Valeria Cagnina is undoubtedly the youngest school principal in Italy (and not only there!). She is just 16 years old and she manages her own private school. Her parents helped her to make her dream become true: she teaches applied robotics to education to an audience made up of 20 young students. Valeria also teaches in a kindergarten twice a week in Asti and in a primary school in Valenza. She is also followed by a team of 5 teachers who are convinced they can learn something important from her.
When she was only 11 years old Valeria, from home and with a bad internet connection, was able to piece together her first robot. This robot had Arduino hardware, an Olivetti circuit board (as small as a credit card), and a sort of a small Lego brick. Valeria built her first robot thanks to tutorial videos on YouTube in English. Although she could not speak the language, she was able to follow the instructions thanks to subtitles, images and translators. The whole process took her 10 days.
After her outstanding creation, the Boston MIT – one of the most prestigious universities in the world – opened its doors to young Valeria. While her school in Alessandria wanted to fail her because of the high number of absences, Valeria was enjoying high-level research, enhancing her knowledge and skills on multiple fields.
Today, Valeria’s school is one of a kind. Located in San Michele (Alessandria), young students enter barefoot. Their only tasks are rolling around soft pillows, crawling around colourful carpets (for the very young ones) and watching YouTube videos carefully selected. The school also has a mascot called “Turbo”, a stuffed knock-need blue robot with whom Valeria fell in love. Also the walls of the school are unique: full of stars, reminding the students that “nothing is impossible”.