Karkhana seeks science teacher volunteers

Based in Kathmandu, Nepal, Karkhana is an education company and makerspace with a unique approach to learning. It seeks to introduce more hands-on and project-based learning into the traditional education system across South Asia.

Karkhana is looking for experienced science teachers to help improve its science kits, lesson plans, and teacher development modules. Science teachers with experience working with upper elementary and/or middle school are especially welcome. Some experience working in the developing world is a bonus, but not necessary.

Karkhana currently works with approximately 50 schools across the Kathmandu Valley and is expanding to 3 new towns this year. So your efforts will reach and benefit many families and schools.

Karkhana would like to find volunteers who are willing to spend a minimum of two weeks. They can provide accommodation in Kathmandu for a short period. For longer term support, such as an entire summer, they can also subsidize some travel costs. They can also help long-term volunteers identify and apply for grant opportunities.

Unlike some volunteer opportunities, this one responds to a specific, clearly-identified need. It also offers a vibrant work environment, which can be a learning opportunity for anyone. I’ll be working with Karkhana myself this winter.

Please contact Karkhana directly info@karkhana.asia if you’re interested. I can also answer some basic questions about it and this opportunity.

The design kitchen

At my college reunion, I got to visit the Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen (OEDK). This facility provides a space for undergraduate students majoring in STEM fields to “design, prototype and deploy solutions to real-world engineering challenges.”

For example, the University of Malawi Polytechnic Design Studio requested a device to convert plastic water bottles into filaments. These filaments could then be braided into rope or used to make baskets. The device needed to be easily made, using local materials, in Malawi, and cost ~$10.

Another project sought to develop a portable, affordable, and easy to install baby car seat accessory to prevent child fatalities due to heat stroke. Through a system of redundant sensors, the alert notifies a caregiver via visual/auditory alarms and text messages if a loaded car seat is unattended.

One project that caught my interest was to design a feeder for giraffes. The issue was that giraffes become lazy, among other things not exercising their tongues enough. OEDK students designed a feeder that could be raised or lowered via pulleys. Later, I got to see it in action at the zoo. Apparently, most of the giraffes prefer being hand-fed lettuce. However, a shy older one was happiest eating hay from the feeder.

These projects are all good examples of community-based curricula. Problems (and resources) in the community are identified, which lead to a cycle of inquiry. The end result is returned to the community in the form of a solution for the original problem.