Area: STEAM females in computer programming (Technology and combination or areas)
Grade Level: 5-6th Class (10-12 years)
Course: STEAM in the classroom
Timeframe: 2 x 40 minutes
Students will research STEAM role models with a focus on female role models of the past initially. They will research those making a contribution to science past and present using a WebQuest challenge. They will research their biography including background, education, career path and achievements and impact on the STEAM industry. They will analyse the potential role model for characteristics, choices and decisions that impacted their knowledge, skills and attitudes critical to their success. They will also consider any other influences critical to the STEAM female’s success based on their research including challenges as well as supports. This first challenge focuses on Ada Lovelace and computer programming.
Upon completion of this Lesson students will be able to:
- Identify potential Female Role Models in the STEAM industry (past and present).
- Identify STEAM pioneers who shaped the course of history.
- Analyse the career path of potential role models for critical decisions that impacted their career path.
- Identify and list any critical factors that improve the chances of success in a career trajectory.
- Describe the key achievements of the scientist.
- Identify any potential role models in the life of the STEAM expert.
- Research, identify and describe the contribution of the expert to their field of interest.
- Consider if they are interested in any aspects of the STEAM career or imagine themselves in any part of the field.
- Laptop and interactive white board or computer lab.
- Record the evidence in an online format.
- Web sources of interest:
Students will be challenged to research STEAM females of the past and present beginning with Ada Lovelace.
Using a WebQuest challenge. Students will research STEAM Female biography including background, education, career path and achievements, impact on the STEAM industry. They will analyse the potential role model for characteristics, choices and decisions that impacted their knowledge, skills and attitudes critical to their success. They will also consider any other influences critical to the STEAM females success based on their research including challenges as well as supports.
- Setting: Classroom based using interactive whiteboard and iPads or a computer lab.
- Project based Learning
- Group work and research work
- Standard elementary class group 25-27 children.
- Ages 10-12 years.
- Using digital competences,
- Developing Information and Data Literacy, browsing, searching and filtering data, information and digital content.
- Communication and Collaboration
- Digital content creation through
- Problem Solving through research-based methods.
- Evaluating the evidence generated by an investigation.
Students will be challenged to research STEAM females of the past and present beginning with Ada Lovelace.
Using a WebQuest challenge, students will research STEAM Female biography including background, education, career path and achievements, impact on the STEAM industry. They will analyse the potential role model for characteristics, choices and decisions that impacted their knowledge, skills and attitudes critical to their success. They will also consider any other influences critical to the STEAM females success based on their research including challenges as well as supports.
Students will be assessed based on how they carry out the investigation in the form of a WebQuest in pairs/small groups of 3 (depending on the class size). They will be observed and assessed as they investigate and inquire through web searches and discussion. They will also be observed in their planning, identifying of alternatives, and assessing/evaluating the information as well as in the context of the digital competences.
Student’s learning will be assessed using the digital competence framework and using their response to the learning objectives:
- Information and data literacy: in the context of the WebQuest, observe and assess how students locate and retrieve data, the decisions they make on storing, managing and organising the content one of the most critical aspects; evaluating its relevance.
- Communication and collaboration: students will be communicating and working in the classroom as well as online on the digital platform. How the students work together in class and on the digital platform, how they share their research digitally, and make decisions on how they present their research should be observed. Students should be aware of behaving responsibly online, and will be observed in how they demonstrate this, this is described as “netiquette”.
- Digital Content Creation: students will observe content online and respond accordingly, creating their own records through completing the WebQuest. At the end of the WebQuest, the students can be asked to develop an infographic, showing the timeline and key points in Ada’s career. With this output at the end, teachers will observe the process by which students assess, interpret the data, modify, and add their own viewpoint and knowledge to the existing body of online data. In summary the re-interpretation of data and integration of new ideas, opinions or viewpoints.
- Safety: Students will demonstrate awareness of staying safe online, assessing awareness of following safe online practices, keeping identity safe, etc.
- Problem solving: the overall task enables students to engage in problem solving and inquiry-based learning; in this case a digital means which can be assessed. Students gain awareness of their own digital competence, and their ability to work together on task.
Reference: EU digital competence framework 2020
Instructions for teachers
Using the WebQuest challenge to research STEAM female role models, teachers can adapt the lesson to suit the learning styles of the students. The web research provides visual learners with visual material, videos, diagrams, representations of data on the subject. At the same time, aural learners can listen to the information being shared online, hearing the data on the subject. All the while, the experiential learner is engaged in the whole process. The project-based and enquiry-based learning brings all learning styles together in the group task.
It is important for the teacher to demonstrate what is required, using a search engine for a specific idea/article prior to issuing the challenge.
The teacher then completes the following steps:
- Ask all students if they know what computer programming is? Ask them to share their ideas and definitions with the class.
