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She "accidentally" got in a school and she became one of the best 50 teachers in the world: This is a story about Katarina Veljkovic, the pride of Serbian education (PHOTO)


She introduced a robot into her classes made out of Legos, and she "switched" classing programming to programming on a robot

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"Why are we learning it and what's the use of it", students asked the professor of computer science Katarina Veljkovic. She searched all over the world for a way to clearly show her students the purpose of the lines of text on a black screen. That was the beginning of Katarina's innovations in education.

This teacher of computer science in the First Kragujevac Highschool recently entered the top 50 finalists for the prestigious award Global Teacher Prize. 10.000 teachers from 179 countries competed. The criteria were innovation, students achieving good results in further education, that they are becoming the citizens of the world...


When asked what is she doing to be in the top 50, Katarina said that everything started 14 years ago when children forced her to be creative.  


- I was teaching programming to the future mechanical workers who simply didn't see the point in learning that - the lines of text on the black screen. That was really upsetting for me, how will I teach them anything. The fear was quickly replaced by enthusiasm and I started investigating how are these problems solved by teachers in the world. I selected a robot. And then I researched which robot is the best, what are the prices, can the school buy them or should I? The children themselves made me search for the solution - said Katarina.

I introduced a robot made of Legos to the classes. I have "transferred" classic programming to the application of programming on a robot.


- When I introduced a robot, everything started to make sense. They started connection - there is hydraulics, machine parts, and they wonder, how can I use Legos to make a gear wheel which will make a turn left or right. And when I program it, I write the code line and the robot does it, and then see what it all does. And then they started creating programs for robots - said one of the 50 best teachers in the world.

Katarina came up with a virtual classroom. That is a platform where lectures and tasks are placed which are done by students in the class. And if they are not in the class, students can watch it over their phones or computers. because of this, a student, who was in Denmark for 6 months, didn't miss any classes.



Students of Katarina Veljkovic participated in many state and international competitions with their projects and they won many awards. They developed a "smart beehive" which was represented on the European competition of student companies. Sensors for moisture and temperature, microphone and camera in a hive are enabling the beekeeper to see the conditions in the beehive over the internet and to quickly intervene. In the project "smart garden" the students placed sensors in the garden and they regulate when there isn't enough water and they start the pump from a reservoir with rainwater. But, why did Katarina's students, mostly children from the city, came up with "agricultural" projects that are not close to them. 

- I am teaching them not to use technology just to make games but to make tools that will also help other people, to think outside of the box. They created glasses for blind and people with impaired vision, the device which helps them in their environment. The glasses are using the system if bats, echo - explains KatarinaVeljkovic.


And then one of 50 teachers in the world decided to be even better. She applied and she was accepted in the Honeywell Space Academy program in Alabama, as the first teacher from Serbia. She passed this training in June 2018.


- That was the camp where teachers are educated how to hold classes from STEM subjects with different methods (science, technology, engineering, mathematics). We had different simulations and workshops. The thing that I apply from this program is very important and that is when I give the problem to the students, to make it authentic and multidimensional problems which will have more than one solution. By solving the problems in their own ways, the students are becoming the greater owner of their own knowledge. There is no pressure like in classical education where everything is explained to the students, for example, what is a motor and how it works. They reveal that themselves, for example, what a motor should have to be able to move something - explains Katarina.

She adds that she wouldn't be able to do these innovations if she hadn't had the support of the principal of the school where she worked and if she hadn't been recognized by the association "Zivojin Misic", which chooses the best teachers in Serbia. 10 teachers will be chosen out of the best 50 in the middle of February 2019, and the winner will get a million dollars for investment in education.


Katarina never imagined that she will be a professor when she finished the Faculty of Mathematics.

- I "accidentally" got into school, and that was it. I fell in love - said one of the best teachers in the world.

(Telegraf.co.uk / Marija Raca)

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