CMU Project Rwanda


Scratching the Surface of Programming by jdebner
August 27, 2010, 3:45 am
Filed under: Planning, Teaching Experience
Scratch

Scratch is a programming application based out of MIT, available on the OLPC XO. It features block “drag and drop” programming for beginners. We were a team of four people who taught basics of programming to a class of about 20 students per session, totalling about 120 students. Our sessions covered 4 days with a final showcase day.

Lesson Plan prior:

Our goal to achieve over the period of four days was to build a game. This was to show the students that programming could be fun and there were lot of things you can achieve through it.

Games considered:

  • Maze
  • Paddle
  • Bouncing ball

We are going to tell you what we initially planned for the day, then what we actually achieved and add a short commentary about our reflections for the day.

Lesson Plan:

We had one person lead the class(Josh- the Umuzungu) and the other three go around class, helping the students build the program.

Day 1:

Previous plan:

  • We were trying to feel out what the students knew and what methods for learning would be most applicable for them, whether it is teaching on the board or acting it out
  • We wrote the program ourselves to figure out what is the easiest way to teach the students
  • We learned about how scratch calculates the center of an asymmetrical object (that you draw) to bounce off the walls at point of contact
  • Our plan was to do little pieces of the game each day and combine all the parts of the game at the end to show them an end-product
  • We were aware that the 5th graders we were teaching had used Scratch before during a malaria-awareness camp

Achieved:

  • Ice Breaker: We told the story of our coming to Rwanda which is a version of Simon Says. We did the following actions: rowing (action: row on your knees), flying (action: move arms while standing), waiting (action: stand against the wall) and driving (action: drive while sitting)
  • We taught the concept of angles at 90 degree interval, using a 2-D picture of a cat
  • We covered direction by making students stand up and face that direction
  • We drew sprites and got them to move on the screen

Commentary:

  • We faced technology issues all day because of handing out laptops, checking if scratch was available and getting scratch loaded
  • We did not get to teach much and we weren’t connecting well with the students as they did not seem to understand it well
  • One of the reasons for the disappointment was that we were trying to teach them the elements specific for the game and we weren’t presenting it in the actual context that they should learn it in
  • Our demo’s weren’t good as we were presenting a 2-D diagram in 3D and did not end up using the blackboard at all on the first day

Day 2:

Previous plan:

  • Go through basic introductory programming ideas and teach basic structural elements like loops and some logic like greater than and less than and so on

Achieved:

  • Ice Breaker: Name and actions, where everyone in the room assembled in a circle and said their name and did an action and everyone else imitated it in the room
  • We taught sound which we weren’t going to even use in the game but just to teach the concept
  • We imported a sound and then we had them create a simple conditional statement, if statement about some number is greater than another and then play the sound. We changed the numbers and tried different logical statements, so that they could understand the conditional statement and the math involved
  • We taught if, then if else, and tried to explain that having a statement after the else or within the if-else block and tried to show the difference. We demonstrated it by making people stand in a line and give them a number,  we also had a gate keeper who would determine if or else and would tell the if or else option to act
  • Programming basics taught were for, while and forever loops

Commentary:

  • One of our best days as the demonstrations were effective as we did not have to worry about 3D figures as we used students demonstrate and we could tell if they were understanding logic or not because the entire class participated and they could correct their peers if one of them was wrong
  • Each class got into a little different stage because of how accustomed they were to scratch
  • In terms of flow it worked well with teaching concepts and wrote code on the board, so the students could see the program. The code wasn’t written on the board, till the students had already learnt about it
  • The most effective way to use a translator was for Josh to talk a bit longer and then the translator could put more of it in context. This way Josh could say a bunch of things, and the translator could clarify and Josh could go around seeing if everyone was moving ahead collectively or not
  • It was important to have the other three people on the team to go around and see if all the students were caught up or if they needed any help. Melvin made sure the board was up-to date and everyone helped with technical issues like not having scratch loaded, the computer freezing or mouse issues

Day 3:

Previous Plan:

