Innovation is open to all. Using technology as a tool to innovate, including building new ways to learn and to invent as entrepreneurs was a wish expressed by Oliver, a student at Children’s Garden Home in Nairobi, Kenya. The belief that all students can learn to create mobile apps to address a local issue, help others learn, or even organize community efforts generated the creation of a collaborative technology club that bridges cultural and economic differences amongst young people.
At a January 2015 planning meeting held at Children’s Garden Home, six students led by another student, Stanley, discussed how they might get together with some International School students and learn coding. Together a plan was made to dedicate time to develop computational thinking skills, learn coding, and eventually program their own apps.
Obstacles? Of course, and the adventure is richer because of them. All can be overcome with persistence, so our first exploration in computer programming began on Sunday, 15 February. Transportation had to be worked out, and a simple distance of 14 kilometers became a 62 km round-trip work-around involving two vehicles to transport students to the computers.
However, the students expressed joy in learning to program with Scratch. In just 2.5 hours, they surprised us all by writing simple programs that demonstrated amazing expertise. Block programming is a good introduction to computational thinking, which involves breaking problems into smaller steps and testing them. Eventually, the steps are combined to create an automatic system for meeting a challenge. And so, for those of you who have been watching this unfold, we are happy to announce that we are on our way!
Our real hope is to acquire some laptops or devices so that the time and expense of getting to the computers can be overcome. The goal then would be to work together with International Students in creating apps as a team.