By Jaerin Kim
The lecture on international education development took me back to the personal memories of my summer days in Tanzania in 2018, where I had the opportunity to teach children about Arduino for ICT education. It was an incredibly joyful and meaningful experience that taught me the happiness of sharing knowledge and the heart of the volunteering ethos. At the same time, it also enlightened me on the importance of education as a means of empowerment and progress and the potential it holds for shaping a brighter future for human society.
The project was based on a global volunteering organization at my alma mater. We had to plan the program ourselves, from rough scratch to detailed planning, to provide a meaningful experience for Tanzanian students. As engineering college students, our primary concern was to identify which engineering (or scientific) knowledge would be both relevant and applicable to them. We wanted to bring something practical yet intriguing for young children. After several team meetings, we decided to bring Arduino starter kits. Once we received confirmation from the Tanzanian institute that they could provide the necessary infrastructure for the Arduino sessions (which require computers for coding and programming), all we had to do was prepare for the teaching sessions and hope that the children would enjoy building the machines.
One of the best moments from the project was when a boy created a simple music box that played a traditional Tanzanian melody using a piezo buzzer during our third session. Of course, we started with the basics of programming and circuit building on the first day. I was impressed by how quickly they picked up the concepts, and by the end of the day, they were able to create simple LED circuits on their own. We moved on to more complex concepts such as coding and debugging day by day, and I was amazed by how creative the students were in coming up with their own projects. Most of them successfully progressed to the intermediate level, where they connected an Arduino board to wireless networks to achieve remote control. Seeing how enthusiastic, creative, and fast to learn the students were, I felt a renewed conviction that all children should be given the opportunity to learn and realize their potential.
Arduino education to introduce STEM subjects,
Then and still, I believe that Arduino is an excellent tool for introducing STEM subjects to students who may be unfamiliar with ICT (although I am not funded by them). With its ability to integrate with a wide range of sensors, actuators, and other components, Arduino allows students to customize their projects according to their interests and needs. If proper Arduino kits are provided, they can build even more advanced machines, such as water quality monitoring sensors, solar-power charging systems, or automatic plant watering systems, that meet their daily needs. This personalized approach can make the learning experience more engaging and effective. Additionally, Arduino boards are relatively inexpensive, making them accessible to students and schools with limited financial resources.
I would like to add some personal opinions more: Arduino in primary education has the potential to contribute to the growth of the industry in developing countries. This is because individuals who receive Arduino education can acquire the skills and knowledge necessary to develop electronics and automated systems that enhance efficiency and effectiveness, thereby addressing some of the challenges faced by these countries. Furthermore, it can help to foster innovation and entrepreneurship in the tech sector as people learn how to create and develop new technologies to overcome challenges through hands-on practices.
But, yes, admittedly, I acknowledge that implementing Arduino education in neighbourhoods that lack the necessary infrastructure may not be a proper educational policy. Nonetheless, based on my experience, I still believe that it has the potential to draw out an optimistic future. I observed the possibility of implementing Arduino education and the benefits it can bring to the development of the tech industry.
The memories of the summer days in Tanzania still remain vivid in my mind, warm like the sunshine and bright like the laughter of the children I met. At the same time, the shame of myself comes again that we should stand for the right to education for all the children in the world. Feels like time to join a volunteering organization for education.