1.3 billion people don't have access to sustainable lighting. The immediate danger isn't the carcinogenic nature of kerosene lamps: people are dying in fires due to flame based light use at night. My Science 9 students got to hear firsthand of the conditions in areas dealing with light poverty. In a Skype chat with Eladio, Dennis and their students from The Community For Learning School in the Dominican Republic, we heard about the conditions in the bateyes. These workers in the sugar cane fields live with little to no electricity; accessing safe light at night is one of the many struggles with which they deal.
In Doing something beyond ourselves I share my dream of meaningful making with Connections-based Learning. Connections-based learning is an approach to teaching and learning that leverages the connected world. After making a connection, the most natural response is to ask "how can we help?". We design the learning experience by first seeking out needs. I share how we sought the needs in the Dominican Republic bateyes in Empathizing the Local and Global Needs. The students and I then created learning goals together (See: Co-construct Learning Goals) as we sought to meet those needs. The next step in CBL Design is to develop a response to achieve those goals. At this stage, students dream what they propose to do and to make.
Dream a CBL Proposal
Time must be given for students to dream up a response to the need and to flesh out what their response could look like. Through the inspiration of a real need, brainstorming sessions, and group discussions, students develop their plans. We used OneNote Class Notebook to collaborate and share ideas. We also Skyped with Ian Fogarty and his students and learned about Engineering Brightness, an association of teachers hoping to address light poverty by STEM based making. I then ask students to make a polished document or blog post that outlines their proposal. Finally, students share their proposals to the rest of the class to further refine, get help for ideas, or to combine ideas. For me, proposal day is just as important as when students share their final products.
Engineering Brightness Student Proposals
"Create a more efficient source of light for countries that have light poverty using electromagnets" - Alhan's Proposal
"Make a solar powered light but also teach them how to make it so they can fix it if they brake it and also they can make even more if they need them so they are self sufficient" - Liam's Proposal
"one of our goals, would be for Kaleb to start creating a model of our light source in his Industry and Design 10 course, to give us an idea of what it would look like. We could get help from outside sources of the school, with the connections that we have made from the Skype calls, or even with a new source." - Olivia's Proposal
"We could do a bake sale and possibly pair up with another group and maybe work with Citadel Middle School and their leadership team to raise money at their school. - Clare's Proposal
"Raise awareness about the light poverty in the Dominican, and also raise $1000 dollars towards buying/making lights to send to the Dominican Republic" - Sabrina's Proposal
"Our plan is to make a power point on everything that has happened during this project and what other people are doing. To also try and spread awareness for light poverty." - Brynne's Proposal
"We were thinking about working with solar power, because it’s safer and easier to charge the light, we also thought that it’s really interesting and trying new stuff. We are now connecting with a company called Liter of Light to get some ideas" - Maria's Proposal
The above links are just a few of the proposals students shared out to the rest of the class. Each student works out loud sharing their proposals to allow for meaningful commenting. I encourage you to take a look at the proposals and make a meaningful comment.
It has been amazing to watch these students' dreams become a reality. As they connect, design, build, and campaign, they must work as a team. Part of the CBL design is to plan to work together. I will share how we do that in a post: Teamwork makes the dream work.
Thanks for walking with us as we attempt to make a difference in light poverty.
See previous CBL Design Posts:
- Empathize Local and Global Needs
- Co-construct Learning Goals
Consider partnering with us as we fight light poverty in the Dominican Republic