Pi Jam Foundation: Technology for Good

This is an article contributed by Pi Jam Foundation. Know more about their work on http://www.thepijam.org/projects.html and follow them on Facebook.

Pi Jam Foundation is a Section 8 entity that aims to provide access to technology and build essential skills like problem-solving, programming, and design thinking through a STEM approach for students from low-income schools.

We focused our operations on the following broad aspects in low-income schools across Pune.

 Access to technology
 Providing good-quality, relevant computer education
 Giving students a platform for experimentation

We feel our young people need to be able to shape technology as it shapes them and learn about technology through making with it. We use affordable hardware and open source technologies that are more suited for our
context and have curated a curriculum in collaboration with academicians from institutions like IISER Pune, IITM Pune, and Fergusson College.

Through our curriculum, we want to provide an experience for students that is challenging, fun, motivating and goes beyond traditional subject limits, inspiring collaboration across the arts and sciences and between
people — essential skills in the face of rapidly blurring boundaries. Our operations began full time from April 2017 after the success of a pilot workshop in August 2016.

IMPACT

We impact the lives of our beneficiaries through the following:

Workshops: By conducting 1- day workshops that allow kids to see the possibilities that technology can offer, equipping them with necessary skills to problem solve, think logically and exposing them to design thinking, fostering a sense of curiosity and innovation in their minds.

Labs: Setting up labs in low-income schools that can serve as permanent spaces for kids to explore, learn, tinker with technology and innovate without the boundaries of the workshop.

Teachers and ICT ed-scape:
By training ICT teachers in schools and allowing other subject teachers to see possibilities of technological integration in their subject areas. We would also like to work with the School Board with regards to the ICT curriculum and Teacher training.

School System: After the workshops, we expect students to apply the knowledge and tools they learnt to create projects or use technology to tackle problems that they may recognise in their communities/schools. These projects would serve as proof points to the school being an innovative space to come up with creative projects and also inspire other students and
teachers to do the same.

Knowledge Sharing Community:
After our workshops, we plan to have forums and collaborative spaces for kids to explore topics related to technology and STEM by continuously providing online support. This will be achieved through our website and WhatsApp groups/threads on other collaborative spaces.

Industry:
Through our workshops, we hope to instill in students, a greater confidence about exploring technology and learning about it. This could inspire kids to take up technology-related courses in the future and particularly benefit those who are already interested in technology and may not have had a platform that exposed them to it. This would greatly benefit our country in their hopes of fostering a generation of innovators, problem solvers and curious learners.

EVALUATION

We have developed a set of tools that will help us identify our growth in line with our vision and mission. We believe in a system of continuous growth and hope to keep evolving our tools in sync with the needs of our evolving methods and our partner’s requirements. We’re currently relying on:

i) Student data after every session of the workshop to check for understanding, student experience, and technological career interests.

ii) Feedback from Class Teachers, H.M s, Teach for India Community to gauge improvement in problem-solving skills and grades across STEM subjects, collaboration among students, etc. This data would allow us to gauge our progress and impact toward our goals for the first year. We are in the process of developing a comprehensive impact measurement matrix that would allow us to look at both quantitative and qualitative parameters.

The parameters we’re currently using to gauge our impact are:
· Comfort level with Technology
· Programming Skills
· Problem Solving
· Community and Sharing

From our present Data analysis, we have received these general statistics regarding technology in Education (statistics from the end of the workshops): (N=350)

● 85% of our participants want to pursue a career in Technology (96% of the girls who attended our workshops wanted to pursue a career in Technology at the end of the workshop compared to 47% at the beginning).

● 90% of participants want to learn more programming and other technology-related tools.

● 91% of participants found programming to lie between very easy/easy/medium to understand and implement compared to 9% who found it difficult to work with.

● While measuring programming ability, 60% of participants displayed medium-high clarity on Algorithm forming, 75% displayed medium-high ease in using programming constructs, and 56% of students none-very few syntax errors.

● 94% of students were able to articulate the link between their experiments and academic concepts.