IESC Kenya: Clap Your Hands and Say “Yeah!”

The Intel Education Service Corps (IESC) is a short-term service and career development opportunity for Intel employees to support the deployment of Intel classmate PCs in developing countries. In this blog, Joe Welsh, a pre-sales engineer at Intel, recaps his team’s second week of experiences in Kenya.

From high school freshman using Wikipedia to toddlers clapping their hands with glee after coloring a picture, it is exciting to see the classmate PC used in such different settings. Our IESC team -Tawny, Joe, Ferg, Max, and Megan – just concluded an incredibly successful second week with Orphans Overseas at the Karibu Center. Our mission was nothing less than to help provide 120 preschoolers with a new medium for cognitive development.

Orphans Overseas is a fantastic organization that provides free education and meals for impoverished youngsters from Thika (a town 25 miles northeast of Nairobi) while helping their mothers to find work. One of the center’s challenges has been dealing with limited teaching resources. With one teacher for every 60 students, teachers often engage in “listen and recite” type learning, which has limited the teachers’ ability to address individual student needs and provide more advanced methods of learning.

 

Orphans Overseas founder Jorie Kincaid’s ICT experience both as an educator and with her own children has led to her conviction that using computers can augment a child’s development. This planted the seeds for the relationship between Orphans Overseas and the Intel Education Service Corps. And because the Intel classmate PC is rugged, compact, and energy efficient, it is ideally suited for the classrooms at the Karibu Center.

Our team’s deployment was focused on providing the maximum opportunity for learners to engage with the center’s 25 new Intel classmate PC (the convertible tablet version). We started by teaching 60 4-5 year old learners with three half-hour sessions to learn how to use the mouse and keyboard. By the fourth lesson these first-time computer users were able to independently navigate and interact with a coloring book and basic counting application. Now, the students are able to independently engage with educational software such as Rusty and Rosy Learn with Me™ from the Waterford Institute, provide customized reading instruction, memory retention exercises, and more advanced mathematical concepts.

On the first day we introduced a simple program that required the learners to use the mouse/touchpad to drag a crayon across the screen, after which the picture would fill with color and come to life with animation and sound. The learners would burst into jubilation upon accomplishing this challenge – clapping their hands and cheering “Yeah!”

The next lessons focused on finer mouse manipulation and using the left click button by having the students pick colors from a palette then clicking areas of a drawing to fill them in with color. We could hardly keep up with all the learners calling us over to show us their wonderful work and skills (see embedded video above)!

In our last session, students were able to use a basic counting program, counting different objects on the screen then using the mouse to navigate and click on the correct answer of four possible answers presented. The highlight of the week came when the learners demonstrated all of this to their parents during an open house on their last day with us. Simply amazing!

In addition to training the 4-5 year olds, we were also able to provide 60 three-year-olds with the same experience of using the mouse to color the picture. In addition, we were able to train teachers and staff on various educational software titles, PC maintenance tools, and also programs for single mothers that teach typing and improve their reading and writing skills. Our team also helped reduce Orphans Overseas internet costs by 90% and greatly improved the effectiveness of their local area network.

At the end of the week our team couldn’t help but feel a tremendous amount of pride and satisfaction knowing how our work positively impacted Orphans Overseas ability to serve the needs of these extremely worthy children and the Thika community. To see the awe on the youngsters’ faces as they experienced these new learning tools was priceless, and we consider ourselves extremely lucky for the chance to be part of that.

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