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As we head into the second half of 2021, it’s a good moment to share a few updates on our latest Co.Lab activities and how, even remotely, we’re still bringing STEM education to students. What’s new you might ask? It’s the evolution. We’re continuing the evolution that began last year out of necessity brought on by the pandemic. What started as in-person events focused on one group of students, has shifted to encompass virtual learning workshops, self-service options that empower individuals to run their own workshops and kits that bring the experience home. No matter where a student lives or the situation they are in, they can benefit from the program and have the opportunity to learn. 

In case you need a refresher, Co.Lab, presented by Open Source Stories, is a learning experience that introduces young students to the power of collaboration, community and open source. Using open hardware and open source methodologies, Red Hat mentors teach students why being open is a better way to work together and a more effective way to solve problems. Since its launch in 2017, Co.Lab primarily existed as in-person events that shared the principles of open source and collaboration with more than 700 middle school students in 12 countries. 

Come into our workshop

Since the year began, we have been conducting workshops in a variety of locations. The goal of a Co.Lab workshop is always the same: to reinforce the benefits of open source, to teach students how to collaborate to solve problems and to share their knowledge with others as contributions. Here’s a couple that we’ve hosted recently:

In Virginia, we hosted a virtual LED kit workshop with Dumbarton School. What made this engagement special is that because it is a Title One school; many of their students speak English as their second language. We mixed things up this time instead of doing all the talking ourselves. During the first workshop, Red Hat volunteers taught a small group of students who, in turn, taught a group of their peers the same material during the following workshop.  Paying it forward indeed! 

We conducted a workshop in Madrid with the Colegio Arquitecto Gaudí, where our instructors taught a group of 15 students how to build their own mini farm using open source technology. 

The whole kit and caboodle

Have you seen our Co.Lab kits? We can confidently say they’re fun for the whole family. Currently there are four different kits to choose from: Robot Kit, which allows you to build your own robot; Farm Kit, which helps you create a mini farm; Light Sensing Kit, which uses light to power a fan; and the newest kit, the Conversation Machine Kit.

The Conversation Machine Kit enables you to build an open source visual communication device using LEDs and push buttons. First, it teaches you how breadboards work through experimenting with simple circuits. Second, you can explore how to design a device to help communicate ideas and feelings by experimenting with unique coded messages and ideas based on lights and patterns. This kit launched at Red Hat Summit 2021 and was aligned with our upcoming documentary film from Open Source Stories, Cracking the Textbook, that examines how students can be more successful when using open source textbooks.

We’re just getting started, stay tuned to our webpage to keep up to date on the next kit’s release and other Co.Lab news. Also the chance to bring home your own Co.Lab swag, which will be rolling out in the Red Hat Cool Stuff Store later this year. 

About the author

Red Hat is the world’s leading provider of enterprise open source software solutions, using a community-powered approach to deliver reliable and high-performing Linux, hybrid cloud, container, and Kubernetes technologies.

Red Hat helps customers integrate new and existing IT applications, develop cloud-native applications, standardize on our industry-leading operating system, and automate, secure, and manage complex environments. Award-winning support, training, and consulting services make Red Hat a trusted adviser to the Fortune 500. As a strategic partner to cloud providers, system integrators, application vendors, customers, and open source communities, Red Hat can help organizations prepare for the digital future.

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