Here is an initial report from the team at the Fishermen Trust. They installed and commissioned their first school with the Zoombinis software in early August 2013.
“Greetings from The Fishermen Trust. We trust you are doing well.
We arrived at the school today and asked the Headmistress to send the 7th grade students according to their roll number. We taught two batches of four students, with each batch taking different lengths of time to grasp the concepts of the game. We were forced to stop due to a power outage.
We then asked a teacher and the Headmistress to form computer period for the students in which they can try out the game fully. We also selected two boys from the seventh grade who seemed adept in the concepts of the game and showed ability to teach others.”
And here are some photos of the team working with the pupils and with one of their teachers:
It started with an invitation to speak at a conference in Bangalore on Software Testing in July 2013. For various reasons the trip included 2 weekends which I wanted to use wisely. Before the trip I was introduced to Raj, of a small Christian organisation called The Fishermen Trust. His organisation helps various schools around the Bangalore area and in Tamil Nadu state amongst other work.
Ahead of the trip Raj and I had a couple of discussions by Skype and email about some of the challenges these schools face. In terms of technology many of the schools had at least one computer for the children to use, some had over twenty computers in a classroom. However, none of these computers were being used by the pupils. The computers were typically old computers donated or scavenged from corporations, with an old version of Microsoft Windows installed. However they’d not been prepared or commissioned for the schools to use, the teachers lacked the skills, understanding or knowledge of how to use them at all, and in most cases there were major problems with the mains power.
I managed to obtain around 100 copies of an excellent software known as Zoombinis. The Zoombinis is educational software devised as various games. Each game requires thinking skills and presents problems to be solved to ‘save’ small creatures called Zoombinis. There are at least five variations of Zoombinis software, most of our copies are of Zoombinis Mountain Rescue.
We agreed to spend both Saturdays visiting schools so I could get involved first hand and learn as much as practical about ways to help the schools and the pupils. I’ll cover the school visits and the findings in additional blog posts here.
About the Zoombini Games
There are three titles in the Zoombinis series of games. Of these, the Logical Journey was the original title and the best in my view. Several companies acquired the original game and released refreshed versions of the title, sadly their changes did little to improve the product. The newer versions and games are in wider circulation, the original being from 1996 is hard to find these days. The original is the most tolerant in terms of working on a variety of computers.
Here are links to Wikipedia articles about each of the games.
Teachers across Kenya were on strike when the time came to wrap up the pilot project. This meant the schools were closed so the visiting team were unable to see the Kindles in use at the schools. However the teachers kindly found time to meet our volunteer team who had flown from the UK to interview them. Our volunteer team are:
Here is a photo of one of the interviews:
The strike also delayed some of the follow up work for the pilot project in terms of implementing some aspects of the next phase of the project. However, the strike has since finished and I understand the schools will be open for several weeks in August to compensate for the time the schools were closed by the strike.
We will cover the interviews in more detail and the findings of the initial pilot project in additional articles.
We launched another school, Apondo Secondary School, Oyugis as part of the visit of the youth team from Hazlemere Church. They are the seventh school to participate in the project.
They now have 3 Kindles, a 3G WiFi router to connect the Kindles to the Internet, and various sources of power to keep everything up-and-running. The local team in Kenya will provide a suitable 3G SIM card for the WiFi router and help commission the devices.
This is the second of the schools to try using a WiFi router. We hope the router will prove to be reliable and cost-effective. Routers enable the schools to use a wider variety of Kindles and devices and help to reduce the costs of the equipment for schools with 3 or more devices.
helping teachers to help each other, and their pupils in Kenya and beyond