- Read aloud the challenge, while displaying the WebQuest on the interactive board. If delivering the session in the computer lab, teachers need to demonstrate where the students need to go online, following the challenge. The teacher should use the WebQuest challenge worksheet in hard or soft copy.
- Read aloud the scenario from the WebQuest challenge:
(Today you are going to travel back in time to research who the first computer programmer was. Imagine this person was the beginning of the computer technology you have in your hands! Without this person, you might not have computers, mobile phones, televisions and more! You are using this persons’ invention and so begin by searching for them and bring back as much relevant information as you can)
- Open the search engine and look for the world’s first computer programmer.
- What do you need to find out about this person?
- Background, education, career path and achievements, impact on the STEAM industry.
- Any potential role models or people in their life who influenced them.
- Look for characteristics, choices and decisions that impacted their knowledge, skills and attitudes critical to their success.
- Did the challenges impact their life choices, their career?
- What may have been their sources of inspiration?
- Do you think they enjoyed the work they did? Why?
- From the research, guide students through how to develop a poster or infographic to display what they have learned in this session. This poster can be developed online, using Canva for example, or if there is insufficient access to IT resources, students can draw their poster or infographic using paper, colouring pencils and markers.
- Once all of the poster and infographics are completed, the teacher should take the work of each group, and mount the posters on the walls of the classroom, or of the school hallways, so as to encourage other classes and students to learn about STEAM Females.
THEME ALLOCATED: STEAM females of the Past
TITLE OF THE WEBQUEST: A Journey to meet the First Computer Programmer
What do we mean by computer programming? Do you have any ideas that you would like to share with the class? Computer programming is what we use to tell computers, iPads, tablets and other devices what is it that we want them to do. It is a set of instructions and commands that we give to our computers. A computer programmer is someone who writes these instructions for the computer. In order to do this, they need to learn how to think like and communicate with the computer.
Looking around your classroom, can you identify IT devices that may have some ‘programming’? Discuss this with your teacher!
Today you are going to travel back in time to research who the first computer programmer was. Imagine this person was the beginning of the computer technology you have in your hands! Without this person, you might not have computers, mobile phones, televisions and more!
You are using this persons’ invention and so begin by searching for them.
Once you have found out who they are, you need to undertake a journey to bring their memory into the present day! For this, you will need to research all about their lives, find out what led them to be the first computer programmer, and then you will design a flyer (either online if you can, or on pen and paper) to show what you have learned about the first computer programmer!
This is your way of honouring their memory and celebrating the gift that they gave to the world – technology! Bring back as much relevant information as you can!
Step 1: The Mystery Programmer
The first step is to find out who we are talking about! In teams of 2-3, you will search online for the person considered “the first computer programmer”.
Once you have found this person, investigate their life!
Research their background, education, career path and achievements. You might find some of the following links useful:
- Ada Lovelace Biography, Britannica (2020)
- World Science Festival (2013)
- Ada Lovelace The Original Woman in Tech, TedX Bucharest, (2017)
- Evans, Claire, The Story Behind the World’s First Computer Programmer
- Sullivan, Crystal, (2018) Biographics “Ada Lovelace The First Computer Programmer”
- Editors (2020) Computer history museum, Ada Lovelace retrieved from
Step 2: Meeting a Hero!
Great, now you know that Ada Lovelace is the first computer programmer. Now that you have a name, next you and your team should get to know a little about this STEAM hero. Imagine what she was like as a person! From the research you have conducted, find and list her characteristics. Try and answer the following questions in your group:
- What was she good at?
- What special knowledge and skills did she have?
- How did she learn everything she needed to know to be the first computer programmer?
- Do you think she enjoyed what she was doing?
- Can you find a significant life event that may have led her to this career?
Step 3: Create a flyer or infographic
Ada Lovelace was very inventive; she lived her life as an innovator. Can you suggest creative ways in which you can present your findings about Ada?
For example, you could create a poster with a timeline of her greatest achievements. Or an infographic that presents her ‘curriculum vitae’. Or you could write a short report on her life. Whatever you decide, the following links might be useful to help you get started:
Quiz - Answer the following questions in your group
- From what you have learned; why is Ada Lovelace considered the first computer programmer?
- Name as many devices as you can that you think use some form of computer programming.
- Who were Ada’s role models?
- Was Ada’s work respected in her lifetime, give your opinion and explain your viewpoint.
- Has Ada’s contribution to science been marked in any way?
- If Ada Lovelace were around today, what global challenge would you like to ask her about and why?
- If you could invent something what would it be?
Congratulations! You have completed your first STEAM WebQuest! Had you heard of Ada Lovelace before? On reflection do you think she has had an influence on technology?
If the world’s first computer programmer were alive today what do you think she might say about the digital world? About science? About women in science?
Do you think there are people like her in the world today?
What other people can you think made contributions to the STEAM world.