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HP Labs researchers pilot a novel education platform at “Superhero School”


Contributed by Simon Firth, freelance technology journalist




Researchers from HP Labs recently taught a pair of coding classes at “STEAM LEADS,”a pilot STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) enrichment program for middle school students offered by the Cupertino Library in Cupertino, California.


Led by HP Printing and Content Lab senior research scientist Rares Vernica, the workshops were part of set of activities built around the subject of honey bees in which students were challenged to “bee a Superhero” by learning about the value and vulnerability of the important pollinators.


For the HP-led classes, all the instructional materials were built on and delivered through HP METIS, a hybrid learning platform being developed by HP Labs.


“We’ve designed HP METIS so that teachers can easily create content in both physical and digital book forms,” explains Vernica.


“Each medium offers distinct advantages for learning,” he adds, “but with METIS, each kind of content is also tightly interconnected, so students can easily go from physical to digital and then back to physical as they wish. Moreover, having demonstration videos linked to each page is especially helpful in a coding class.”


As well as learning more about bees, the young teens got to try out Scratch, a programming language developed by MIT Media Lab researchers specifically for novice computer programmers.


For each class, students were offered a free digital and printed book and an account on HP METIS. In addition, they could access demonstration videos that were linked to their physical book through HP Link technology.


“The workshops were a lot of fun for us to create and run, and we got some very positive feedback from the students,” Vernica reports. “Just as importantly, though, this was another chance for us to extend our understanding of how print and digital learning interconnect.”


“Rares was a fantastic presenter, and was both engaging and patient with the kids,” adds Clare Varesio, Children’s Supervising Librarian with the Cupertino Library. “The creation of the class book was an added bonus, as it allowed the kids to continue to work with Scratch and the content Rares created after the workshop. We look forward to having Rares back at Cupertino Library for future programs, and are excited to see what else he can develop for our patrons.”


The research team behind HP METIS have also run successful educational pilots with San Jose State University and Gunn High School in Palo Alto, California and are now exploring further research opportunities in U.K., Israel, and China.



 HP Labs senior research scientist Rares Vernica teaching a coding class at the Cupertino Library.

About the Author



I am the Senior Strategist for Enterprise Services State, Local and education division.  I would love to hear more about the HP METIS research and project in supporting Education. 

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