The Intel Education Service Corps (IESC) is a short-term service and career development opportunity for a select group of Intel employees to travel to a developing country to support the deployment of Intel-powered Classmate PCs. In this blog, Brett Buyack, a technology expert from Intel HR, recaps his team’s second week of experiences in Ecuador.
In our previous blog post we wrote about the first week of our two week visit to Ecuador, as part of the Intel Education Service Corps. The purpose of our trip was to assist in the deployment of Intel Classmate PCs at a rural school in Machala, Ecuador. This included training of both the teachers and students, so that after our departure they could use the equipment in their day-to-day lesson plans. The effort is supported by both the local municipality and Fundacion Nobis.
With a very successful first week behind us, our attention shifted to how to cover as much as possible in the last five days remaining. The students attend school in the morning until just after lunch, when they head home. The afternoon is teacher preparation time. So our strategy was to attend the classes in the morning and support the teachers in using the computers in their lessons, and in the afternoon provide training to the teachers to help them in preparing for their next day’s lessons.
Because of varying levels of computer experience with the teachers, we continued to divide into groups and teach them at their level. Also, the teachers represented different grade levels, and so the lesson plans for second or third grade teachers were much different than those for sixth or seventh grade teachers.
The real reward came in the mornings when we were able to work with the teacher and the children and actually see their excitement as they used the computers in their lesson. Their eyes would light up as they got to use the computers to complete the activity assigned. Although there were varying levels of experience with the computers, it was amazing to see how quickly the children learned on the computers, especially the younger children.
The students completed various activities using the Intel Classmate PC. The younger children practiced identifying the letters of the alphabet or colors, while the older children were able to research a topic and then actually take a quiz on the topic that the teachers had setup previously and administered via the computers.
Other companies are developing products that integrate with the Intel Classmate PC as well. For example, we brought some Lego Education WeDo robotics kits that allow the children to setup various Lego creations, such as a Parrot that can flap its wings through the use of a small USB Motor, and then control those through the computer.
We also brought some science sensors and lab experiments from PASCO Scientific that we gave to the school. PASCO makes a device that can connect through the USB port and integrate with science lessons to take measurements on temperature, noise, and light levels, among other things. PASCO also provides science lessons on the computer that the teachers are able to easily integrate into a lesson plan.
As we wrapped up the week, the reality that we were going to be leaving began to set in. It’s amazing how attached you can become to a group of people in a short two weeks. On the final day the school presented us with formal certificates of our work completed as a gesture of gratitude. We took turns each sharing thoughts on what a wonderful experience it had been. We took some pictures and had a few tears shed as we prepared to leave this humble school, feeling good that we were able to make a difference there.