Modern programmes and future professions: Why schoolchildren choose children’s technology parks

February 2

In the course of a few years, children’s technology parks in Moscow have become real training centres for new-generation specialists. Here children can learn prospective technical and creative disciplines as well as develop their first inventions, ranging from a goalkeeping robot to interactive textbooks. Read this article to find out how children’s technology parks function and discover what schoolchildren are studying towards their professions of the future.

The first such platform opened in Moscow in 2016. Today there are 18, with almost every district of the city having at least one. They host 88 labs with cutting-edge equipment.

“This is one of the main elements of the city’s system of vocational guidance for children and teenagers. Since 2016, more than 280,000 Moscow schoolchildren have learnt something new in children’s technology parks. They provide 350 educational programmes in more than 40 areas, ranging from technical to creative. The training includes interactive lessons with theory, practical assignments and work on their own projects, individually or in a team,” said Deputy Moscow Mayor Natalya Sergunina.

From robotics to stained glass art

Education programmes include popular and prospective areas, such as robotics, ICT, VR/AR technologies, the internet of things, space exploration, bio- and nanotechnologies, car and aircraft design, geoinformatics, industrial design, 3D technologies, radio electronics and the creation of composite materials.

Schoolchildren not only study VR/AR technologies as a separate discipline but also use them in their studies. For example, Engineerium at the Bauman Moscow State Technical University (MSTU) uses its application “Virtual laboratory for the manufacture of products from polymer composite materials” as part of its online course. It has two versions: VR, using virtual reality glasses, and a standard one, which needs no special equipment. The application won the prize in the Virtual Reality category of the EdCrunch Award Product international competition of education technological products 2020.

In addition to technical specialties, children’s technology parks offer creative programmes, such as: At Zorge, which holds architecture, design and fashion classes; the technology park of the Moscow Polytechnic Institute’s Engineering Development Centre which offers courses in stained glass art and mosaics; Calibre, which offers training in animation; and the Science Town of the Moscow University of Finance and Law which gives classes on contemporary art. This trend is global: it is getting more difficult to imagine art, film and design without digital technology.

“From early childhood, every child develops by learning and creating; if a child likes to paint, they don’t have to become a painter: they can use their abilities in a wide range of jobs. Involving children in creative environments helps them define the vector of professional development,” noted Elvira Sukorskaya, Director General of the At Zorge Children’s Technology Park.

Partners’ representatives contribute to the development of the programme of the technology parks as well as taking part in the actual education process. Today there are 171 companies and 41 educational institutions, including leading universities such as MSTU, Moscow Aviation Institute, Mendeleev University of Chemical Technology of Russia and the National Research University Higher School of Economics.

For the youngest

One of the most important areas of the work of the children’s technology parks is the constant development of education opportunities for primary school students. Programmes for the youngest attendees are specially designed to be interesting to them (for example, lessons can be given in the form of games or quests).

“If back in 2016, the programmes of children’s technology parks were designed for those aged 12 or over, today six of the parks have regular programmes for children aged 6 or above. Even primary school children can learn various programming languages, game design, engineering, 3D modelling and biotechnologies,” said Head of Moscow’s Department of Entrepreneurship and Innovative Development Alexei Fursin.

Technology parks cooperate with popular entertainment projects to provide early career guidance so that children get training in professions that are in demand. Last June, a playground opened in the KidBurg children’s city of professions at the Central Children's Department Store aka Children’s World, where kids can take part in workshops covering nine disciplines.

In September 2020, children’s technology parks joined the First Class September social initiative implemented with the support of the Moscow Government. Every first-year schoolchild could visit one of the 15 extra-curricular education venues for free, and around 2,000 children chose technology parks.

Close to home and online

The concept of children's technology parks suggests as much accessibility as possible, which is why they can be found in all Moscow districts. Each of the branches has at least three laboratories focusing on different areas.

Since 2020, children's technology parks have been actively exploring cyberspace. They have successfully adapted to the new reality: they hold online courses and workshops in various areas. The technology parks have also broadened the range of educational formats used within their programmes: online lectures, science quizzes, quests, and live streams.

For example, the Engineerium at the Bauman Moscow State Technical University (MSTU) not only provides students and teachers with video and text guides but has also introduced simulations and virtual labs. A tool kit was sent to each child so that they could create their projects. The Scientific Town technology park suggested an Architecture Game, where participants were able to use an online map to learn the secrets of architectural styles from various parts of the world.

The online format drew a much wider audiences to the Moscow children’s technology parks. It attracted listeners from other Russian regions and abroad: Kazakhstan, Israel, the US and South Korea. In 2020, almost 40,000 schoolchildren joined online lessons.

Winner inventors

Participants in the courses of children’s technology parks not only study theory but also create their own projects, develop and present scientific and engineering solutions and learn teamwork and practical reasoning.

Thanks to the unique education system, schoolchildren regularly win large Olympiads and contests, such as Wordskills Russia Junior, Junior Composite Battle, VR and AR hackathon and the Moon Odyssey national contest of space projects. They were also awarded medals by the Moscow International Salon of Inventions and Innovative Technologies and the Young Inventor Prize.

Some of the projects by the Moscow schoolchildren are unusual and innovative, for example, they include an interactive geometry textbook, a transformable portable piano and a model of the Ostankino Tower with a built-in temperature recognition system, controlled ventilation and external illumination. And Engineerium pupils invented an underwater robot to carry out research in the Arctic and a wind generator powered by a solar battery. Children from the Kulibin Pro Industrial Park specialise in robots. They have already designed a football robot and a computer spaceship flight simulator.

In 2021, children’s technology parks will continue to develop and offer new interesting formats and education programmes in the most popular areas.


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