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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.

Photo of Rodney Lobo

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Explain your project idea (2,000 characters)


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.


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

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 Charles Betterton, MSCED

Greetings Rodney and congratulations on your project to help youth learn successful problem solving skills! Similar to this BridgeBuilder Challenge, the MacArthur Foundation issued a $100 million dollar Request for Proposals to "address problems that affect people, places and planet." Based on decades of experience in the community economic development principles and practices of self-help, empowerment and capacity-building, we responded to the RFP and introduced our Expanding the Circle of Success Education and Empowerment strategy as "Bridging the access to creative-thinking, problem-solving and other successful living skills divide" ( ) The idea we shared here from our non-profit University for Successful Living is very similar to that campaign and is synergistic with yours "Facilitating Prosperity, Peace and Planetary Sustainability by Providing Expanded Access to Successful Life, Work & Entrepreneurship Skills!"

Perhaps some of the materials and resources we have developed and or obtained access to may be helpful in support of your programs. For example we have materials on: Creative Thinking and Problem Solving; Developing a Positive Mental Attitude; Harnessing the Power of Affirmations and Visualization; Using Effective Decision Making Strategies; Setting and Achieving Goals; Motivating Yourself and Others; Developing a Success and Prosperity Consciousness; Getting the Greatest Value Out of Self-Help Materials, etc.

We have developed Discernment Grids that help evaluate which of various possible actions should produce the greatest benefits and we also utilize a very powerful "Means End Problem Chain Problem Solving Formula" developed by Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri here in the US. If you would be interested in exploring possible collaboration, please send an email to Best wishes on your project and congratulations for sharing it here!

Photo of Rodney Lobo

Hello Charles Betterton, MSCED 
Thank you for sharing about the resources. I would like to check them out, but I am not able to open the link to the website. It seems to be broken. Do you have any other links?

Photo of Charles Betterton, MSCED

Hi Rodney thank you for asking. I am away on an emergency family medical situation and will check into the issue as soon as possible. Our web development team is in the UK and I know they are working on making a major change in our hosting services. As soon as I have any information from them, I will be better able to ensure you can access the requested details. Thanks again!

Photo of Charles Betterton, MSCED

Hi Again Rodney, That web site is now working where we introduced our strategy "Bridging the access to creative-thinking, problem-solving and other successful living skills divide" ( If you are interested in more specific information, please let me know the details and I will find the best way to share whatever we have that might be useful in support of your programs.

Photo of Rodney Lobo

Thank you, Charles.

Photo of Charles Betterton, MSCED

Thank YOU Rodney! You MIGHT find some value in the information that was just shared with me about the possibility of "Humanizing the Blockchain" and an initiative that relates to Peace, Prosperity and our Planet! I am amazed at the ultimate blockchain opportunities that I have only recently been introduced to. As a community economic development specialist who resonates with Bucky Fuller's vision of "betterment for 100% of humanity", I especially appreciate how this initiative is dedicated "For the good of all humanity."

The founders and the organization are guided by and committed to the 17 Sustainable Development (SDG) goals that were established to bring peace and prosperity to all humans by 2030 by the United Nations and signed by 193 World Leaders in 2015. For a brief overview see the Unify Earth: Harmonizing the Blockchain Official White Paper and other introductory information at There is also a beautiful free mini-ebook created by Christopher Lee Van Buren of Launch Moxie that was developed for Earth Day available at #unifyearth

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