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School Environment

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One fine Monday morning I woke up, washed my face, prepared breakfast and around 9, I headed out for the office in my bicycle. On the way, I saw few boys waiting for a school bus. Another boy came rushing towards his friends. The boy looked very excited. The excitement in him made me think  how times have changed. When I was his age, I was never excited to go to school. And I can hardly remember any of my friends being that excited to go to school. Had there not been my friends at school, I guess I would have forced my parents to take me out of the school. The boy was in such a rush that I assumed he had something to share with his friends. I stopped my bicycle to listen to their conversation. The boy screamed that it was a holiday. And everyone was so happy. Some of them were literally dancing at the stop. I then, realized that time hasn’t changed much. Few seconds after, one of his friends asked why it was a holiday. The boy said that someone from their school had passed away. And the next question I heard from one of them was very hurtful. I couldn’t believe my ears. He asked how many days will their school remain closed? Was that supposed to be his next question? I then realized schools these days are even worse than in my time. I would at least show concern about such serious issues rather than focusing on holidays. What kind of environment are we creating inside our schools? At any cost, students just want to skip school. This made me realize that those students were going to the school just because they had to. They had no other options. How will students learn when they don’t enjoy going to school? If I had my own school, the following would be a few beginning steps to make school environment more friendly.

 

No school uniform:

We have a unique way of expressing love to our child. We try to provide them with their demand without any question. We don’t expect them to help us in the household work. This makes them feel that they are unique. And when they enter the professional world they realize that they are no longer different than their colleagues. They are all the same. People don’t treat them as the special one. Suddenly everything becomes so hard for them to cope in the professional world. I believe having school uniform will help students learn that everyone is same. But that is something that has to be changed at home rather than school. Having said that, school uniform leaves us with only disadvantages.

Birthdays used to be my best days at school. I could wear any dress I wanted while going to school. I remember how my teachers and friends praised my personality looking at my outfit on my birthdays. I didn’t want to look like hundreds of my other friends. I wanted to create my own identity. But my school rules only allowed me to live my dream once every year. During Dashain, my family used to take me out for shopping. And when they ask me to choose a dress I like, I used to request them to choose one for me. It took me a long time after I completed my school years to figure out it was OK to choose my own dresses. Letting students choose their own dress will help them become more independent. They will learn to express themselves. I agree that sometimes they might choose to wear  dresses that are inappropriate for the school. This is when we, as a teacher, have to intervene and tell them why that is inappropriate. And most of the time you don’t even have to tell them. They will feel that something is wrong with their dressing style. This is how children learn. They need to experience the things before they believe it.

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Modify assemblies:

School is a community with large number of people with all possible ages. It is quite rare to see all students in one place at the same time. The only time they are together is during morning assembly. Assemblies help students and teachers to give the sense of community inside the school. But the way assemblies are conducted in schools does not look like it’s a community. It looks like some military troops are standing in a line for their training. Morning prayers and marching are the only things students do during assemblies.

We can tweak few things to make morning assemblies more effective and interesting for students. This is the perfect time to mix different grades together and perform  group work. This is the time where students can learn from their elder or younger peers. This is also the opportunity for teachers from different grades to interact with students.

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No desk and benches facing teachers:

Each and everyone inside the class has different life experiences. Everyone inside the class has their own expertise and certain set of skills. Classroom definitely is not a place with only one skilled person, teacher. But the way desk and benches are arranged in class gives that notion. Here is the link to the blog I wrote few months ago on different classroom setting.

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Things I mentioned above are some basic steps that can be implemented in school without much preparation and additional infrastructure. Although there are other things that we need to change like the relation between teacher and students, teaching techniques to follow inside the classroom, these are the things that can be changed with very less effort. The above listed steps are not ideal. We might have to tweak these steps little bit to adjust it according the school and students.

– Roshan Bhatta

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Our Experience of the Creative Computing Session

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36We as high school students had a very little or no teaching experience and we never thought that we would be teaching a class.When we were first offered the opportunity to take a class about arduino (a computing platform) for teachers of various schools, we were really excited as it would be a new experience and we would learn a lot. We, without a doubt accepted the offer as why would we miss such a great chance? .But, we didn’t realize that it would be fun . As it was our first formal teaching experience, we were nervous. But it was not long that we really started to enjoy it. We also experienced organizing the workshop, and making everything ready for the class. We got to know how the workshops are prepared i.e we were involved in arranging all the materials needed to run the class, collecting information relating to the workshop, and going through the plan in detail.

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Interconnected Embedded Systems – MIT’s Intro EECS Class at Karkhana

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This blog post is written by Ashim Sitoula, a former Karkhana intern, who is currently studying at MIT.

Let’s face it – trying to make cool things using technology in Nepal can be a challenge, especially if you’re a high-school student or even a college student. Whether it’s building your first robot or learning to program a microcontroller, the odds are against your favor. Here are a few real-life scenarios:

  1. Circumstances out of your control come in the way of your awesome idea. Perhaps your school turns you down when you approach them for assistance; you are instead told to focus on your studies. You hear similar things back home as exams are soon approaching.
  2. If the situation is slightly better, you have everything set in place only to find out that the component you’re looking for is out of stock in the market; it’s only arriving the next month.
  3. In rare cases, everything’s worked out perfectly and you’re looking to raise the functionality of your project but you’re stuck without technical assistance.

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Re-engineering perceptions — women in STEAM

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Img source : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vera_Rubin

Vera Rubin

As part of my engagement with Karkhana I have been exploring various threads of thought around technology, amateur contributions to science and technology  and the interplay between gender and STEAM. The passing of Vera Rubin, a critical astronomer of the last century, precipitated some connections between different strands of conversations I have been having here in Kathmandu with women in STEAM and Rubin’s own experience as a woman in science.

