To prepare for teaching programming and electronics in Nepal I wrote a short proposal to gather feedback and lay-out a budget for communicating with potential supporters. After months of consideration, writing the proposal helped solidify my intentions and the types of resources that I would need to offer hands-on activities at Shree Mangal Dvip Boarding School (SMD). I sent the proposal to family and friends, as well as contacts at UBC and the Maker/STEM community in Kathmandu. The proposal is a living document, and I hope to keep it updated as the project adapts to the reality of the situation in Kathmandu. View the proposal here.
I contacted friends at UBC who are involved with excellent STEM outreach programs, offering similar activities to those I hope to run. Geering Up and eng- cite agreed to share their teaching resources as well as their advice on teaching grade-school children. There is no shortage of lesson material out there, and I was able to find a few other potentially useful resources. The challenge will be to choose age and context appropriate lessons, and to string them together in a way that fits the time available.
I also contacted members of my faculty, in the hopes that they might finance the parts and tools for the activities. I am very grateful to Dean Marc Parlange and Associate Dean Elizabeth Croft for agreeing to meet to discuss the proposal and providing a generous sponsorship to help fund the project.
A key part of what I hope to do at SMD is to connect the school to the existing electronics and programming community in Kathmandu. I was pleased to find that Kathmandu has a rich Maker community, and a lot of activity surrounding the engineering schools there. I reached out to the following groups, and arranged to meet with them during my first two weeks in Kathmandu to learn more about their work and discuss potential collaboration.
Another critical step in preparation for leaving for Nepal was to purchase components and tools that will be used in the activities. The postal service is unreliable in Nepal, and I wanted to order inexpensive parts directly from China, or buy from reputable sellers here in Canada. Everything has been packed into my carry-on luggage. Not having a clear idea of what activities I will run, I decided to purchase a broad range of general components that will enable activities using Arduino microcontrollers and Raspberry Pi single-board computers. Both are tools specifically designed for education and have strong online communities. Geering Up recommended 5-10 students for a single instructor, so I chose to purchase quantities to accommodate those numbers. Components that are easily broken, lost, or very inexpensive in quantity were bought in higher numbers (i.e. resistors, LEDs, buttons).