Please enjoy today a blog post from your fellow Ambassador Shreyas and the work of the Sathyabama Firefox Club in starting the Kidzilla initiative. Great work to you all – what a great example for other Student Ambassadors!
After a very successful MozBooth at Silicon 14, the Sathyabama Firefox Club were all chargedup for the string of events this month. This was flagged off by the KidZilla 1.0 project.
Here is a popcorn link about KidZilla 1.0 initiated by the Sathyabma Firefox Club.
KidZilla is an initiative which aims at educating school children about the basics of computers, the Internet and other similar stuff in a fun and interactive manner. This is also mainly concentrated on small schools with lesser facilities in the outskirts of the city.
Since the club and its members stay in and around Chennai, this initiative is focused in Chennai as of now. We would however, be glad to expand in the coming months.
In my 12th standard, I had taken up an initiative for an NGO called The Golden Bird Foundation (TGBF). It was aimed at educating poor underprivileged kids about the basics of computer technology and the Internet. It was started by a friend and the name”The Golden Bird Foundation” has a story why it’s being called such. Below is an advertisement that actually makes some sense and which I feel is very much relevant.
Please see the video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VqYxEGT6KqM
There was a time when India was called the Golden Bird. Now, to make our country the Golden Bird it was once, we need to build the future of our children and the younger generation. Educating and empowering them with technology are some of the ways this can be done and for that reason, TGBF was formed. I love computers as well as teaching people about computers and the Internet. However, due to personal reasons, I had to withdraw from volunteering for the said NGO.
It was after volunteering for Mozilla that I now found time as well as ideas on how to restart an initiative that I once left at some point. From there, the KidZilla project was formed.
Me and a wonderful team of 12 other volunteers went to the SFS School in Kelambakkam, Chennai on the 8th of February.
We all reached Kelambakkam by 9:40 in the morning. There were 13 of us in total, composed of 7 boys and 6 girls.
Since the initiative is based on schools, there were volunteers in the team who could speak different languages. We had covered Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Hindi,Marathi and Gujarati.
At around 9:50 am, the Father who was the principal of the school sent a bus to pick us from the bus stop. We all got in and started discussing how to get started. Something that bothered me a lot was that I can’t get involved and interact with the kids that much if they wanted to speak only in Tamil and not English. I do understand Tamil like all other Malayalees, but I can’t speak fluently.
As we reached the school, we saw the Father standing there to welcome us inside. He introduced himself as Father Simon. He then took us to the classroom where the students were gathered to attend our session.
As the students got in, I asked the teacher whether they actually have classes on Saturdays and she said that they do in most Saturdays but only until 12:30 PM.
My team tried to get the Internet connection working there. Meanwhile, I still worried about the language. I asked Jerald to ask them in Tamil whether they wanted to be taught in Tamil or English.
Everyone echoed, “ENGLISH!”
That was a really great moment. I immediately started off with the session by asking them the very basics of a computer like ‘Who invented the computer?’, ‘What are computers used for?’, ‘What is the difference between a desktop and a laptop?’ The birthday boy (the one in a colored dress) offered to answer.
I noticed that the group of boys at the back were answering really well.
I inquired about the strength of the class and the teachers told me that there were about 100+ students from 5th,6th and 7th grade. Damini then told them the difference between the hardware and the software. The students were really interested in listening about the interesting things computers can do.
Later, I asked them if they know what the Internet is. One of them stood up and said, “If we don’t know about something, we type it in the Internet, it tells us about it.” I was really impressed because for their age, it was pretty smart. I then asked them another question, “From where does this information come from? Who gives this information?” This time, they all had their thinking hats on. The expression of a child when you ask an interesting question and the child is like,’Oh well, never thought of that’ is really beautiful.
They had many computers behind them, so I explained to them about network types (LAN,MAN,WAN) and then told them to imagine another school beside theirs with the same setup.
If they could access the computer in the adjacent school using this school’s computer, it was made possible by something called the Internet. Now I told them to imagine this all over the world, with an interconnection of networks. They now understood the concept.
The teacher tells me that they have bookish knowledge and not much practical knowledge because the school doesn’t have that much facilities. So I decided to ask them how do they access the internet. They all pointed at something on my laptop that was kept on the desk. I took it to them and some touched the Mozilla Firefox icon. Some touched the Google Chrome icon.
I was really happy that they recognized Firefox. I told them that we are volunteers of Mozilla and Firefox is our browser. They all wowed to see something that they had just seen on computers live.
I showed them the badges and the stickers and asked them what the logo was and they all said FIREFOX!
I was amazed that kids from the 5th standard also knew Firefox. After that, it was time for their break. They all walked away by row in a straight line guided by their teachers.As we saw them walk out, it was a moment of nostalgia.
The walking out in an unruly manner during breaks in college to this, things were different. They returned back after a while. We then split ourselves into groups. The thirteen of us split in two groups of four and a group of five to distribute the kids to three classrooms. In this way, we could maximize our manpower and make the activity more interactive.The first classroom was handled by me, Grace, Damini and Jayanth.The Second one had Nikhil, Shashank, Kanimozhi and Monisha. The last one was managed by Achyuth,Anita,Jerald,Jaya and Satya.
The common topics that were covered in all the classes were:
What is a computer?
What is the difference between the hardware and the software?
What is a network and what are the types of it?
What is the Internet and how is it useful?
What is an operating system?
What is an e-mail?
What are web browsers?
How do we make a Google search?
What is HTML?
How do you create a webpage?
All the classes were taught to practically design their own basic webpage within the limited time we had. We taught them the basic HTML tags using real life examples such as head, body etc.
After teaching them just once, these students were able to understand the concept and create their basic webpage.
Here is the YouTube video of them: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uixxY2N4Kck
I told them how programming works and what the different types of operating systems are.
Since my class had students from 7th and 6th, I told them about the meaning of ‘open source’ in simple terms. Watch the video of this explanation here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Tfq6mMP2uE
I also told them the difference between Firefox and IE, Mozilla and Microsoft.
They also promised me that once they grew up, they too would go to schools and teach what they know.
It was a proud moment for us.
Lastly, we gave everyone lots of swags consisting of Firefox and Webmaker goodies. They were all so happy.
We had also given special gifts like badges to those who were answering well in our class and they were proudly displaying them. I felt bad for not having enough badges to give out to all the 100+ students.
We also gave some goodies to the teachers and the Principal too. They were all really happy that students like us were taking up such an initiative and told us to come and conduct more activities there. They also invited us to conducted a session in their main branch at Pudukottai.
After the session ended at 12:30, the principal invited us to have some refreshments inside. We all had a good time discussing about the outcomes of the initiative as well as the drawbacks.
We asked the Father to write an honest review with suggestions to improve and mail us when he gets time. Since it was a very small school, they had only two school buses and we went in with the students.
I was amazed when one of the students in the bus gave me a pen and a book and asked me for an AUTOGRAPH! Yes! The kid just asked me to give him an autograph! For the first time in my life, I felt that I actually achieved something! I felt extremely happy and signed the note. They asked the entire team to sign afterwards.
It was a moment close to our hearts. We all got off the bus later and they waved at us.
Flickr link of images: