Project: Digital Library
Our first goal is to give the students access to educational resources on a digital platform. As a high school student, when I am not confident in a certain topic in school, I use educational resources like Khan Academy, Crashcourse, and Quizlet. I have access to video tutorials, flashcards, quizzes, and games. As these digital educational resources have a significant impact on our learning, we wanted to give all these students access to these resources. To begin this process, we reached out to potential donors through a GoFundMe campaign. Through this process, we raised over $4000 , which was used to buy Acer tablets with Windows 10 software. We set up this library in one school (a government aided school), and created a sustainability plan to ensure continued use. We hope to learn from this experience and expand this project to various other schools in the future.
The students really seemed to enjoy this program. After introducing it, students would always come in asking for the tablets. It was heartwarming to see their enthusiasm for the technology. Students were collaborating and teaching each other to use the tablets, which helped build a stronger sense of community. The students are very sharp and fast learners. We taught a few how to use the computer one day, and they were able to teach their friends the next. It was truly inspiring.
Project: STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) Workshop:
Our second goal is to bring STEM education to low-income schools in a hands-on format. For this goal, we hosted a STEM workshop for the students in grades 7, 8, and 9 in one of the schools, with the help of volunteers from Nokia. This workshop included hands-on activities and taught the concepts of aerodynamics, structure, composition, tension, buoyancy, surface area, and basic programming. This workshop was a success; as depicted by the satisfaction of the school administration, teachers, and students. This workshop seemed to spark interest in many students, as depicted through their enthusiasm and skills. Students collaborated throughout the workshop and participated in group discussions. Many students asked meaningful questions about the topic. We hope this workshop helped build on the fundamentals taught in school, through the hands-on activities, and sparked curiosity among the students. We look forward to conducting more activity-based STEM workshops in the future.
Our third goal is to bring a strong sense of community and encourage collaborative learning. To achieve this, we created a program for peer mentoring, where students from higher classes who are proficient in a certain subject can tutor students in lower classes who need attention in the same subject. The core belief behind Peer2Peer learning is that all students are experts on something and can share their knowledge with each other. Essentially, Peer2Peer learning capitalizes on the fact that students can be each other’s best educational resources.
Project: Integrated Curriculum:
Another goal we have is to bring about a theme-based curriculum in the low-income schools of India, as opposed to rote-based. As Mantra4change already follows a model similar to the theme-based curriculum, we added certain aspects of the theme-based curriculum to create an integrated curriculum. This curriculum switches the order of the outcome and goal and determines the activities that would achieve each learning goal ahead of time. It contains organized and group-driven activities with enough flexibility for each student/group of students to investigate different ideas.
Project: Nanna Kannu Eye Camp:
A common issue in these communities is that many students have vision problems. This affects the students’ learning, and often times causes them to give up on school. In order to target this issue, we met with Sankara Eye Foundation to organize the Nanna Kannu eye camp in one of the schools. For this eye camp, doctors from Sankara Eye Foundation conduct free vision tests for students and faculty in low-income schools and provide them with the necessary treatments (free glasses or consultations for more serious issues). We conducted two eye camps, one on July 6th and the other on July 10th. This eye camp was successful and helped various students get the proper eye care treatment they needed.
Project: Creating a quiet and comfortable workspace:
Additionally, we also revamped a room in one of the schools in order to create a quiet and comfortable learning environment for students, where they can read, use computers, and collaborate on school work.
In order to redo this room, we painted the walls, added cupboards, and added pillows and mats. This room is now used a learning space for students.