Archive for August, 2009

Final Week of Computer Camp

This past week we started more specific learning projects. Since this was our last chance to work directly with the kids, we wanted to ensure that they had the necessary skills to document their work. We started small, with the assignment for each child to take a picture of something outside, and we built up to working with video so they could record themselves singing a song or introducing themselves.
On Thursday, the second to last day, we asked the students to build or make something with all the packing materials that came with the XO delivery. Since we had 50 kids playing at one time in two classrooms, this became pretty chaotic. We originally assigned the kids into groups but many decided to work in pairs or by themselves, or decided to loot building materials from a neighboring group. The kids were certainly not afraid to try new things or explore without direction. The results of this learning project were astounding. The kids came up with so many creative uses for the boxes, making cars, drums, towers, fortresses, and hiding places. Then we had the children use their computer to take pictures of what they had done.

On the last day of the camp, the parents gathered in the morning to thank us for everything we have done for their kids. One of the parents even presented us with a gift of eggs, which we very much enjoyed. We showed the parents, teachers, and kids a video that I had compiled of the opening ceremony and took a group picture at the very end. The children love seeing pictures or video of themselves, so this was a real treat for them.

Working with the kids over the past 3 weeks has been amazing! There is so much more to say about our experiences here, but we will back in US soon, so we can share our pictures and videos that we have taken. It is hard to leave this community since we have become so close to this project and all the people involved, but we will still be able to follow the future of this school, its students, and the successes of the computers.

-Mary

August 22, 2009 at 10:44 am 1 comment

No More Internet

Thanks to a power cord malfunction, we will not have internet access until we return to the States on the 26th. Our work is going well, and once we have a reliable connection, ze’ll have plenty of photos qnd stories!

Apologies for typoes – this is a French keyboard!

August 15, 2009 at 8:42 am 1 comment

A Day Without Power

We started our second week of computer camp today. We had planned to spend some time with the kids exploring Maze (surprisingly enough, an activity where you go through a maze), and then finally have a small Maze tournament with the children racing each other to see who could complete the maze the fastest. However, the power at the school went out about 10 minutes after all the kids got settled.

Power outages are fairly frequent, occurring several times a week and lasting anywhere from under a minute to more than a day. Normally, a power outage just means we have to cook by candlelight after dark. At our computer camp, the lack of power meant that about a fifth of the computers ran out of charge within the first half hour. Even the kids with laptops that were mostly charged quickly ran through their batteries because of frequent restarting; the kids have a tendency to freeze the computers by opening too many activities.

We tried to adapt by letting some children play on our personal computers, but eventually we had all the kids play outside, in hopes the power would return. It never did, so we spent the entire day playing outside, teaching the kids Red Light, Green Light, Jump Rope, and Freeze Tag.

Its hard to believe that we only have two more weeks here. I wish we had more time to work with the kids and the teachers, but the delay in customs really cut into our time with the XOs at Lova Soa.

-Mary

August 11, 2009 at 8:36 am 1 comment

Alternative World Goals

As committed as we are to One Laptop Per Child, we’ve realized there were some other world goals that we think deserve serious consideration:

One Laptop Per Dog

Two and a Half Laptops Per Child

One Child Per Dog (we considered One Dog Per Child, but we wouldn’t want to limit each child to only one dog)

Two Chickens Per Kate

Twenty Kilos of Onions Per Zucchini

Eight Tanks of Cooking Gas Per American in Madagascar

One Marine Per Rogue Gang of Robbers

One RaoRao Per Child

Zero Step-Down Transformers Per Madagascar

Fifty Rabid Rats Per House

Zero Rats Per Rat Trap

-Mary, Michael, Kate & 25

August 8, 2009 at 6:31 pm Leave a comment

Opening Ceremony at Lova Soa

Yesterday, we had the opening ceremony for the laptop program at Lova Soa. All of the farents came with their children, as well as the teachers, staff, and directing committee of Lova Soa. The village chief and local mayor also attended, giving speeches to honor the occasion. They thanked us and the Madagascar School Project team for bringing the laptops here, and stressed to the parents the importance of protecting and caring for the computers. The mayor even led the crowd in a song, spelling "misoatra," which means "thank you" in Malagasy.

We were finally able to hand each child their assigned laptop. They were extremely polite, saying "thank you" in English to us. They caught on very quickly to the computer interface, and were even able to open some of the activities to play while we spoke to the parents. The children had an accidental affinity for the features of the laptop that are the least entertaining (the Control Panel, the Linux Terminal, and the incredibly complex TamTamSynth Lab that we still haven’t really figured out).

Today was the first full day of our computer camp. We have purposely made the camp as unstructured as possible so the kids can explore the laptops in a truly constructionist fashion. However, a methodology of experimentation means a lot of things will go wrong before they’ll go right. The children had an accidental affinity for the features of the laptop that are the least entertaining (the Control Panel, the Linux Terminal, and the incredibly complex TamTamSynth Lab that we still haven’t really figured out). They also really enjoyed the button on the screen which flips the orientation of the screen 90 degrees clockwise. Apparently all of the activities are much more entertaining when viewed upside down or sideways!

-Mary

August 6, 2009 at 4:47 pm Leave a comment


OLPC Ampitso

This is the OLPCorps team from GWU and UMD. We'll be deploying 100 laptops to a rural village in Madagascar this summer. Stay updated by subscribing to our feed and checking back regularly. For more information on what we're doing, use the tabs above!
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