  • The goal was to get the first part of the game working, which was to move a fruit plate horizontally. We want to teach that if we moved to the right, we added to the x variable and add to the y axis for moving left

Achieved:

  • Ice Breaker: Ninja
  • For starting the game, we taught about X direction motion, and had to decrease the size of the fruit basket because it was big for the screen which would make the game really easy. We additionally taught them about key presses, to move the basket

Commentary:

  • The problem we faced was that we had to make sure that the students saved this game, so we could load it the next day to complete it. It was an issue because of multiple laptops and multiple students
  • Scratch is not integrated into the operating system as other applications. So we have to save it, just like how we need to make sure we quit properly to close scratch
  • We made sure we made our own copy and placed it on a  flash drive, so that just incase students hadn’t saved it, we could load it for them and everyone would be on the same page on the next day
  • We had to teach the numberline to students as well because dealing with negative numbers could be complicated for fifth graders. We weren’t prepared to teach it but it was necessary to understand the concepts

Day 4:
Previous Plan:

  • Finish up the game, add the dropping banana

Achieved:

  • We finished the game by adding the banana, made it smaller, dropped it from the sky and then from different places in the sky and we added a points counter as long as the banana was caught in the fruit basket
  • For demos, we made a student walk back and forth when we told them which direction to walk in and we taught about the y-axis on the board with a number line and sponge

Commentary:

  • It was a very rushed day because we had to finish building the game.
  • It was a fine balance between making the students understand the programming behind the game and them having something tangible in the end
  • The random number generator was confusing for the students and was a difficult concept to grasp

Common observations:

  • Students loved playing games
  • They like live-demonstrations and are very willing to volunteer
  • Interacting with the students with an ice-breaker before starting class was important to make them feel comfortable
  • Even though the students can speak English and prefer using scratch in English, it was necessary to have a translator to bridge the gap
  • They are very excited to learn and were open to learn. They were very persistent and patient with their laptops
  • We only taught for four days but we could see who were the leaders in the classroom, who understood the material and we made a conscious effort to make sure that everyone was at the same level

Problem encountered:

  • Mousepad when covered with dust, became harder to use.
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“The days pass, but laughter does not,” … by cmuprojectrwanda
June 19, 2010, 1:13 pm
Filed under: Planning

this was the title of a song Abhay, Jim, and I learned from the kids during one of our Tam Tam lessons and it has truly inspired me. Kigali has helped me grow so much. The children, my fellow team members, everyone who helped us and gave us the opportunity with utmost faith, and the Rwandan culture and people have left a permanent impression on my heart.

Tam Tam is a series of music applications on the XO laptops. The applications we taught included Tam Tam Mini, Tam Tam Jam, and Tam Tam Edit. Before we began teaching the first application however, we realized how important it was to convey to the students the purpose of learning music. I remember a late night planning meeting when we sat down together to finalize the agenda for the first lesson and Jim stopped midway, looked at us anxiously, and asked “Guys, why are we doing this? It’s very important for the children to understand why they are exploring music, what will they understand and get out of it?” He then crossed his hands, and while he sat back in his chair ruminating – he was clearly searching for a response from Abhay and myself.

I made an attempt to respond: music sparks creativity and is a form of expression. Music is universal language, it knows no boundaries and even though we have some language barriers here we are going to develop a strong bond with the children because music is something that ties us together. Music is everywhere, you don’t need fancy instruments — try clapping on a table or throwing pebbles in the water. The point is that the children can create their own music individually or together and take ownership of the experience. Music can be heard and it can also be visualized — the laptops are going to help us prove that. Responding to Jim’s question really helped me realize how quintessential it was for us to establish a strong foundation to what we were going to do the next morning.

Abhay seemed instantly motivated and made some pretty impressive beats with his hands and feet that really got the ball rolling for our planning. We planned to have an activity where each student could make his/her own instrument and opened our bag of kaboodles to explore the possibilities. We started playing and putting together chimes, bells, popsicle sticks, bamboo sticks, colorful streamers, and bottles to experiment while jamming (no pun intended here) to some XO beats on our new loud speakers! It was so much fun planning! Sruthi, Melvin, Josh, and Vishal decided to take a break from their programming lesson planning to see what the buzz was about and help us  figure out an instrument to make with our limited materials . It is important to note here that they are all engineers and making new instruments came with extraordinary ease to them. =)

All three groups worked really hard that night to ensure a strong start.

Day 1

Going to school early morning felt really good and I loved to see how active and responsible the children were. Every morning before the first session they clean their own classrooms and they would even help us bring out the laptop and supply boxes from the Headmistress’s office. Before and after school many of them play soccer, it’s a sport they just can’t get enough of!

What really saddened me however was the fact that there was only 1 water source for the whole school – a single faucet on the grounds and to see the kids always lined up there with these yellow jugs to get even a little bit of water.  I thought about how lucky I was to have had a water fountain at almost every corner in my elementary school.

Before we knew it, we were in the classroom and connecting the laptops to get started. “Muraaaahooo! Amakurue??” we said with excitement – that means “Hi, how are you?” in KinyaRwanda. Our whole team wanted to make a collective effort to make the kids feels as comfortable with us as possible, we tried our best to learn their language and had an ice breaker each day to get to know each other better. We still needed translators however given the time constraint and we had some great translators who not only helped us get the point across but who also went around helping with the laptops. For us, a special shout out to our translator Bonfils!  

Our ice breaker the first day was hot potato, but with a rainbow beachball — works the same right? 😉 Whoever was holding the ball once the music stopped had to tell us anything about themselves. Often we ended up singing and clapping together to favorite tunes.

To start off our discussion we really wanted to get a sense of what music meant to each person. In all six classes that day, the response we received the most was “happiness,” or “joy.”  I think the discussion went really well, it was great to see the students taking so much interest and actively participating, definitely eased our tensions coming in the first day knowing we might have to improvise a lot! We were so happy to get to know each other better as well as our musical tastes! We then made instruments together – Jim headed the bell and streamer instruments, Abhay the windchimes, and myself the drums. After everyone made their instruments we played them together and created some catchy beats. In this process, we gained an understanding of rhythm and coordination.

We then transitioned into Tam Tam Mini on the laptops for the rest of the lesson. The application is really cool as it has a variety of instrumentals including voice overs.

First day – went very well! But once we got into the van to head back, I was already thinking “these students are very bright, learning advance musical applications, programming, and acting … are we boring them? Should we turn it up a couple notches tomorrow and delve deeper, shouldn’t we be challenging them?”

Lesson planning, or meaningful lesson planning I should say, was harder that night than we anticipated. I gained  more of an appreciation for my professors who not only try to teach their subject matter, but also try to present and convey it in a way that would be interesting and dynamic to learn.

Day 2

Today we heard all of the children sing their national anthem before the first session, it was very touching.

Our icebreaker was a game of “what do you like?” we stood in a circle, one person would get into the center and say for example … “I like chocolate ice cream” and everyone else who liked the same would then run around, switch spots, and the one left would say what he/she liked and so forth. We were very hyped when a student said “I like Tam Tam!!” and everyone switched spots!!

We then began exploring Tam Tam Jam together by starting off with an introductory tempo and loop exercise – we stood in the same circle, Bonfils and Jim would clap their hands, I would stomp my feet, and Abhay would snap. We then repeated the four beats with everyone and went faster every round. We found these complementary exercises aside from the laptops to be really effective and fun for learning key musical concepts.

To test what we learned, we then had an activity where we created a beat on Tam Tam Jam, played it on the loudspeaker, and asked the students to replicate the beat. This was a challenge and difficult but we were ok with that, knowing that this would push them to delve deeper into the application to find the right instruments, loops, and tempo.

At this point I realized that we really had a productive Day 2 and it wouldn’t have been the case if it were not for the multiple OLPC interns and volunteers who helped tirelessly to fix glitches and aid our teaching with the kids.

