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Developing skills to solve problems from a young age (Update 3: June 3 - Videos, images and attachments added)

Prepare kids to solve problems from a young age so that they are ready to face societal challenges when they are older.

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Explain your project idea (2,000 characters)

Background: The education system in India focuses so much on rote learning, that it exists in every level: primary schools, high schools, undergraduate, and graduate levels. This is more or less, a teacher talking about a concept, the student reading it in a textbook, and writing it in the exams by blatantly memorizing the concept. Such a method is the easier alternative when compared with the more effective project based learning, and hence widely used in India. For example, if you ask a student studying in high school what humidity is, their response will be the definition, quoted right from the text book. But when you ask where it applies, they do not know. This is because they are not exposed to a situation where the concept could be applied. The problem: The biggest drawback is that it limits the understanding to only what someone has memorized, and doesn't allow them to use these concepts in practice, in the real world. This especially pertains to school kids who have no way to approach a issue. If one is taught to solve problems from a young age using the concepts learnt at schools, it would make it easier to solve societal problems when they are older. This is crucial for the progressive development of the society. The project: Elementory The objective of elementory is to help nurture the creativity of kids so that they learn to solve real life problems. This works in two phases. Phase 1: The kids are shown how to use prototyping tools such as arts and crafts supplies, arduinos, simple block programming, and a bit of electronics. Through this, they work on a project that uses the concepts that they learn at schools. Phase 2: The kids participate in a open-ended design challenge. The problem will be something which is found within the society. The way to solve these problems is up to them. The technology used here is just a facilitator to help them understand the applications of the concepts they learn at schools.

Who are the beneficiaries? (1,000 characters)

Kids aged 11-13 years and schools within Bangalore.

How is your idea unique? (1,000 characters)

There are several studies which prove that the education system in India is inadequate: There are many organizations which teach robotics to kids through workshops and some schools have included it in their extra curricular activities. However, there is no correlation between the robotics curriculum and what is taught in classes, without any focus on creative problem solving. Elementory focuses on giving kids the opportunity to solve real life problems with the concepts they have already learnt at their schools. By mapping projects to their school's curriculum, kids would be able to understand that what they learn are not just words inside a textbook, but have real world applications. After finishing a project, the kids participate in an open-ended design challenge giving them an opportunity to creatively solve a real life challenge

Idea Proposal Stage (choose one)

  • Pilot: I have started to implement the idea as a whole with a first set of real users.

Tell us more about your organization/company (1 sentence and website URL)

Elementory focuses on delivering real life problem solving experiences to school kids in India. Website: __________________________________________________________________ p.s. The website is constantly updated, and the update involving the recent change-- our focus on schools-- needs to be included. But other than that, it shows all the work that we have been doing till now.

Expertise in sector

  • 3-5 years

Organization Filing Status

  • Yes, we are a registered company.

In 3-4 sentences, tell us the inspiration or story that encouraged you to start this project.

There is a vicious cycle of rote learning in India: A teacher instructs theory from text books, the students memorize the text book, and write exams, the student grows up knowing only this and passes this along to the subsequent generation. This inhibits creative thinking -- the one important thing that every kid has. By doing so, we are deliberately pushing towards an unfavorable future. As someone who has lived within this cycle, I can say that it is time to end it for a better future.

Please explain how your selected topic areas are influenced, in the local context of your project (1,000 characters).

Unfortunately, adults who are not able to solve problems of their nation will hinder its prosperity, and the world in general. Kids who don't understand that problems can be solved creatively in different ways, will be not able to represent various industries in the future, which could make them have the least bit of interest in dealing with social issues. This interferes with peaceful coexistence. There is a gap in the way kids learn in schools which inhibits their ability to effectively solve problems when they grow up. Education must use technology as a facilitator to solve problems and not necessarily as the final solution. The STEM curriculum used in India doesn't focus on creativity, when it is a fact that kids have it in abundance! The most effective way to bridge peace and prosperity is starting from when one is still young. In the long term: This idea leads to kids becoming empowered, responsible and rational citizens, protecting our planet, and bridging all three.

Who will work alongside your organization in the project idea? (1,000 characters)

We conduct workshops in various neighborhoods of Bangalore. We are also working along with a school (Parikrama Center for learning) to test our ideas with the kids studying there. All photos at the beginning show the different workshops we have had till April of 2018. After doing enough primary and secondary research, we have been testing this idea since October of 2017. We initially began doing workshops in apartments in different neighborhoods of Bangalore. Currently, we still conduct workshops in apartments, but not with the frequency with which we began. Our primary focus has shifted to working with schools and the kids who study there. This allows us to have a bigger impact.

Please share some of the top strengths identified in the community which your project will serve (500 characters)

We have been working with experts who have worked with CBSE (Central Board of Secondary Education; defines and prepares the academic curriculum for 19,316 schools in India). We also have parents who have been spreading the word about our work and giving us feedback on what their kid had learned. We have school kids, who are genuinely able to relate the things they learn at schools with how they are used in daily lives. We are also partnered with local makerspaces to conduct workshops.

Geographic Focus

India. The current focus is on the schools in the city of Bangalore.

How many months are required for the project idea? (500 characters)

The estimated timeline is 14 to 18 months.

Did you submit this idea to our 2017 BridgeBuilder Challenge? (Y/N)

  • No
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Attachments (3)

Elementory UX map.pdf

User Experience Journey of both phases

Use case- Weather Station Workshop.pdf

A use case during the workshops

Questions answered in comments -1 (June 3, 2018).pdf

Some of the questions in the comments section that were answered are collected into this one document.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Rodney Lobo

Anne-Laure Fayard Elana Blinder Tuba Naziruddin Luz Gallo Borislav Zlatanov Charles Betterton, MSCED Genevieve Emily Kruger 

Thank you all for the questions asked, and the suggestions you gave. Your feedback was very valuable. It has helped us a lot and my team is moving forward with developing the MVP.

Photo of Anne-Laure Fayard

Rodney Lobo thank you for sharing your idea. It's been really inspiring to see what you've been working on. It's great to see you embracing the human-centered design mindset to improve education in India. Please don't hesitate to reach out off line. I'd love if you could me updated on the next iterations of your prototype. Best of luck!

Photo of Tuba Naziruddin

Rodney Lobo  it's great to hear this. All the best to your team . Looking forward to learn more

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