IRIM/Croatian Makers - 2023 overview


Read Croatian version here.

Another successful and very interesting year is behind us. In 2023, we launched new projects, improved existing ones, and celebrated 9 years since the founding of our non-profit organization IRIM and 8 years of implementation of the Croatian Makers Robotics League project.

Every day, we implement a large number of national and international projects that have impacted more than 350,000 children.

Below you can read more about our activities:

Croatian Makers League

The Croatian Makers League, a robotics and programming competition for elementary school-aged children, was our first big project and the driving force behind our entire story. Initially, our aim was to start the project in 50 schools and donate 250 robots. However, due to an overwhelming response, over a hundred schools and non-profit organizations applied to the initial call. The League has been continuously running since the school year 2015/2016 to this day and more than 600 primary schools, libraries, non-governmental organizations and other educational institutions have been involved in the project so far.

In the school year 2022/23, through the “STEM u zajednici” (eng. STEM in the Community) project, we donated new micro:Maqueen Plus robots to all the participating institutions. Additionally, as an enhancement to the new robots, through the “Umjetna inteligencija u STEM edukaciji” (eng. Artificial Intelligence in STEM Education) project, we donated HuskyLens cameras for artificial intelligence, thereby upgrading the equipment of all participants in the League. The cameras introduced a new dimension to robot programming, opening up various possibilities for children’s creativity.

Educational materials for using the equipment and a handbook on artificial intelligence were developed for the project, introducing this topic to more than 400 schools across Croatia. The handbook is available here, and the interactive course can be accessed on our Izradi! educational portal.

During the school year 2022/2023, four rounds of the Croatian Makers League competition were held. Notably, the third round, held in February 2023, stood out as the first “in person” round in this school year. Almost 1,500 competitors from 450 competing teams participated, gathered in 39 regional centers in Croatia, where they simultaneously solved tasks.

Here is a short video that perfectly captures the atmosphere from the conducted in person round of the League.

IRIM organized the online Superfinal of the Croatian Makers League 2022/23 at the end of the school year, in which 225 competitors from 61 competing teams participated. The best in the younger age group (grades 1-4) were contestants from OŠ Ivane Brlić Mažuranić Rokovci Andrijaševci, and from the older age group (grades 5-8), contestants from Foto Film Video Amateri Luke.

In the season of the Croatian Makers League 2022/23, the participation was more than:

STEM auto

In 2016, we launched “STEM auto” (eng. STEM Car) – a project where we travel across Croatia, acting as “modern mobile learning centers” and providing free STEM workshops. Through this project, our aim is to provide everyone, regardless of their location or access to technology, the opportunity to explore and engage with technology, robotics, and programming.

The workshops are designed as introductory sessions to robotics and programming, primarily targeting elementary school-aged children. IRIM brings all the necessary equipment for the workshops, including laptops, extension cables, etc. The only requirement from the host is to express interest, provide a space for the workshop, and gather participants.

In 2023, we successfully held 86 mobile “STEM auto” workshops, reaching 1,126 children. During these workshops, we introduced the basics of robotics and programming, encouraging children to actively participate in STEM activities. IRIM’s educators covered the entire country, with a special focus on rural and smaller towns, aiming to ensure that all children, regardless of their location, have the opportunity to experience working with robots.

To learn more about the project, you can read further details here.

The STEM Car project in the year 2023 encompassed:

Generacija NOW

We started the collaboration with Hrvatski Telekom back in 2016 through the “Zajedno smo jači” (eng. Together We Are Stronger) project, in which we donated Internet of Things (IoT) packages to all participating institutions. 

Since then, we have been continuously conducting projects with HT, and “Generacija NOW” (eng. Generation NOW) is the latest version. In this initiative, just in the school year 2022/23, we included more than 140 schools, non-governmental organizations, libraries, and other institutions working with children of elementary and high school age. We donated Dasduino and Neuron IoT sets and accessories.

“Generacija NOW” is implemented with the aim of providing young individuals with the most modern forms of education, enabling them to develop creativity and innovation with the assistance of the latest technology. Since its beginning, this project has successfully reached over 4,000 children and youth throughout Croatia, involving more than 360 educational institutions.