Day 3

It’s Day 3 and it’s time for the students to really see how they can create their own music!!!  Our game of the day was a human knot activity which really helped to hone in on some teambuilding skills.

We explained that for the following day, we are having a “Nonko’s Coolest Band” competition where everyone is encouraged to participate and those selected would perform at the Finale. Bands were to create their own beats on the XO laptops.

We then went straight to work to show exactly how this could be done with Tam Tam Edit and explained measures, beats, how to add instrumentals, how to move notes up and down to create personalized loops etc. We then asked students to create a composition and play it on the loudspeakers for the class and we got so many volunteers!  That day we realized, not only are these students SUPER bright and SUPER at creating music, but they also AMAZING at dancing and jiving to their own beats!!  This was very very exciting, but this also meant our decisions on who was to perform the following day would be all the more harder.

We then wrapped up with a pitch activity where we sang Do Re Me in groups with different pitches.

At this point, I would just like to point out how fun each of our breaks were during the 4 days. I remember one break where Melvin and I grabbed the beachball and decided to toss it around outside with the kids, we went crazy and ran from one side to the other but we had to keep the ball within the main grounds and out of the gutters. With hundreds of kids, this proved to be a game within itself. I realized at that point that I never want to stop being a kid at heart and just enjoy the simple moments life has to offer. Also, I cannot talk about our breaks without talking about Ariel and Vishal dancing to bhangra and I think some hip hop — and in some ways, putting on a show for the kids who would stop and just look with amused expressions into the class room where we were on break! I was also really happy to get to know Jessica a little better during this time too, her helpfulness and eagerness to learn about our project meant so much to us.

Day 3 night was definitely the toughest night as far as planning went. Things were winding down fast, we had to come up with the best and most inclusive way to showcase the work of our students keeping in mind a 10 min. time constraint for each group for the finale, electrical limitations, and that things would have to be translated. On top of this we had some tensions within our group that night and I think each of us was stressed because we had different work styles and just wanted everything to go smoothly. I’d like to point out here that the one time we got frustrated with each other was not for personal reasons or any sort of drama, but it was over our project and wanting it to turn out amazing.  We worked so well together as an entire team and we take a lot of pride in that. I remember Waleed and Urna coming in to show us the masks the Record group made for the kids, and at a much needed time to restore the smile on our faces! In the words of Andrew Carnegie …  “my heart is in the work,” and that day, I felt like all of our hearts were in the work more than ever. 

Day 4

I’m feeling happy and sad – happy because I’m so excited for the students to show us what they’ve learned and sad because things were wrapping up and I want to spend more time at Nonko and in Kigali!!

Today at the beginning of class we wanted to have the kids teach us games they really like to play, one of them was cat and the mouse where we held hands and enclosed the “mouse” in a circle while the “cat” had to try to break in from the outside. We also played some competitive hand clapping games!

We started off with a review of the three programs and asked questions on key concepts, most of our questions were met with many hands to answer them which was a good sign!  

We gave the students 10-15 min to practice their performance before the competition. We then called everyone inside and started. We gave each person/group a score on a scale from 1 to 10 and then made a decision. All of the performances were wonderful and it was very very VERY hard to choose 1 or 2 from each class. Before each person/group performed we asked them to give us a band name and in every class we had one band name titled “Happiness.” The bands we chose were: Happiness  from Class 1, Happiness from Class 2, Me to You, Lions Gate, Soldier Babies, Intore, and Stars.

By the 6th and last class, we were feeling rather emotional. Multiple times during the lessons on all four days, Jim would have moments where he would just want to do something spontaneous and improvise and today was no exception. So we turned up the volume to “I gotta feeling” by Black Eyed Peas and we all danced and formed a train. We just went round and round holding hands and let loose.  It was definitely one of those Tam Tam moments.

Prepping for the finale the next day was a challenge – we had to compile a video from all the clips we had of the past 4 days and we had to figure out logistics for the performances. Somehow we got it done. I think everyone got some sleep that night, except for Josh, who stayed up the whole night working on the final Project video.   

