OLPCorps MIT Kenya Proposal
Our three-member team consists of Eli Ben-Joseph, Monica Hu, and Joel Veenstra. We are all upperclassmen at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and we are excited for this opportunity to work with elementary school students in Mombasa, Kenya. We have been in contact with the Aga Khan Education Service in Kenya (AKESK) and have attached a letter of sponsorship from them. Our basic plan is to teach two four-week long summer sessions to elementary school children in Mombasa, with the help of Mombasa high school students.
 Logistics and Curriculum
In Mombasa, Kenya, we plan to partner with the Aga Khan Education Service (AKESK). For both of our 4-week long summer programs, we will use volunteer high school students from the area as additional mentors. The AKESK will provide us with these high school students from their high school in Mombasa. For the high school students, this will be a great opportunity to become exposed to OLPC, work with younger students, and would be a great addition to their applications for college. For us, this partnership will ensure sustainability in our project because we will provide the high school students with adequate training so that they can continue this project at the end of the summer and into the following years. These high school students will be able to hold OLPC seminars during the school year. We will be able to maintain contact with the students through email and by partnering with AKESK, we will be able to store all the OLPCs at the school.
We plan to teach the elementary kids using a four-week curriculum. During the first week, we will introduce them to the basic applications of the laptop, teach them how they can use the internet to find answers to questions, and have them play educational games so that they can learn to use the OLPC as a tool for both learning and entertainment. The second week will involve more advanced functions such as basic programming as well as setting up internet chat rooms (virtual pen pals) with the other OLPC teams and their students. The theme of the third week will be “Spread the word!” and we will apply the team-based skills learned in week two. The kids will work in groups of 5-10 and research a project pertaining to Kenya (history, sports, etc.) The last week will involve Kenya project presentations as well as a review and feedback day so that we can improve our curriculum with each run-through of the session.
For communication, Joel is able to speak Swahili because he attended high school in the Rift Valley in Kenya. We can also use the high school students to help us translate, but overall we do not think communication will be an issue because most school systems in Kenya are taught in English.
We believe that our curriculum will have a great impact on the elementary aged kids. As a result, they will use it more often and share the information with their families and friends, promoting the spread of technology in Kenya. Additionally, because the children are young, they will be able to grow up using a laptop. This power will allow them to join the global economy without some of the disadvantages faced by their ancestors. For example, many foreign students currently learn various subjects over the internet using MIT’s OpenCourseWare (OCW) technology. By teaching these children to use a laptop, they will be able to access OCW when they are in high school and preparing for standardized testing for university entrance. Sustainability Another exciting aspect that MIT brings uniquely to this program is its Public Service Center (PSC). We plan on using the PSC for additional funding for this project. In addition, the PSC can fund future groups to visit the same or neighboring schools in Kenya (and use the same OLPCs) and these groups can either teach our same curriculum, or they can modify it. This can be done either during our month long break in January (perfect for one session) or during the summer. Additionally, the high school students that help us during the summer can hold their own one-day or weekend-long OLPC sessions during the school year to continue the spread of technology around both Mombasa and all of Kenya.
The goal for our four-week long OLPC programs in Mombasa, Kenya is to spread the power of technology to regions that don’t usually have access to it. As students at MIT, we have been blessed with the unique opportunity to witness the power of technology and innovation. The founding principle of our school is the application of science and engineering to better the world, and the OLPCorps Africa program is the perfect embodiment of this principle.
We hope that you will give us an opportunity to carry out our curriculum.