A bespoke e-learning platform that encourages primary school children to pursue STEM and maritime subjects or careers.
In the UK there is a substantial lack of STEM skills in the workforce. 89% of STEM businesses struggle to recruit, which in part is down to challenges in encouraging school-aged students to take up STEM subjects.
The SS Freshspring is a non-profit, heritage steamship, recognised as a Vessel of National Importance and is moored in Bideford, North Devon. The SS Freshspring Trust operates to engage and advance the education of the public through the preservation, operation and the promotion of maritime studies, particularly among young people, for the public benefit.
We were approached to develop a dedicated website for primary-level school children and teachers. The website needed to extend the experience of school visits by introducing children to STEM topics with a focus on engineering and maritime issues and a range of possible maritime careers. The proposed web platform would enable them to follow up this theme at the learner’s own pace and in accordance with their interests.
My role primarily involved front-end development (SCSS, Twig) but due to the nature of having a small team I often became involved with back-end development, design and UX. Problem solving other aspects such as user flows for the various stakeholders was essential and accessibility concerns for younger users were researched. I also heavily documented the project and compiled a user guide to clearly aid the Trust to manage the site. I also subsequently ran a workshop to walk-through how the theme works for the required stakeholders.
On a more personal level. This was the first project to be made using an early version of the Hozokit framework (created by Cristiano Almeida) and it introduced me to a component based architecture and new libraries such as Twig and Timber that helped me grow as a developer, learning fast on the job.
- The design, navigation and layout must be suitable for children in primary education.
- The site must be password-protected and enabled with a school-specific access code.
- Theses codes must be easy to manage and generate from the admin area for provision to new school partners.
- A shared, fully moderated discussion space for participants motivated by STEM-related topics (including media upload).
- Avatar selection and limited account control for users.
- User types that determine the level of access and resources available. For example teaching resources will only be available to teacher accounts.
- Custom bespoke theme that’s component based.
- Fully responsive design.
- Illustrated characters that appear across the site with different personalities and roles to inform children.
- CSS animated SVGs.
- Account creation in bulk by teachers.
- Avatar selection for all users.
- Teacher resources available to teachers to help plan maritime based STEM lessons.
- Discussion area developed as a hybrid between a forum and a chat-messenger style.
- Case studies area with short articles about careers and life at sea.
- Interactive games and activities.
Full-stack/Project Manager – Cristiano Almeida
UX and Design – Theng Yen Chen
Illustrations – Edgar Priednieks
Director – Paul Matthews