Croatian Makers - 2019 in review

IRIM’s reach – more than 200,000 pupils and 3,000 teachers in Croatia!


December 30, 2019

This year we celebrated our 5th birthday and the 4th anniversary of starting our first project, the Croatian Makers Robotics League.

If someone had told us when we were starting that we would create the biggest extracurricular ecosystem of STEM projects in Europe, we wouldn’t have believed it – but project by project, year after year, we reached more than 200,000 pupils and more than 3,000 teachers just in Croatia and made a positive mindset change.

Our 2018 yearly overview can be found here, and 2017 here (all links are on Croatian, we suggest using auto-translate) To keep this brief we will emphasize only the key topics and projects from 2019:

  • Croatian Makers Robotics League
  • Advanced Robotics Competition MakeX
  • World Adolescent Robotic Championship (WARC)
  • Service Learning: STEM Revolution in the Community
  • STEM Revolution in Grades 1 to 4
  • Digital Libraries for Local Development
  • Digital Citizen
  • Junior Engineer Academy Network Croatia
  • Generation NOW
  • STEM Car
  • Cooperation with the SOS Children’s Village
  • Participation in other projects
  • Izradi! (Make!) Educational Website
  • Donations

Croatian Makers Robotics League

The League entered it’s 5th year of implementation. With more than 550 educational institutions involved and a reach to about 12,000 pupils in Croatia and with about 800 institutions involved in the neighbouring countries the League has become the biggest project of its kind in Europe.

We keep improving and adding new content to the League so that all the participants have the possibility to gain new knowledge. In the academic year 2018/2019 we enriched the League with color, temperature and humidity sensors, and so far in the 2019/2020 we have donated robotic grippers that we designed and produced ourselves. Through a STEM car project cycle with the financial support of Google through their Educator Grant we educated all the teachers involved in the project and created new possibilities for them to gain knowledge in the STEM fields. Read more here.

We organized the League Superfinal – a competition for the best teams in the 2018/2019 school year and more than 75 teams from all over Croatia participated. Read more here.

Our team has developed Neuron – a simple and centralized web app for managing the League that lowers the amount of administrative work teachers do to be involved in the League. We also donated the system to our partners in Kosovo.

The League has been financially supported by the foundation “Hrvatska za djecu”, the Ministry of science and education and Google.

Advanced Robotics Competition MakeX

MakeX is a world competition in advanced educational robotics that promotes learning within the fields of science and technology, fostering collaboration, interdisciplinary approach and the orientation to real life problem solving. The competition is based on the same technology used in the Croatian Makers league.

We organized the European open MakeX championship in Zagreb with more than 100 teams competing that had over 200 team members. Read more here.

The best teams won the tickets to the World MakeX championship held in China. Our teams achieved great results – most of them entered the top 50 world teams, and the best team from Croatia was ranked 5th in the world. Read more here.

The Advanced robotics competition MakeX project was financed by the foundation “Hrvatska za djecu”.

World Adolescent Robotic Championship (WARC)

WARC is a festival in youth robotics that brings together more than 400 pupils and their mentors from more than 20 countries. WARC gives the participants a chance to show their talents, programming and robotics skills in a few different categories.

IRIM, as the organizer of the MakeX competition, had been given the opportunity to invite two teams from Croatia to the competition – the team from elementary schools “Josip Antun Čolnić” from Đakovo finished in 17th place and the team from the Association of technical culture from Osijek was the best international team and finished in the 8th place in the overall rankings. The same team won a special ‘Best modification award’, awarded to the team with the best engineering modifications on the robot. Read more here and here.

Service learning: STEM Revolution in the Community

Through a joint project with the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing in Zagreb, the Faculty of Organization and Informatics in Varaždin and the Karlovac University of Applied Sciences we have developed service learning programs through which their students joined IRIM’s projects by creating educational materials and holding workshops for pupils.

More than 50 students engaged in IRIM’s projects, 25 STEM lab open days were organized to present the STEM field to the general public, a robotic camp was organized for the best pupils from the Croatian Makers league and an expert conference on the topic of service learning was held.

Read more here and here. A video presentation of the project is available here.

The project was financed through European union ESF funding. Even though the project formally ended, the collaboration between IRIM and the faculties continues, and the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences in Zagreb also joined.

STEM Revolution in Grades 1 to 4

IRIM in collaboration with Rotary District 1913 and the Rotary Club Zagreb Center piloted a project for the development of digital literacy in school grades 1 to 4.

The pilot started in March 2019, with the participation of 57 schools from Virovitičko-podravska, Osječko-baranjska and Vukovarsko-srijemska county. IRIM donated micro:bit educational microcomputers for the pupils in the schools involved, educated the teachers and developed educational materials on how to use the micro:bit within the existing school curriculum. More than 150 teachers and 250 pupils were involved in the pilot.

This project makes Croatia the first country in the world to integrate digital literacy teaching through the use of physical computing from the beginning of elementary school education. Read more here and here.

Digital Libraries for Local Development

Building on our successful projects in libraries we have found partners in Switzerland to introduce the projects we have been running in the Croatian libraries as a pilot in 5 libraries in Switzerland. Furthermore, we will jointly develop equipment and educational materials to introduce Citizen Science to libraries in both countries.

Educational citizen science sets will be donated to the libraries – one kit per library will be installed to continuously measure ecological variables, and two more kits will be available for borrowing and joining the citizen science project. Through this project we want to empower children and adults to become active citizens through gaining knowledge in the STEM field and strengthening their digital competencies thus enabling them to become knowledge creators and sustainable development facilitators in their communities. Read more here.

This project is financed by the Switzerland confederations through a Swiss-Croatian cooperation program.