The FINALE!

We arrived at Nonko early to get everything in place. The Finale would take place in a nearby Church. The Scratch and Record groups were not having live performances and ours took a little more prep time. The headmistress, so poised and amiable, took our list of names to multiple classes and asked the students to join us. We then wanted to cheer everyone on, and expressed our enthusiasm to see them perform. The hard part was getting every band’s laptops, labeling them, charging them up front, and making sure the music would play once they actually got up to perform but I think Abhay did a fantastic job of making things go fairly smoothly, he’s the collected one in our group which is a huge asset.

Everyone was seated – the students, some of their families, headmistress, teachers, Jimmy, Jessica, OLPC crew with interns and volunteers, and our translators.

It was time to start and my heart was beating so fast that I think it could have qualified to be a new instrument on the Tam Tam applications.

There was a surprise dance/vocal performance by some of the students in the beginning which was absolutely wonderful. We then played a Simon says ice breaker with everyone – Ariel did a great job being Simon!

The lineup was Scratch, Tam Tam, and Record for presentations and showcase of what we did. Josh presented for Scratch, myself for Tam Tam, and Ariel for Record. Seeing how much each team accomplished was so motivating and touching. Bonfils translated for all of us that day and he asked questions on each application to the students. It was great to see so many of them boldly get up and answer on the spot based on what they had learned.

Tam Tam showcase took the longest with some technical glitches but it was definitely spectacular! The bands really took ownership as they did their thing perfectly in sync with the music they created. One of our biggest regrets was that one band whose members even dressed up, did not get to play because their music file was not functioning. Jim tried fixing it to no avail. Nonetheless, we had a combination of traditional dances and break dances that both got the audience very hyped. I was teary-eyed.

At the end, we all gave heartfelt thank-you’s and gifted books, art supplies, soccer balls, and of course, the Tam Tam loud speakers to the Headmistress for the school. She was very happy to receive them.  We also wanted to take back something personalized so we asked the kids if they would sign a mural with their names and we also gave out tons and tons of chocolate and candy.

I didn’t want to say goodbye to the kids. We knew that our relationship would not end when we left from Nonko that day, and we wanted to make sure they knew too.

As we departed in the van that day…we kept the smiles on our faces, listened to “Forever Young” and reminisced.

We are so grateful for not only being given the opportunity by our campus community and OLPC but also for being given the trust and space we needed to develop the Project.

Trips to Lake Kivu, a soccer stadium, a memorial site, dinner with Professor Rugege and his family from the Ministry of Education, dinner with OLPC along with all our crazy moments around Kigali and late night conversations made for a tremendous complementary experience that is just unforgettable.

As our trip drew to a close … I realized “the days passed…” but the “laughter did not.” I was still laughing out of joy and I was as happy as could be knowing that we had such an impact and that we helped start something so simple and yet so magnificent.

This would only be the beginning of our newly formed relationships.

Amy



RECORD Plans/ What Actually Happened by cmuprojectrwanda
May 27, 2010, 9:05 am
Filed under: Planning

As we expected, our lesson plans had to be modified from what we had originally planned. Our overall theme of teaching lessons through “fables” went out the window-but this was perhaps for the best. Instead of teaching the students lessons, we actually learned quite a bit from them by allowing them to freestyle. Their values and beliefs came through their performances. Below, on behalf of the RECORD team, I have outlined our lesson plans prior to arriving in Rwanda and then what we actually did each day.

Day 1– Describe the art of conveying a message without words

*Shows that we can all work together regardless of what languages we speak, body language is an equally effective means of communication

-Facial exercises to express emotions–>happy, sad, upset, surprised, etc.

-Action–> movements with purpose-running, jumping,hugging, dancing, walking, crawling, crying

-Have them act out a popular folktale -Break into groups < 3 students

-Have the students act out the folktale without words, must be < 5 mins.

