Open Collaboration for African Techies
We’re big proponents of training young people in science and math using the latest tools in education, including e-learning and interactive learning. This is why we’re excited to announce our next visiting fellow, Richard Anderson. Through a grant provided by the E.E. Ford Foundation, Richard will be leading Cameroonian youth ages 12-16 in “computational thinking” exercises that will enable them to produce meaningful digital narratives through animation and games. He plans to do this by using MIT’s innovative Scratch software platform.
Scratch is a visual programming language that enables students to create interactive stories, animations, games, music, and art—and share their creations on the web. Richard will use the Scratch platform for two, 3-day workshops covering introductory computer programming concepts. “This platform lends itself nicely to teaching these concepts because of its kid-friendly, ‘puzzle piece-like’ interface and costs nothing to download,” he says. Richard’s goal is to introduce kids to computer science in a way that gets them excited about programming. “Considering the reputation that Buea is getting as a web development hub, this is a great opportunity to continue that positive energy,” he added.
This video overview from the MIT Media Lab demonstrates how Scratch works:
Many of today’s software engineers and technologists started down their path at an early age through games and interactive learning platforms. Through this program, Richard hopes to identify kids who might have potential in the field of computer science and provide them with resources and guidance. For participants who want to continue their explorations, Richard will work with local partners to help establish a Scratch Club that meets regularly and contributes to the global Scratch community.
“Considering the reputation that Buea is getting as a web development hub, this is a great opportunity to continue that positive energy.”
We’re enthusiastic about hosting Richard and his students in Buea and can’t wait to see the creations that emerge from this program! Who knows—there may even be budding future members in this group who end up pursuing careers in tech :). The Scratch workshops will be delivered in both English in French. Participation is open to boys and girls ages 12-16 up to a maximum of 15 students at each location. Details below:
What: Scratch Project Workshops
When: June 29-July 1, 2011 in Buea, July 20-July 22, 2011 in Yaoundé
Languages: English and French
Richard Anderson is a librarian at the Washington International School. Prior to this, he served as a Peace Corps volunteer from 2004-06 in Nanga-Eboko teaching computer applications and developing a university library. He is passionate about the educational uses of technology and helping teachers integrate them into the classroom. Additional info is available at Richard’s project page.
Scratch is developed by the MIT Media Lab, with financial support from the National Science Foundation, Microsoft, Intel Foundation, MacArthur Foundation, Google, Iomega and MIT Media Lab research consortia. Find out more by exploring the Scratch tour.
This blog is a resource for news, project updates, member profiles and community events at ActivSpaces, an open collaboration space, innovation hub and startup incubator for African techies. Based in Buea, Cameroon.