Creative. Problem Solver. Team Player.

These could easily be a part of a job description in LinkedIn, but for me these words describe the group of 5th and 6th graders I had the privilege to meet last week.

Through a Cisco volunteer program called Programa Escuela, elementary school students have the opportunity to learn firsthand about the latest technology from Cisco employees: from connecting things through the Internet of Everything to how cities are becoming “Smart.” This is especially relevant to the classrooms we visited in Barcelona as their community is continually referenced in the Smart City space.

The goal of the program is to teach children about technology, inspire them to keep up their studies, especially around STEM-related areas (science, technology, engineering and math), and to engage them in a hands-on project where they can apply their knowledge. They also receive coaching and mentoring around project work and communication skills.

With the Internet of Everything touching every sector, exciting kids about STEM at an early age is critical in order to prepare them for the IT jobs of the future.

This year in Spain, students were tasked to develop projects related to the Internet of Things (IoT), inventing concepts that connect everyday physical objects to the Internet.

Students in Barcelona
Students in Barcelona wait to present their project to students in Mexico via Cisco TelePresence.

“Program Escuela is a superb opportunity to make the difference in our local communities and experience first-hand how is Cisco changing the world,” said Dubravka Novkovic, Cisco Spain volunteer. “It gives us hope that there will be more engineers and scientists out there because we volunteer to make it happen.“

In small teams, the students selected a real issue in their community or home and spent two months developing creative IoT solutions to solve the problem.

On April 10 I was on a judging panel at Ginesta Elementary School in Castelldefels (Barcelona), to select the winning ideas. What a difficult task! Innovations ranged from smart chips in diapers to help infant daycare to intelligent sensors that help farmers become more efficient and reduce long working hours.


The winning Barcelona entries: Modern Garden (left) and Smart House, Part of the “Smart House”, showing a cat with a collar that acts like a key.
The winning Barcelona entries: Modern Garden (left) and the “Smart House,” showing a cat with a collar that acts like a key.

On April 16 the winning teams from schools in Spain (Barcelona, Malaga, and Toledo) and Monterrey, Mexico went to their local Cisco offices, where they connected to each other through Cisco TelePresence video conferencing solution. In the virtual session they met the Vice President of Cisco Mexico, saw a fantastic demo showing the latest video technology, and shared their winning projects and ideas.

Students in Mexico sharing their International City Project.

Here’s what students and teachers said about the program:

  • With the Internet you can help people and solve problems.” – Didac, 6th grade
  • “It’s cool to imagine what things could be like in the future.” – Ariadna, 6th grade
  • “Technology is more than just playing video games.” – Marc, 5th grade
  • The more areas students can explore the better for their development. New experiences are motivating and make them excited to learn.” – Santi Sanz, 6th grade teacher.

Read more in the local language in these school blog entries:

Ginesta Elementary School:

CEIP Nara Elementary School:

Over 500 students in Spain have participated in Programa Escuela since its inception. The program was developed by Conexión, Cisco’s Latino Business Community, and is run by Cisco volunteers in Spain, Mexico and the US.

The Internet of Everything will generate unparalleled demand for skilled workers and opportunities for creative, tech-savvy people everywhere. It’s motivating to work for a company that inspires and engages young people to explore IT through initiatives like Programa Escuela. Cisco continues to support the IT education journey through the Networking Academy, training over 1 million students in 170 countries each year. The program identifies and develops the skills people and businesses need to thrive in a changing economy.


Julie Chrysler

Program Manager

Cisco Networking Academy