SeaVuria Case Study

A Study in Resilience; how students in Kenya gained confidence through coding

Anjali Desai Case Study, success stories, Tech, Uncategorized Leave a Comment

The Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC) has emerged in Kenya as a new model for student learning. It’s intended to focus more holistically on skills such as critical thinking and inquiry, and is breaking the mold of traditional content-based learning. 

MaryMargaret Welch, with SeaVuria, has been partnering with schools in Kenya for 14+ years to offer Professional Development to teachers. MaryMargaret notes that teachers were specifically interested in learning how to improve their science teaching practice. Emily Allen notes how underserved schools tend to fall behind particularly in STEM. The two were looking to bridge the gap for teachers who were getting left further and further behind by recent technological advancement. 

“As teachers we have been called to an important profession that allows us to impact a future generation.  This work takes focused study on what is the best way to reach our learners. Teachers need to engage in quality professional learning that gives them these skills.”

MaryMargaret Welch Curriculum + SeaVuria

The solution for this is not just to teach the content and emerging technologies which will again become obscure, but to teach a competency in the language of STEM that will allow teachers to investigate relevant technologies and teaching practices with colleagues. 

With the advancement of AI, it’s important for students to be able to make technology work for them, and not the other way around. The task is to equip students with a tool box that allows them to think critically and question often. 

MaryMargaret believes encapsulates the transformation that STEM education is undergoing across the world. 

Students were very eager to learn. [] has tools that are engaging for students, but also the background for teachers to feel successful.

MaryMargaret Welch

Students in Kenya have been excited to tackle coding challenges, even when faced with technical obstacles. MaryMargaret and Emily note that students there are so used to WiFi connectivity issues that they have become more resilient and willing to dig into troubleshooting themselves. In February, a small group of kids from Kenya will teach a group of students in the US about, putting their learning to the test. They will step into leadership roles and be empowered to take ownership of their education.

“I was 100% convinced when these kids got on it. They were problem-solvers, they were excited learners, they were resilient. Students were eager to learn more. [] has tools that are engaging for students, but also the background for teachers to feel successful.” -MaryMargaret

Mary Margaret notes that the kids picked up on things in the code that she never saw, even with all her coding experience. Then they taught the teachers. One girl who has received our scholarship blew them away with her thoughts on “What is coding?” on a philosophical level. “It was worth every moment of trouble shooting to make this work”-MaryMargaret

One of the groups of kids is interested in identifying a community problem using the help of Arduino and present it aspart of their extravaganza project. The Extravaganza is a year long science project where studnets identify a community-based problem they can solve using STEM knowledge. A theme is announced in January, and students go through multiple iterations of their designs, with elements of community engagement, to present a final in July. is helping students become active participants in their education by taking on leadership roles and learning ‘how’ to problem-solve, not just ‘what’ to think. “In Engineering and Design, you have to fail. Everybody thinks everything is about everything being right. We have a saying “Fail fast, fail often”. It gave them a real-life application to the fact that science is about taking risks and problem-solving, and iterating the design” -MaryMargaret

When it comes to Professional Development in Kenya, MaryMargaret and Emily emphasize the importance of listening to local educators. The next generation science standards represent a shift from ‘learning about’ to ‘figuring out’. Shifting teaching practice isn’t easy, especially when students are used to a big emphasis on scores and placement tests. Sometimes students become more comfortable in a “memorize” role, and educators in a “lecturer” one. 

Part of Seavuria’s work in both Kenya and the US has taken a nod from brain research of the past decades. How people learn is, in a sense, universal- but there’s cultural context that matters when it comes to how students take to new systems of education. SeaVuria works with local universities in Kenya, and uses student and teacher reactions to inform their practice.

MaryMargaret notes that SeaVuria’s teachers are a captive audience looking for a program exactly like “We really appreciate the flexibility as we implement this in a whole new country and culture. allows us room to let the teachers take charge and think of new ideas. It’s helpful to be able to bring flexibility and give teachers  the reins to use what will work best with their own students.. We’re not telling them what to do, we’re saying ‘Here’s a resource, how do you want to use it?” 

MaryMargaret adapts her program based on feedback from teachers and students. She asks teachers to administer surveys to their students- as part of their portfolio, students answer questions not just about content, but about their identity. They talked about whether they see themselves as a scientist, the kind of potential they have, and whether or not this learning is effective for them in that pursuit. Curriculum + SeaVuria

To find out how’s carefully curated STEM programming can support your district’s curriculum plan, schedule a curriculum demo with our STEM experts.

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