-Students will share their performance with the class

-Show them an example done by Ariel, Urna, Waleed

Actual Day 1– The same with the exception of the folktale and performances

-Explained the importance of non-verbal communication/how communication is more than just words

-Icebreaker: Simon Says (losing students had to introduce themselves prior to sitting out)

-Students took pictures of their emotions and gestures

-Students recorded their actions

-Ariel and Waleed performed a skit as Urna had the children guess our emotions and actions

*The children were very engaged. They did in fact understand the power of emotions/gestures/body language.

Day 2– Acting with words and actions

-The students will be more comfortable at this point and will find this much easier

-Share with them another folktale

-Urna and I will have acted it out and will show them our video performance of the folktale

-Have the students split up into groups once again, different groups from before and act out this folktale WITH WORDS

-Must be <5 mins.

-Students will share their performances with the class

Actual Day 2– Acting with words and actions. Objective: Brainstorming

-Asked the students what they learned yesterday and its significance

-Icebreaker: Round 1: In a circle, had the students say their names and do an action. Round 2: Had the students say their names, do an action, and had the entire class repeat the action

– Had the students split into groups of 3. Gave them scenarios and 20 minutes to come up with a skit.

– Had each group record and  perform skits.  Voted for the best- Decisions were difficult because the performances were great!

*Scenarios: Lost foreigner in need of direction, Teacher catches students cheating, Best friend moves out of town while new student looks for a friend, Trying to convince parents to buy a new game/ball, Wearing mother’s favorite necklace to school and losing it, Thinking birthday has been forgotten but a surprise party is thrown, Huge examination and trying to avoid going to school by feigning sickness

Day 3– Farm Animals!

-Show them the different sounds animals make

-The different actions typical of each animal

-Have them make masks to represent their different animals

-Read folktale, show video performance done by us

-Have the students perform (<5 mins)

-Students will share their performances

Actual Day 3– Farm Animals Mask-Making

-Asked the students what we had done the day before

-Icebreaker: Round 1: In a circle, students said their names and made an animal sound. Class had to guess the animal. Round 2: Students made the animal sound and performed the action of the animal.

-Asked students to yell out some animals typical of Rwanda

-Asked students what masks were/what they were used for

-Showed the students the masks we made the day prior and we had them guess the names of each of the animals. The students were split into animal groups (3-4 students per group). We had monkeys, cats, dogs, elephants, rabbits, and lions.

-Mask-making took longer than we expected. Materials were distributed and students spent the remainder of the class making their masks for tomorrow’s performances

Day 4– Show with Props and Scripts

-Explain the importance of props/scripts in performing– when and why they are used

-Read folktale, show video performance done by us

-Allow the students to create props of their choice

-Have the students write scripts for their shows

-Split up into groups, different groups from before and create performance

-Students will share their performances

Actual Day 4– Farm Animal Skits-Personality Malfunctions

-Students were split back into their animal groups

-Students were instructed to record and perform skits that exhibited actions characteristic of each animal. In each group, one of the animals had a “personality malfunction” and did things that were not typical of that animal (i.e. a cat that loved water).

*The skits were great! The one that stood out to us most was the one in which there were cats eating avocados and drinking milk and one of the cats refused to do so. (We didn’t even know that cats loved avocados!)

-We spent the last ten minutes telling the students about the finale and asking them to volunteer some of their masks to be exhibited

Day 5– Finale

-Each team: Scratch, Tam Tam, and Record exhibited the work they had done over the course of the week

-Live performances and video compilations

-Gifts were presented to the headmistress for the school: a signed card, art supplies, soccer balls, speakers, English books

-Students signed our Project Rwanda cloth and were given candy

-Lots of photo-taking

~Ariel Solomon (RECORD team)



Less than a week till Rwanda! by cmuprojectrwanda
May 5, 2010, 2:12 pm
Filed under: Planning

We are approaching our travel date for Rwanda and it is crunch time for lesson plans and last minute details.  This week we are having a marathon of meetings, finalizing lesson plans as well as getting together our supplies for the trip.

