Update: We are fundraising for the next year’s activities! We really loved doing this electronics camp, contribute to our Milaap campaign so that we can do the same thing in Kolkata this year.
There are many wonderful things about returning to Ranchi, Jharkhand! From the cool temperatures, to the wondrous food, and getting to spend some time in the hometown of legendary Cricketer, Dhoni, how could we not fall in love?
Despite the decades that have passed since the Naxal insurgency and the struggle for revolution that plagued that time period, the Naxal imprint is not just history, it’s something that lives on. Some of the girls we work with live in Naxal territory just outside of the city, while others live in Jagannathpur, a messy sprawl of an urban “slum” not far from the Jagannath Temple. In Ranchi we learned a few things from our conversations with parents, children and their field workers, namely that our kids don’t get to spend a lot of time with computers. One of our biggest worries is that the children aren’t learning technology and as a result they’ll miss out on opportunities. Our children don’t even have basic computer skills which are becoming essential in seeking opportunities in the future. Our children are just as smart and talented as their counterparts in Dehli and Mumbai even though they’re not always afforded the same opportunities. We don’t think technology is the only way to solve the world’s problems, but we do believe technology can play some role.
With the help of our volunteers from Singapore we set forth to launch our very first Electronics Boot Camp. We hoped to inspire girls to see the value of technology in our world and in their everyday lives. For many of our children electricity had little to no relevance. Without even having lights in their homes, how do we expect them to want to learn how to connect a circuit? Light is important. Just as important as science, computers, technology, experimentation, and wild failures and wondrous learning through curiosity and action.
The goal for our Electronics Boot Camp was to give our kids in Ranchi a new kind of challenge! We didn’t want them to simply just learn or memorize information about electricity, we wanted to facilitate a hands on approach that would allow them to work together to build something fun and really figure out what electricity is all about. We hosted the workshop in two locations, one being an urban setting and one being a rural setting. While the kids involved had varying levels of skill and interest in the topic, they all had one thing in common: they were all extremely engaged in trying, learning and most importantly learning by trying.
Their objective was to make an LED light come on, and to take things one step further and also figure out how to make a sound buzzer go off. Our objective was to facilitate inclusivity, encourage diversity, and remind our children that kids rule the world. To foster inclusivity, we opened our Electronics Boot Camp to both boys and girls. We encouraged the girls to still take charge and approach the tasks with an “I can do this!” attitude. We embraced diversity by bringing together kids of different ages, skill levels and interests and pairing them with an experienced educator that embraced student centered learning. We reminded kids that they are the true leaders of world by taking a backseat to their understanding, innovation and collaboration. We encouraged children to take the lead from the very start, to make their own rules, and to be candid about what worked and what didn’t. It was a wonderful thing to see children that live in such a hierarchical society and that come from economically disadvantaged backgrounds be leaders. We know from our work in the field that providing children with the opportunity and space to practice leadership is much more important than any economic or academic indicator; and a necessary step in grooming successful, well-adjusted scholars.
We learned a lot from our first Electronics Boot Camp and are excited to make a few tweaks to make the workshop even better the next time around. For starters we’d like to host the Electronics Boot Camp during each vacation. Another future goal is to set forth a project that’s engaging to children of different skills and abilities, we want to challenge our advanced children but also want less skilled children to learn the concepts and actively participate as well. We want to continue encouraging our young girls to take charge, to feed their curiosity and continue to excel along their male counterparts. Other ideas include catering to more advanced students by linking vocational training or higher education opportunities and teaching public speaking and presentation skills.
Do you have a passion for teaching electronics? We have events in different cities in India from time to time, just sign up here as a volunteer to learn more.