In the previous school year, 1,400 children and youth from 142 educational institutions across various parts of Croatia participated in the project. Teams of students from elementary and high schools demonstrated significant creativity, originality, and an admirable application of acquired technical knowledge. The theme of this year’s program was ‘Green Technologies’, focusing on how to connect modern technologies with ecology and sustainability.

Throughout the school year, all project participants were required to create at least one project. After selecting the best, we invited the top 18 teams to the final exhibition and hackathon held in June 2023, where they presented their projects to the jury and other event participants.

The best projects of the “Generacija NOW” 2022/23 project, according to the decision of the expert jury, are as follows:

In the category of the first to fourth grades of elementary school, the best project is ‘Pametna kišna krila’ (eng. Smart Rain Wings) by OŠ Frana Krste Frankopana, Zagreb, which developed a smart garden irrigation system.

In the category of the fifth to eighth grades, the best project is the ‘Pametni sustav gospodarenja vodom u kućanstvu’ (eng. Smart Household Water Management System) by OŠ Rude, Samobor, which devised a functional system for more conscientious and efficient water management.

The best project in the high school category is ‘Klicomat’ (eng. Seedling-O-Matic) by Tehnička škola Daruvar, Daruvar, which enables efficient sprout cultivation using various sensors and regulators.

In the school year 2022/2023 the Generation NOW project included:   

Junior Engineer Academy

The “Junior Engineer Academy” is a vocational education project developed by the Deutsche Telekom Stiftung (DTS) in Germany. In the school year 2018/19, Croatia became the first country apart from Germany where the project was implemented. In the school year 2022/23, we initiated a new version of the project, JEA 2.0.

For the schools involved in the “Junior Engineer Academy 2.0” project, we organized a creative competition with an open theme – the goal was to create the best project using the donated equipment (Arduino kits and 3D printers). A total of 25 high schools in Croatia participated in the project, developing their designs throughout the entire school year. The task was for students to devise a project of their choice, showcasing their knowledge and creativity, along with demonstrating various practical applications of the components from the equipment kits donated to them as a part of the project.

At the end of the competition, the best project, “Vukovar – The Green Tech City of the Future” from Gimnazija Vukovar, was selected. The project is based on innovative green technologies that enable the use of natural resources for long-term sustainable development.

You can see the project video below, and access the entire project here

As a reward for the best project, the team from Vukovar won as a prize a study trip to Germany with the aim of familiarizing themselves with the working models of German institutions involved in the “Junior Engineer Academy”project. They visited the city of Regensburg and Goethe-Gymnasium, where they spent a day with German students, participating together in workshops on soldering and programming microcontrollers. They also visited Munich, where they spent a day at the Deutsches Museum, the world’s museum of science and technology.

Revolucija digitalne pismenosti

At the beginning of the school year 2023/2024, we initiated activities for the “Revolucija digitalne pismenosti” (eng. Digital Literacy Revolution) project in collaboration with Rotary Club Zagreb-Centar.

The project involves nearly 300 primary schools to which we have donated over 13,000 micro:bits, microcomputers that can be used as educational tools in acquiring STEM knowledge. The goal is to ensure that all schools have sufficient equipment for classroom use.

More details about the project can be seen  here.

The main idea is that micro:bits are available to all students of the participating school as they are located in the school libraries, and primary school teachers can borrow them for use in their work.

During January, we conducted training for ambassadors of this project who, after the workshop, will be able to share knowledge and experience in working with microcomputers in the classroom with teachers, librarians, and schools. 

After the initial training, the ambassadors held 100 workshops dedicated to the education of primary school teachers, computer science teachers, and school librarians who are part of the project.

These workshops are conducted by project ambassadors, experienced teachers, and educators with whom IRIM has successfully collaborated for many years. The goal of these workshops is to guide participants into the intriguing world of the micro:bit, including its components, features, and educational potential for use in classrooms.