Currently most of us are busy, as it is finals week here at Carnegie Mellon University. However our dedication to the team and the project can be shown through our 11pm meetings and our enthusiasm for our lessons! Here is a sneak peak :

Record with Ariel, Urna, and Waleed

Experience classic fables re-told by the children of Kagugu through different methods of expression all recorded and showcases on the activity Record in their XOs.

Tam-Tam with Amy, Abhay, and Jim

A laptop orchestra which incorporates both sounds and visuals in their original compositions through african and international instruments on the activity Tam-Tam in the XOs.

Scratch with Josh, Melvin, Vishal, and Sruthi

The children will construct a virtual storytelling world with characters focusing on relationships and conflict resolutions through the activity Scratch in their XOs.

And much more!

–Urna



Scratch Lesson Plan updates by cmuprojectrwanda
May 4, 2010, 2:49 am
Filed under: Planning

Lesson planning for the two programming activities, Scratch and Etoys, has begun!

Scratch is a more basic program while Etoys is for advanced users. We agreed that since scratch was a simpler program, we would spend less time teaching the kids how to actually press the buttons and more time how to actually utilize Scratch in a more purposeful way. It’s not too difficult to launch the Scratch activity and put random blocks together to create a random animal moving is random directions. What is more challenging is to use Scratch to create a story with a setting, a plot, and different characters that interact with one another.

After some research we came across a great online resource to help us:
http://scratch.mit.edu

This site already had detailed lesson plans on how Scatch can be used by kids.
One plan that we all found particularly interesting was to use Scratch to tell a fable. This would allow the kids to use an activity on the XO laptop to tell a story while learning about story structure and a creative way to convey a moral. We could also tie in current Rwandan issues with the story.

There are still many possibilities and we are currently researching them and narrowing down our options.

Check out some fables made from scratch here:
http://scratch.mit.edu/galleries/view/37347

-Melvin



First Video Conference with Qatar members and LAPTOPS! by cmuprojectrwanda
April 24, 2010, 9:10 pm
Filed under: Planning

This past week has been a very exciting week for us!

Monday started off early with a video Conference with our new members @ CMU Qatar. The conference started at 8am US Eastern time and 3pm Qatar time. Despite the fact that most of us were going on less than 5 hours of sleep from the busy days of carnival, we were enthusiatic to meet our fellow members through the Samsung widescreen TV and have them jump on board with all our plans. Josh, Amy and Sruthi briefed Waleed, Abhay and Jimmy on our summit plans, however the meeting was not all business and we got to learn some interesting things about Qatar such as the current temperature in Doha reaches 100 degrees!

We also had another reason to be excited- our XOs arrived! The laptop is like nothing I have ever seen before! To describe it by one word- Cool. Although designed for children, the Laptop itself has many sophisticated activities where we can incorporate a lot of creativity and collaboration. Currently we are all trying to get accustomed to the Sugar Interface by downloading it on our personal computers and playing around with it.  You can do everything on it and more and it certainly made me rethink my $1200 macbook.

Wednesday and Thursday we secured further financial support and departmental support. We are very grateful to all the help we are receiving and the genuine interest around CMU campus about our project!



Introducing… KAGUGU Primary School! by cmuprojectrwanda
April 20, 2010, 11:17 am
Filed under: Planning

We recently got confirmation for our school in Kigali and we couldn’t be more excited! The school has more than 4000 students attending!

We can now go ahead and plan our curriculum. A couple of things we are deciding on: how many kids and who to teach. Some of these kids can already use the laptops so we can teach them more complex activities such as programming but others have very minimum experience so we will have to teach them the basics.

The school day is divided into two parts: Younger kids go in the morning and the older kids arrive in the afternoon. We plan to teach two groups during the part of the day they will not be in school.

We are very interested to find out how we can teach the children because our methods of teaching are not even close to their methods of learning. We want to teach the students how to brainstorm ideas and collaborate. Our goals are to focus on the three T’s- Teach, Techy & Twitter

On a side note: We have three new members from Qatar Campus!!