IoE for Kids

by Anna Janas · Cisco Marketing Lead for Central and Eastern Europe.


Who knows what IoE is?

My four-year-old daughter asked me one day, “Mummy, where do you work?” I thought, what’s the easiest way of explaining to a 4-year-old what Cisco is? Then it occurred to me that the easiest, yet the most universal way of telling the Cisco story so that it is understood even to a child is the Internet of Things.

Explaining to my daughter the Internet of Everything (IoE) concept and her enthusiastic reaction inspired me to reach out with this story to a larger audience. This led me to become a lecturer at the Children University in Poland.

Together with my colleague Jacek Lewandowski I reached out to the Children’s University, the oldest and largest institution of this kind in Poland. It’s a non-profit organization, carrying out modern educational programs for children aged 6-14, resembling university lectures, cooperating with more than a dozen Polish universities. It also serves as a platform with lesson scenarios for teachers. The idea of a lecture titled “Can Things Talk to Each Other?” was picked-up immediately, and before I knew it I was standing in front of hundreds of bright kids and explaining to them what IoE is and how it works.

Telling the IoE story in a manner that is not only understandable, but also interesting for children requires a specific approach, adjusted to the perception capabilities of a child. Routing or switching were obviously not words to be used here.

Can things talk to each other? Can an electric kettle make tea on its own?  I use examples of people communicating using different tools and then the examples of things communicating: garbage bins communicating that they need to be emptied, street lamps turning on when a child approaches it, smart homes and in the future your refrigerator doing shopping when there are no eggs in it.

Oops...another difficult question!

Using as many real-life references and “speaking with pictures” I found was the best way of showing how IoE enables or will soon enable everyday objects to communicate with each other. I show Cisco films with a cat drinking milk and how milk is “getting” to the house—all using the Cisco network.

The enthusiasm from the children was brilliant and an unbelievable amount of questions were asked.   Questions like can a robot do my homework for me in the future, as I hate it? Who invented Internet and when? How can lights turn on by themselves? Can a bus talk to a bus stop? Can a car talk to a parking lot?

Connecting the unconnected...how does that feel?

The first lecture had more than 300 children in the audience and will be repeated for children in other locations, reaching over 2,000 children. Additionally, the Cisco lecture, Internet of Everything-Connecting the Unconnected will be used as a lesson scenario, downloadable for teachers.

“It’s never too early to be taught how technology can change lives – the interest and enthusiasm our lectures meet with among the children is the best proof-point for that!”
- Anna Janas

This experience is important to me on a professional and private level. Privately, it helped my daughter learn something important about me—what I do during the day. Professionally, it has taught me how to communicate even the most complicated aspects of technology in an easy and accessible way, making it comprehensive even for children whilst spreading Cisco’s leading thoughts on IoE among the future thought leaders. This opportunity has made me proud to be a Cisco employee.

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