I began with a poll. How many had Facebook accounts? (75%) How many had email accounts? (only one boy raised his hand). How many go to the local cyber to get online at least once a week? (Only 1 or 2). How many use mobile phones to go online? (about one-third). Then I asked how many have never sat down at a computer, either at the local cyber or anywhere else: one-third of the students raised their hand. That’s about 13 students. Have you met 13 teenagers that could say the same?
Where to start?
I had planned to show them how to use email, create and share a basic Google document, use Skype, and so forth. It turns out that even though I had packed my transformer and projector in my luggage, I forgot the one HDMI cord that would connect them. Just like that, I was without a projector in front of a classroom of students staring at me. I had a backup pico-projector that projects my iPad, but only on certain apps and the lighting was too bright for it. So, instantly I had to switch gears. I resorted to a tried-and-true technology: the whiteboard and marker.
Then I introduced them to STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education and said we would be doing a little bit of each one, not just technology. We divided into stations. Some students took pictures with the two cameras I brought. Some filmed with the Flip. Some built bridges or DNA using K’nex I had brought (yes, my luggage was heavy). Some built Archimedean solids using various snap-together shapes. I wanted them to just explore different tools they normally don’t get to. When the time came to switch groups, no one wanted to. They were happy doing what they were doing, so I left it at that. Students took all the photos, by the way. I had given away every device I brought, so I relied on them completely to document the experience. They didn’t disappoint.
I’m sad that in the flurry of activity and busy-ness, no one reminded me that they had prepared a dance to perform. I really wanted to see it and get it on film. Sorry, guys. You’ll have to film it and post it to the blog now.
It’s always an adventure and a pleasure to introduce some tech tools where few have gone before. These are such a great kids and I have no doubt in their abilities to navigate their futures to make a difference in their local communities. They are off to a great start, and I thank them and their teachers for their time and kindness towards me.