our groupwork four remote controlled cars were made that we could control with our smartphones. A quick racing event was held that everyone enjoyed immensely. It was a lot of fun!

In the morning of the 11th of May we created a robot theatre. Our groupwork resulted in recreating snippets from famous plays with robots. After the theatrics we visited Lähte Gymnasium’s 3D printing room. We were familiarised with product design processes and our visitors got their own robots printed.  It was so much fun that it was hard to leave. Many thanks to headmaster Üllar Loks, computer science and robotics teacher Toivo Reitalu and physics teacher Erich Virk from Lähte Gymnasium. Afterwards we enjoyed splendid Estonian landscapes from Paalalinna lookout which lifted our guets’ spirits. The evening was concluded with a heartfelt farewell dinner. All the local families who hosted the guests as well as our dear guests were united in this joyful event with plenty of samples from local cuisine accompanied with folk music of this region performed by Väägvere folk music band.

On the12th of May we said our goodbyes to the Greeks. Instead of the airport, we headed back to Endla Nature Reserve with our Spanish guests. There we conducted several experiments with LEGO robots and we completed the hiking trail part of which was rather extreme.

On the 13th of May we bid farewell to our Spanish guests.

The week passed too fast. There were many interesting meetings and learning experiences – we learned many things about other nationalities’ culture and traditions. There were many positive surprises! Both our Greek and Spanish guests were happy to have this wonderful opportunity to visit Estonia and they hope to return soon.

Students from Kõrvekül Põhikool Grete Paat, Marta Roosimaa, Triin Visnapuu, Eleriin Ojakäär, Henri Treier and Reigo Joorits and teachers Juta Laane, Annika Teska and Einar Nõmme.

Our Greek guests at Endla Nature Reserve

Happy hikers

Stopping to carry out experiments at the lookout

Europe Day at Freedum Square in Tallinn

Car race

3D Printing workshop at Lähte Gymnasium

Farewell party at Kõrveküla

Students form Kõrveküla Põhikool at Gran Canaria Island

From the 10th to the 17th of December ninth grade students Grete Paat, Marta Roosimaa, Henri Treier ja Reigo Joorits and teachers Juta Laane, Annika Teska and Einar Nõmme form Kõrveküla Põhikool visited Gran Canaria as part of their Erasmus+ project. The host was IES Schamann school in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria city. In addition to Estonians and Spanish, the project participants were also from Komotini, Greece (school named Proto gymnasio Komotinis).

The topic of the event was robotics. The activities included programming, reading of electrical schematics and building submarines. The meeting place was the local school which was completely different from our school: the windows had bars, the students had to leave the school building during breaks and the school bell sounded like a fire alarm. The school also provided education for special needs students,

During our free time, we got to explore the city with Spaniards and Greeks, do sightseeing, enjoy the beach and we also got a chance to go swim in the ocean. Although the temperature was 20 degrees Celsius, the locals were wearing what we would call winter clothes: big scarves, hats and winter coats. We were hosted by local families. The local people were very lively, some would even call them boisterous. They were open-mind and joyous. We were surprised by how calmly everything was conducted in there and how being late for everything was the most natural thing in the world. They eat an incredible amount of white bread too. We also got a chance to try the local cuisine.

From the 6th until the 13th of May we had a wonderful opportunity to host visitors from Greece and Spain. In Autumn, students from our school had the chance to visit Greece. The trip was amazing. In addition to making loads of new friends and practice our language skills, we also gained valuable knowledge and strengthened our collaboration skills.

Grete Paat, Marta Roosimaa, Henri Treier ja Reigo Joorits

City excursion at Las Palmas de Gran Canaria

Learning about various underwater robots

Joyful meeting at school

In the Submarine

Through robotics and collaboration to the successful citizens of the 21st century

This Autumn second educational collaboration Erasmus+ project started at Kõrveküla Põhikool. The project is called „Through robotics and collaboration to the successful citizens of the 21st century”. The project began on the 1st of September 2017 and will run until 31st of August 2019.

Three schools will participate:

  • Kõrveküla Põhikool (Estonia – coordinator)
  • Proto gymnasio Komotinis (Komotini, Greece)
  • IES Schamann (Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain)

The aim of this project is to share the experiences of using robotics in learning processes with the project partners. We have all used various robotics equipment and platforms in school. Now it is time to share our knowledge, experiences and success stories with others. We are united in our common interest in robotics. It is important to share our best practices and successes aongst different countries in order to develop new techniques. Both teachers and students will benefit from this project’s ideas, thoughts and techniques that fulfil the project’s purpose – to learn from each other. This is a great example of collaboration with other schools on a European-wide level.

 

Timeline:

October 2017: project meeting in Kõrveküla, Estonia. Coordinators from schools will be present.

December 2017: project meeting and international learning and teaching experience (6days) in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. Four students + two teachers + coordinators from Kõrveküla Põhikool and Proto gymnasio Komotinis.

May 2018: project meeting and international learning and teaching experience (6days) in Kõrveküla, Estonia. Five students + two teachers + coordinators from Proto gymnasio Komotinis and IES Schamann.

Autumn 2018: project meeting and international learning and teaching experience (6days) in Komotini Greece. Five students + two teachers + coordinators from Kõrveküla Põhikool and IES Schamann.

June 2019: project meeting in Kõrveküla, Estonia. Coordinatords from schools will be present.

Ninth grade students from Kõrveküla Põhikool Grete Paat, Marta Roosimaa, Henri Treier and Reigo Joorits share their experiences and describe the international learning and teaching activities they took part in.

 

Juta Laane

Erasmus+ project coordinator at Kõrveküla Põhikool