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SPARK’s project Science Overcomes Prejudice has started

By donating STEM equipment to eight high schools in Mostar, SPARK has officially started the project: Science Overcomes Prejudice. The project is funded by a grant from the Embassy of the USA to Bosnia and Herzegovina. 

Representatives of SPARK, Mrs Matea Vučić Markić and Mrs Anamarija Soldo have visited the schools and handed over educational robots and different STEM equipment. This donation is a valuable addition to the IT school labs, and it will improve the quality of the education process. 

The ultimate goal of the project is to give students necessary tools and equipment which will help them to develop creativity, information literacy and STEM skills – and all this within the regular school curriculum. 

By participating in STEM projects, students will learn to function in a team and develop collaborative skills and social intelligence. 

“This project is a perfect example of a collaboration between NGO and government sector. We are very honoured to be chosen for this project by the representatives of the US Embassy to BiH. This project, Science Overcomes Prejudice, is the embodiment of SPARK’s mission: promotion of STEM education, development of creative problem-solving and knowledge sharing. In eight schools that participate in the project, we have found excellent partners. They have offered the full support to the project,” commented Mrs Vučić Markić.

She also announced the second phase of the project – educational workshops. Over 80 students from the schools mentioned above will take participation in them. A STEM Day is planned as a final project activity where the representatives of the schools will hold presentations. 

All activities will be held according to the recommendations given by the authorities and according to actual COVID-19 situation. 

Disclaimer:

“This article is on the project Science Overcomes Prejudice, and it was funded by a grant from the United States Department of State. The opinions, findings and conclusions stated herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the United States Department of State”.

An Introduction to Project Management Basics

There is this one person in a company that covers tasks in a different area and is included in various processes. Very often, people say: You might be a project manager, especially if they are not quite sure what does the person actually do. Besides, classical operations are sometimes mixed with projects. What is a project, who is a project management and what set of skills does the person need?  

What is a project? 

According to the PMI-u (Project Management Institute), a project is a temporary activity, as it has its beginning and an end so as a scope and resources. To distinguish projects from operations ( day-to-day activities), it has to have a unique set of operations designed to accomplish a unique goal. A project team might include different people, sometimes from more than one organization. 

What is project management?

Project management is managing various resources and aspects of a project in order to get the desired outcome or result within the defined timeframe, scope and budget. All those factors have to be determined at the beginning in the initiation phase so that all stakeholders and team members have a common understanding of the process, methodology and desired outcome. Project management is an integral part of every business, no matter if the company is a startup or big corporation. 

The lifecycle of a project

Every project has something in common, and those are the phases, to name a few: 

#1 Initiation

#2 Planning

#3 Execution

#4 Monitoring and Controlling

#5 Closing

Every step includes certain activities and dedicated team members. Key requires for a successful project: 

#1 Time (duration of the project)

#2 Expenditures (agreed budget)

#3 Scope (results to get)

#4 Quality (project outcome)

Skills and role of Project Manager

Project Managers have a great responsibility. They guide, monitor and control projects from the beginning till the end. They have to define the roles of other project members and be in charge all the time. It often happens that something goes wrong, and the Project Manager is there to make the right decisions and adjust to a new situation. 

The list of skills that makes a good project manager is quite long. Nevertheless, here are some of the desired qualities: people skills, leadership, efficient communication ( oral and written), negotiation skills, conflict management, planning, problem-solving, creative thinking and time management. 

We in SPARK have recognized the importance of Project Management role. That’s why we have the workshop dedicated to future Project Managers. You can learn the basics of project management but also get to know the methodology of IT project management.  

Meet and Code 2020 – SPARK edition

Did you know that there is a European initiative whose goal is to extend the knowledge of tech and programming among youth? It is Meet and Code initiative supported by SAPHaus des Stiftens gGmbH and local partners, members of TechSoup Europe network. Despite the pandemic, the organizers have received 1,730 applications for online events in 35 European countries. During the course of September and October, SPARK has organized four events that were part of the Meet and Code initiative. 

#1 Code IT girl!

Code IT Girl gathered 43 girls from junior high and high schools. Younger girls got the chance to learn Scratch, a visual programme language suitable for kids. The attendees have shown their solutions for simple math challenges, quizzes, formulas, as well as games and animations. High school students got the chance to learn the basics of Python. They have learned the basic concepts that can be applied in learning any other programme language. The specifics of Python programme language is that it’s easy to understand, even for those who don’t have any previous experience in programming.  

#2 Python for College Students

Very often, tech students are not familiar with the basic concepts of programming. Lack of that basic knowledge backfires, so students lose motivation and often they are not able to keep up with the curriculum.  

It necessitates extra tuition. Sometimes, that knowledge gap is so deep that students quit as they are not able to pass programming. 

To prevent that from happening, we have created a dedicated curriculum for students. Forty-six students participated in these workshops and successfully passed the final exam. 

#3 My First Website

On Thursday, 22nd of October, a two-hour online workshop on web design was held. The participants could learn how to create a simple static web site. Over 50 participants were present and got the basic knowledge of HTML, CSS, and other useful tools. With the workshop, we wanted to show that web design isn’t just for brilliant minds, but for everyone who is ready to learn.

#4 Women in Tech meetup #1: Becoming an IT girl

Over 80 participants had a chance to meet four successful women and to hear their stories. Esma Hodžić (Junior Quality Assurance Engineer, NSoft), Iva Đikić (Managing Director, Rolla App), Saldina Nurak (Software Engineer and YT Content Creator) and Ana Sović (SVP of Business Operations, NSoft) talked about their IT career paths. The meetup took place on the 30th of October. It is 11th meetup organized by SPARK, and the first one dedicated exclusively to women. 

Meet and Code project and mentioned events have enabled SPARK to fulfil its mission: knowledge sharing and STEM promotion. SPARK has proven to be trustworthy. A great audience has participated in the events, even though all the events were online. The success of this year’s events organized under the Meet and Code umbrella leaves us confident to plan the continuation of the cooperation in 2021 as well.