Advancing Digital Empowerment
of Libraries in Europe

EU Code Week in Bulgarian Libraries

From 8 to 23 October, libraries across Bulgaria put on programmes of events as part of EU Code Week 2022. Activities were led by Sofia City Library and regional libraries in Targovishte, Dobrich, Yambol, Blagoevgrad, Gabrovo, Rousse and Vratsa.

Many libraries organised sessions with Bee-Bot robots, in which young children take their first steps in programming. Children move these robots around a large thematic board using buttons with specific commands (forward, backward, left spin, right spin, pause, erase). In this way, they consolidate their knowledge of direction, develop spatial awareness, and learn more about the subjects incorporated into the trainings such as recycling, the look and value of coins, and daily routines. Encouraging such algorithmic and spatial ways of thinking at an early age is a good foundation for continuing coding activities in the future.

Another robot suitable for very young children is Marty, specifically designed to help little ones learn coding in an easy and fun way. It has interactive sensors that determine its position, angle, proximity and strength, and has a built-in speaker. Using the Scratch, Python or JavaScript programmes, Marty can talk, make sounds, feel, and even shake hands. The soft design allows it to walk, dance, roll and kick. Over 100 children in schools in Rousse were introduced to this robot in demonstrations by coding specialists.

Older children interacted with the Finch and Ruko robots. Primarily aimed at elementary school children, Finch can also be used by teenagers and university students taking their first steps into programming. The robots are easy to control and navigate and can be programmed to move and glow different colours. In Sofia Central Library, children practiced coding with these robots and the Scratch and Snap programmes. They also enjoyed workshops on 3D modelling and virtual reality. In total, 128 young people between the ages of 4 and 25 took part in trainings in Sofia, and 20 school librarians participated in a special seminar on ‘Libraries as spaces for STEM games’.

Not all activities used digital technology. In Vratsa, 80 secondary-school pupils from the Kozma Trichkov School and the Vocational High School of Commerce and Restaurant Management took part in the non-device based coding board game, “Game of Codes”. The young future programmers were encouraged to think outside the box and assemble a puzzle with just a few commands. This task stimulated participants to think broadly and come up with non-standard solutions applicable to real life. Art history was incorporated into the event as the completed puzzles were of Van Gogh and Dali paintings. The students were then given books about these artists from the library’s collection.

The aim of all of the activities during Code Week 2022 was to develop the logical, strategic, critical thinking, imaginative and computer skills of young people in a non-formal educational environment, thereby contributing to their interest in programming, and in technology, engineering and mathematics more broadly. The events were a great success, and all who took part look forward to incorporating more coding activities into their learning in the future.

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