The project involves 1,200 teachers, librarians, and computer science teachers who will complete six educational cycles over two school years to empower them for the effective use of micro:bits in classroom teaching. Additionally, we have developed and provided free access to educational materials covering various subjects within primary school education.

You can watch a video from the mentor workshops below:

The Digital Literacy Revolution project consist of:

Izradi! educational website

“Izradi!” educational website features a wealth of educational content, providing every user with an easy path to develop skills in STEM areas such as robotics, programming, or other uses of digital technologies. On this interactive website, we publish courses and educational materials for all the technologies utilized in our projects.

In addition to educational materials on this website, users can find courses, projects and competitions that have emerged as part of various IRIM activities. The materials are free and accessible to all users interested in expanding their knowledge in the fields of programming, robotics, automation, and digital literacy in general.

The website features numerous new and engaging educational materials and courses, which you can explore here (you need to create an account to attend the courses).

Apart from our projects in 2023, we would like to highlight two events in which we participated:

STEM festival

We participated in 2 STEM Festivals organized by “Ured za udruge” (eng. Office for Cooperation with NGOs) and “Nacionalna zaklada za razvoj civilnoga društva” (eng. National Foundation for Civil Society Development). One took place on November 11, 2023, at Ban Josip Jelačić Square in Zagreb.

The event was dedicated to the popularization of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), and we presented our activities along with the “STEM u zajednici” project that we conducted with the support of the festival organizers.

All participants in the festival gathered thanks to the competition “Strengthening the Capacities of Civil Society Organizations for the Popularization of STEM” worth 20 million EUR (non-refundable funds from the European Social Fund). 

Alongside us, other associations participated in the festival, presenting their exhibits, experiments, educational devices, and technology used to promote and popularize STEM to visitors. The festival was attended by numerous children, their parents, representatives from ministries, public institutions, and associations, and other interested individuals who, despite the rain and unfavorable weather, experienced programming with micro:bits and working with other equipment.

For more details about the festival, you can read here. 

Final conference of the “Umjetna inteligencija u STEM edukaciji” project, September 25-27, 2023

In September 2023, we held the final conference of the “Umjetna inteligencija u STEM edukaciji” (eng. Artificial Intelligence in STEM Education) project at Hotel Omorika in Crikvenica. We gathered 60 of the most engaged mentors from the Croatian Makers League from the past school year, for whom we organized lectures, workshops, and roundtable discussions on artificial intelligence, its role in education, advantages, disadvantages, legal aspects as well as presentations of the best practices in the school environment. Through this conference, we aimed to bring the topic of artificial intelligence closer to teachers and discuss its implications in education. 

The conference featured numerous speakers, panelists, and mentors, including Norwegian partners from The European Wergeland Centre. At the end of the event, all participants had the opportunity to take part in a robotics competition inspired by the Croatian Makers League, enabling them to view the competition through their students’ eyes, having previously only served in mentorship roles. 

Our success stories

In addition to numerous projects that we have accomplished, we want to emphasize that we are also a strong catalyst and a source of motivation for many mentors and young talents. Their exceptional achievements are documented in inspirational stories about the power of mentorship, innovations, and collaborative efforts.

Through participation in various IRIM projects, these young individuals have developed their skills, gained invaluable experience, and acquired essential life competencies such as teamwork, creativity, and problem-solving. Many of them have won awards at competitions, setting high standards in the fields of science and technology.

Thanks to partners and donors

After another creative and successful year, we sincerely want to thank everyone who contributed to our work. Without the substantial support from our participants, partners, and collaborators, as well as the generosity of our donors, we would not have achieved even a fraction of what we have accomplished since the establishment of the Institute for Youth Development and Innovativity up to the present day.

Their belief in our mission and continuous support inspire us to move forward and motivate us to achieve outstanding results. With great pride, we can highlight that together, we have achieved significant success in creating a stimulating environment for the development of young talents in the field of STEM. Our projects, educational programs, and community collaboration have contributed to encouraging innovation and the research spirit of youth.

Thank you once again for your contribution. We will continue to work with the same enthusiasm and dedication to further shape the future through strengthening STEM education.