By Sue Todd, July 27, 2020
Equipped with a few simple components, over 7,500 pupils set to work on building a BlinkBug, ASML’s technology challenge for primary school kids during Dutch Technology Week.
Like many events this year, COVID-19 forced Dutch Technology Week – an annual event held in the Brainport region of the Netherlands that seeks to promote innovation in technology – to move online with digital workshops, podcasts and videos. In the spirit of that innovation, ASML brainstormed ways to add a physical element to the online event: the result was BlinkBug.
The Community Engagement team at ASML set to work inviting around 200 schools in the Brainport region to participate. Within the first hour, over 1,100 packages were requested. By the end of the week, that number had risen to 6,500.
Each student, all between the ages of 9 and 12, received a set of instructions, LED lights, copper wire, a clothes peg, a battery, pipe cleaners and popsicle sticks, and the ultimate challenge: build a BlinkBug and make it blink. When correctly assembled, the BlinkBug looks like an insect with LED ‘eyes’ that light up when the circuit is closed.
The challenge brought together technology – building a working circuit – and creativity, in that the students could decorate their BlinkBug however they liked. The completed BlinkBugs were shared on social media platforms popular with the age group, such as Instagram and TikTok, with the hashtag #BlinkBug.
“It was a completely different lesson than what I am used to – really cool!” says Mila van Gennip, a student at one of the schools.
Teachers are enthusiastic, too. “When children are engaged in a task, they are keen to share it with others,” says Ellen Kemp-v.d. Akker, director at OBS ‘t Smelleken primary school in Valkenswaard. “BlinkBug is an inspiring STEM task for the pupils, and we were thrilled to receive the ASML packages.”
Building 21st century skills
“Even at a young age, it’s important to engage children in technology and develop the 21st century skills we need in the future,” says Inge Wouters, of the Community Engagement team at ASML. “We wanted something kids would be able to do at home or at school – something that would inspire creativity and stimulate them to work with their hands.”
ASML takes its responsibility as an ambassador for the high-tech industry seriously. Promoting STEM education is given high priority, and finding ways to encourage the next generation to get involved in technology and science is placed high on the community engagement agenda.
“Technology is in our DNA,” says Janneke Snoeijen, part of the Community Engagement team at ASML. “We’re always looking for opportunities to share our enthusiasm and expertise in technology and inspire future generations.”
About the author
- Sue Todd
- Senior editor
- Sue is the content lead of ASML’s digital channels. Originally from London, she’s now rooted in the Netherlands.