Irina, a research assistant at Karkhana, speaks about her years in engineering school with disdain. As she entered the final year and was introduced to hands-on and other practical usage of theories she had learned through the years, and she had finally begun to enjoy the course. Projects were her thing, she hadn’t fared particularly well with memorizing derivatives but she loved bringing theories to life by making. Her final project, a quadcopter, not only worked perfectly but also looked presentable. But instead of encouragement, her teachers raised doubts about whether she had done it herself. Read more

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My Journey at Karkhana

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“The green gate, five blocks away from USEF.” This was the first instruction I received to find my way to Karkhana for a web page design workshop organized by #MakerKT. With full enthusiasm, I attended the workshop and made new friends. Karkhana had its own charisma, although I was not directly involved.

After participating in two #MakerKT workshops, Sachet dai, Chief Operating Officer at Karkhana, asked me if I wanted to volunteer for an event. Frustrated by the pressure of entrance exams, I  needed a break and the prospect of getting involved in an actual workplace seemed exciting. So, I agreed.

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The next day I went to Karkhana and met their team of tinkerers, makers and enthusiasts: some laughing at a viral Youtube video, some counting pencils in a pack, some cutting precise shapes on the laser cutter and some working on an upcoming event. As a shy newcomer who takes some time to open up, I met two interns- Sona and Sagun (who are my partners in crime now). And of the many things I’ve gained from Karkhana, I’ve learned the most by observing the two of them. Their encouragement has helped me become an independent leader.

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At the Innovation in Education Faire 2016

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Makers, hackers or slackers?

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I sat down with Marc on the last day of K_space to chat about his work and ended up having a long conversation about the socio-political meaning of hacking, the direction in which the maker movement is headed, hacking as a teaching method and gender dynamics within the technical field. The interview, transcribed below, is a great explainer on what making and hacking looks like outside of the vacuum of  technical fields and instead embedded within society, politics and history.

Let’s start with your take on the hype behind the maker movement, what do you think about the notion that it’s instigating a third industrial revolution?
I was in Manchester in May/June where I had a meeting with a Chinese maker movement. Manchester was the pioneering place for the first industrial revolution but look at how Manchester has suffered from it; the first European slums were in Manchester, the poverty and misery in Manchester during the first industrial revolution even inspired people like Engels and Marx to study its aftermath. So it was ironic that I was in Manchester having a conversation about 3D printing in the midst of the maker culture hype that it is ushering in a third industrial revolution.
I come from a technophilic background but the more I pay attention to technology in social, cultural and educational contexts, the more my attention shifts towards how technology impacts society. The real challenges today have primarily come through technology–climate change and so on–which we now try to fix with technology. This is not the right approach because these problems come from the unstudied hype and anticipation regarding an industrial revolution. By focusing so much on technical solutions we neglect the political pressure and social study needed to solve problems. The search for technical solutions has reached exaggerated heights especially with space exploration, which is a problem by itself as the message that we’re giving in the way we do space exploration is that that we messed things up in this planet so now it’s time to find an alternate place to live. Read more

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Getting Hands On (K_Space Day 2)

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We broke out our “maker hats” and toolkits first thing this morning, and got our hands dirty with some cool technology workshops: Antenna Making and Arduino for Beginners. The rest of the day was also full of capacity building, with a little art-filled lunch break in between.

Antenna Making Workshop

With just $5 worth of materials, Karkhana’s Irina Sthapit taught us to make the classic Yadi-Uda antenna, best known today for its as a TV antenna.

Building these from scratch was literally a nuts and bolts affair, involving precise measuring, drilling, sawing, soldering, and coaxial cable stripping. Read more

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People Ready (K_Space Day 1)

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The energy level was still high at the end of our first long day of the K_Space conference at the Karkhana premises today.

Twenty participants working across South and Southeast Asia have gathered to share our various skills and expertise, including educators, designers, social entrepreneurs, makers and the Karkhana team.

“Just to have the opportunity to work with such a diverse group is fascinating. You have a guy from Switzerland, a guy from England, a girl from Malaysia,” said Milan KC, principal of Gurukul school in the Pokhara valley. “I was very much struck by their way of thinking. It’s refreshing. You feel like you’re growing.” Read more

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From Just An Intern To More Than An Intern || Part 1

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After the earthquake that shook Nepal in April 2015, I decided to give my CIE* in October instead of May. This meant that I had to take a gap year.

I spent the first half of my gap year preparing for exams, and the second half applying to colleges in the US. This was definitely not what I wanted my gap year to be like – unvaried!

Aditi* suggested that I should intern at Karkhana. She gave me the name and contact information of the CEO and advised me to wear jeans (for reasons I still don’t understand). I fixed a date and time with Pavitra, did some research and decided on the jeans I would wear that day.

Pavitra was different from what I expected; she was actually a he. He told me that I wasn’t the first one to mistake his name for a woman’s. Having an androgynous name myself, I found I had something in common with the CEO who would later come to be one of the most inspiring people I’ve met and one of my many good friends at Karkhana.

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Energy Mela – As a guardian

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We are taught subjects varying from the universe to something as small as a bacteria. We are taught large numbers, even as large as a Googolplex to a number as small as  1/a centillion. Out of all this information stored in our memory,  what percent of it have we learnt by doing? Very less. Although it has been proven that people learn better when they do things practically, Nepal’s education system fails to provide such opportunities of learning.

However, the gravity of such a problem is decreasing over time. With the establishment of education based companies like Karkhana which try to change a classroom to a lab, young learners have a better opportunity to acquire, reflect, use and finally create from the knowledge that they have gained. Karkhana host workshops which teach children to explore their own methods of learning.  Karkhana works with the aim to bring new approach to the experience of learning and teaching. Read more

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