Green XOs @ the Green Roots Festival

Trip Start Oct 14, 2009
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Trip End Jul 01, 2014


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Flag of United States  , Massachusetts
Sunday, June 3, 2012

I came to Boston today to help Dogi (Stefan) from Sugar Labs and the MIT Media Lab with his summer OLPC Contributors Project. Dogi proposes to particpate in local festivals over the summer to help spread the word about OLPC, the XOs and his Treehouse - Sugar Labs project. Treehouse is a Dogi's project to make computer learning for children safe, enabling cloud computing and freedom to explore, in a secure and protected environment. Learn about his awesome idea and "One Cloud For Children" here: http://treehouse.su/gar/

Dogi piloted the festival project idea with a few Contributors Program laptops last summer at the Bikes Not Bombs Green Roots Festival. He had lots of kids playing with XOs the entire day, and lots of fun too. He asked for help this year, as it is difficult to set up/break down/ and man the booth alone, as he did last year. You can find information about the OLPC Contributors Program here: http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Contributors_program

This festival http://bikesnotbombs.org/bike-a-thon/green-roots-festival begins with a bike ride that is a fundraiser for an organization that raises funds to provide bikes to folks in countries where the lack of any means of transport other than walking makes getting clean water, medical care or education burdensome or impossible. The riders choose a 5 mile, 15 mile, or 25 mile route. When finished, they can kick back and enjoy an afternoon of free food, music and dancing, and activities and vendors.

Dogi brought a handful of XOs, and I also brought 5. We both brought extra batteries as we knew there would not be any power source available for recharging laptops. We also  had a solar panel and a crank! We had "fancy digs", a canopy to keep us out of the sun; or wind and rain as was more likely today. It was damp and chilly and I can imagine that the festival would have had better attendance if the weather had been sunny. That said, we had a lot of interest and questions from many adults. And, we had plenty of kids playing with the XOs we brought.

I had recruited additional volunteers. Thank you Sandra T, and Alexandra M, for coming to help, in spite of the threatening and less than perfect weather. Sandra brought photos from Kenya and shared stories of her work there. Alex brought her colleague, Yen I from Taiwan. I loved meeting them both. I told Yen I that the XOs are built by Quanta Computers based in Taiwan but that as far as OLPC knows, no children there have them to learn with. Wouldn't it be great if someone could start a project in Taiwan! None of us except Dogi were from right in Boston. Thanks Sandra and Alex for making the effort and trip! "It takes a village."

We volunteers answered lots of questions about what One Laptop Per Child does. We met 2 folks who still have G1G1 laptops, both currently unused. I encouraged both of them to try using them with the new software build. Or to please re-donate them for us to redistribute to a child in the developing world! I wonder how many XOs are still unused in G1G1 participant's closets, that could go to kids and be used? If you have an unused XO to re-donate, find out where to send it here: http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Donate_Your_Get_One

For me, the best part of the day was watching kids use an XO for the first time, and observing what they did with it. Children 8 to 10 years old enjoyed playing around with Maze, Memory. and Speak. But frankly, in our random experiment, I did not see any kids (or adults) who figured out how to use the Activities without some hints or guidance from us volunteers. I still cannot believe that NN's plan to drop tablets into remote off the grid areas will foster constructionism; hands on learning, without teacher guidance. Frankly, I feel  that even in the West we, (myself included) are becoming more spoiled and easily distracted, by the fast, fun consumer tablets and apps, at the expense of meaningful experimentation and learning. My observations today only strengthen my belief in the need for (at least some) constructionism based learning for our youngest generation.

The round trip bus trip to Boston made for a really long day. But Wifi on the Dartmouth Coach makes it possible for me to write this entry on line from the bus. I could not have imagined that a few years ago! I always enjoy working with my volunteer colleagues in person. And playing with kids and XOs is a recipe for a fun way to spend the day!





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