Saturday, March 04, 2017

Inter-planetary travel as service-learning

On this pleasant Saturday morning, as this post is being written, a group of primary school kids is in our computer laboratory.  Our students are teaching these kids to program robots to travel from planet to planet, to carry out challenging tasks.  They have to position the robot correctly, program the robot to travel in the right direction, reach the planets in the right sequence, navigate through obstacles, and knock a certain target off its position.  

These kids work so hard to plan the tasks.

They are so excited when the robot does what they want it to do.  

They moan loudly when the robot does not do what they want it to do. 

This afternoon, their robots will compete in the final competition, to see which team scores the highest mark.  There will surely be a lot of fun, shouts, moaning, and ultimately, a lot of things learned, by all parties involved. 

Our students teach them how to program, plan the routes, and how to solve problems when they occur. Of course, they also design the project itself, layout the field, and a lot more.  They have to learn to program the robots themselves, learn about the kids and how to deal with them, plan their lessons, work as a team, and myriad other things. 

Our teaching team, of course, have to teach our students how to do all these.  We also have to design the subject, secure funding, find the school partners, negotiate the collaboration with the school, arrange the logistics, recruit the students, …   Today, all the work come to fruition for this class.  We are excited.  Such is the joy of teaching service-learning.  

In the afternoon, 2 other classes are running …  These teams will go to Cambodia and Rwanda, to install solar panels and more.  Yet another class for a team serving at a local special school for severely-handicapped kids have a day off because the teachers are involved in a computer-hacking competition. 

Service-learning is always happening somewhere.  It never stops for us.  

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