Digital Citizen

We have transformed libraries in Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo into digital innovation and education centres. All the participating libraries received a donation of micro:bit educational microcomputers and BOSON add on kits for the micro:bits. The most motivated libraries also received 3D printers.

Through face to face workshops and visits we educated librarians on how to use the donated equipment and how to hold free coding, digital creativity, 3D modelling and 3D printing workshops. Within the last year we educated almost 380 librarians that held more than 1,500 free workshops for more than 13,000 users, and the equipment was borrowed more than 20,000 times.

Read more here.

Junior Engineer Academy Network Croatia

Together with the Deutsche Telekom Foundation IRIM established a network of 15 “Junior Engineer Academy” high schools in Croatia thus creating the first JEA network outside of Germany.

The aim of the network is to stimulate the interest of young people in technical, engineering and scientific professions and to facilitate their transition from highschools to universities and to the labour market.

The involved high schools have been equipped with advanced Arduino equipment and 3D printers, the teachers were educated on how to use the equipment and work with the students and the students created their first projects.

In 2020, the schools will start working on their own projects with mentorship from the companies that will become part of the network. Read more here and here.

Generation NOW

In partnership with the Croatian Telekom, we are implementing the Generation NOW project, which continues the project of introducing Internet of Things technologies to schools and educational NGOs throughout Croatia. The aim of the project is to connect the knowledge gained in the previous years with new knowledge in IoT, to develop pupils creativity and innovativity and to create an opportunity for pupils to create their own IoT projects from idea to proof of concept while learning from each others projects.

In mid 2019, a big presentation of last school year’s projects was organized, more info available here. This year we have included a 110 new  educational institutions  in the project, more here. All new institutions have been equipped with Arduino sets and additional sensor sets, and, as a novelty, this year 20 institutions working with pupils from grades 1 to 4 joined the project.


Our STEM car traveled around Croatia 5 times this year while organizing free digital literacy, programming and robotics workshops.

For the first time we had separate STEM car project cycles for teachers – teaching them how to use the technologies we use (mBots, addons, micro:bits etc.)

We visited almost every corner of Croatia, from Makarska to Čakovac and from Pula to Vukovar and held 92 workshops with more than 1,100 participants (550 teachers and 550 pupils).

Read more here.

Cooperation with the SOS Children’s Village

Continuing our cooperation with the Rotary E-club Croatia and Rotary Club Zagreb Center, with the donation of Erste bank we continued our projects with the SOS Children’s village Lekenik and donated equipment (3D printers, robots, micro:bits, laptops etc.) that children together with their mentors will use to participate in our projects and activities.

Our educators, and other maker enthusiasts held a number of workshops for the children in the village. Read more here and here.

The SOS Children’s village Lekenik has been actively involved in IRIM’s activities for the past several years (Croatian Makers Robotics League, STEM Revolution, Internet of Things technologies, STEM car) and their children have achieved great results. This year the children became mentors/educators in STEM. They visited an SOS village in Hinterbrühl, Austria and taught their children on how to use micro:bits and mBot robots and afterwards donated the technologies so the children could continue their work. Read more here.

Participation in Other Projects

Just like last year IRIM was the main sponsor of the event ‘Večer matematike/Math Evening’ – an event in elementary and high schools that aims to popularize mathematics. About 800 schools and other educational institutions participated in this year’s event, and part of the tasks used the micro:bit as an interactive tool to popularize math – because ‘M in STEM stands for Mathematics’.

IRIM is a strategic partner in a project that brings digital literacy and programming into rural Sri Lanka. Through the project equipment was donated, and teachers and volunteers were educated to hold educational activities with the micro:bit in 100 schools. Read more here.

The ProMikro project that IRIM initiated in partnership with the Ministry of Science and Education  has entered its 3rd year of implementation and laid the foundation to introduce informatics as a compulsory subject in Croatian schools. In 2019 additional schools entered the project, 1000 micro:bits were sent to the schools for new children joining the project, and 200 new teachers were educated, which shows a constant interest in the project.

IRIM participated in the open days of the Institute Ruđer Bošković for the 3rd year in a row. The open days of the Institute popularize science and had more than 35.000 participants to date. The visitors had a chance to program micro:bits, drive different robots and get different 3D printed objects as gifts. Read more here.

IRIM was a partner in the “Hrvatska glagoljica” exhibition on the Croatian glagolitic script held in the National and University Library in Zagreb. The exhibition merged modern educational technology like the micro:bit and 3D printers with the old glagolitic script. The world’s biggest micro:bit was created for the exhibition – you can see a video of it here. The exhibition had more than 6,500 visitors. Read more here.

This year’s museum night had the theme: Museums – Innovation and Digital Future. IRIM participated in the event by hosting free workshops in cooperation with the Zagreb Typhlological museum (a museum that holds museum material related to people with disabilities, with a focus on visually impaired people) demonstrating how technology can help visually impaired people. We also held an interactive demonstration at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Zagreb. Read more here.

Izradi! Educational website

We have continued to develop educational materials for all our technologies and created a large repository of materials that you can use even if you do not participate in our projects – thus we continuously contributing to the development of education in STEM and do-it-yourself fields. Visit the website here.


The backbone of our financing are the donations of the Bakić family. However, we are very proud and thankful for all  the donations that we receive. Our biggest donors, sponsors and supporters in 2019 were: Google, Croatian Telecom, Hyundai Croatia, Bruketa&Žinić&Grey agency, Undabot, Westgate, TDK Croatia and other companies that supported our work with their donations.

Our projects are co-financed by the EU ESF fund, the Swiss-Croatian Cooperation Fund  the Ministry of Science and Education, the foundation “Hrvatska za djecu”, individual counties and others.

However, we are especially thankful for the private citizen donations from Croatia and abroad that supported our work with one-time or multiple donations.

If you would like to support us, see the details here.