Nairobi Immersive Starts!

Today marked an exciting new chapter for OpenWise Learning! We started the pilot of our OWL Immersive in Nairobi, Kenya today.  We are working with an awesome group of kids and we are looking forward to working with them over the next month in the Immersive, and over the coming years. Check out some awesome photos from today!

Fall AYS 2018 Begins

Today we started our Fall 2018 Academic Year Sessions in Washington DC.  Our young scholars will be focusing on SDG 14 (Life Below Water) for their community project this fall.  As in the past, the kids will conduct research on the social, environmental and scientific issues that apply to this goal.  This will entail study of marine biology and ecology.  This fall the kids will also be working on personal projects to expand their knowledge of technology.  Finally, we will be conducting skills labs focusing on computer gaming.

Summer Immersive 2018: Final Week Review

Today marked the end of this part of our OWL Scholars’ journey. However, today was just the end of the beginning.  The kids learned and did so much this week through lessons in electronics and musical computing. Most importantly the kids displayed their knowledge of Tech and SDGs through their culmination projects.  Details and photos are below.

Physical Computing & Electronics

Kids working on LED circuit

Programming LED with Python

This week, the kids built on their Python programming knowledge with electronics.  The kids used the proto-boards they installed at the end of last week to create simple LED circuits.  Their prototype electronics joined various components on a breadboard.  The kids learned general electronics knowledge like how electricity flows through electronic components and how the flow is controlled with resistors.  Finally, they used Python to control their electronics.

Musical Computing

Kids using Sonic Pi to Music Program

Musical Programming with Sonic Pi

The kids got to explore electronics more when they installed and programmed speakers in their computers.  The kids used the programming language Sonic Pi and applied their general programming knowledge to create music.  The applied their knowledge of loops and joined samples, cords, and notes to compose original music.

Project Presentations

The kids spent most of the week working on their culmination projects.  Each project combined some of their technology knowledge with at least one of their favorite SDGs.  Some kids coded textual guessing games with questions about the SDGs. Others coded multimedia websites with information about the SDGs. At the end f the week each kid demonstrated their creations to an audience of parents, and detailed the technology they used to create their projects.  Photos of the presentations and the summer graduation ceremony are below.

Kids about her Life Below Water Site

Kids demonstrates her Life Below Water site

Kid demonstrates her guessing game to her mom

Demonstrating a guessing game to a parent.

Kid demonstrates her website on Climate Action

Demonstrating a Climate Action & Clean Water Site







Kids and their favorite SDGs

Kids and their favorite SDGs

Kids with their certificates

Kids with their certificates


It’s been an exceptional summer and this were an exceptional group of kids to work with.  We are looking forward to the fall when they’ll join the kids from earlier years in our school year program. 🙂

Summer Immersive 2018: Week Four in Review

Another week of learning, and only one more week to go!  This week the kids learned about a few more of the sustainable development goals, expanded their programming skills with an exploration of algorithms and objects.  At the end of the week the kids started to work on electronics and physical computing.  Finally, we caped off this week with a field trip! Highlights are below.

Sustainable Development Goals Logo

Clean Water

Life Below Water SDG IconClimate Action SDG IconAt the beginning of the week the kids explored SDG 14: Life Below Water and SDG 13: Climate Action through an interactive role-playing exercise with our education director Abigail Hazelwood. During the lesson the kids defined water pollution, and discussed some of the causes of water pollution.  The kids also discussed some of the impacts of water pollution to wild life and people, and the global inequality of access to clean water. Then the kids further developed their knowledge of threats to the ocean including climate change, and explored ideas of how to use the ocean sustainably. Finally, the kids acted out scenes (photo above) that detailed what they thought would happen to wild life and humans when water is polluted.

Clean Water & Sanitation SDGIn the middle of the week, the kids further explored water pollution through SDG 6: Clean Water & Sanitation.  The kids reviewed data on the access of clean water around the world. They then discussed why areas of the world have better access to clean and safe water than others. The group also discussed the Flint water crisis in Michigan, and how it is related to our earlier discussions about discrimination. Finally, the kids discussed how they could advocate for clean water in their community and in their country.

Peace & Justice

Peace & Justice SDG IconOur last SDG lesson of the week, and the summer was about SDG 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions. In this lesson the kids reviewed and discussed a series of case studies from around the world to understand what violence is and how it can exist in different forms. They explored and discussed the different reasons for violence around the world, and made connections between local experience of violence and global violence. Finally, the kids worked in groups to develop solutions for preventing violence.

Procedural Programming, Functions & Algorithms

Kid explaining sort algorithms to class.

Explaining number swapping in the sort algorithm

Building on their understanding of procedural programming using functions the kids explored algorithms in many forms.  The kids developed a broad understanding of what algorithms are and were exposed to many different kinds of algorithms that are used every day in computing.  The kids delved deeper on this subject by exploring different kinds of sorting algorithms written in python code.

Graphics, Animation & Object-Oriented Programming (OOP)

Kid coding animation of bouncing balls.

Coding bouncing balls in python using OOP

Later in the week, the kids graduated from textual programs to computer graphics.  They first learned how to create shapes with code, and then learned how to animate the shapes on their screens. The discussion of shapes led into an exploration of objects in computer programming.  Finally, the kids learned how to code their animated shapes using object-oriented programming.

Physical Computing

Kid installing prototyping board

Installing Prototyping Board

At the end of the week, the kids started to ready their machines for our lessons on electronics and physical computing.  The kids expanded their machines by adding prototyping boards, which they’ll use next week to build their own simple electronic circuits.

Field Trip to Open Gov Hub

Kids reviewing causes of potential contributors to the maternal mortality rate in Ghana

Teams reviewing contributors to maternal mortality in Ghana

Our last activity of the week was a day long field trip to Open Gov Hub here in Washington, DC.  The Hub is home to many companies and nonprofit organizations using technology and data to address social and environmental justice issues.

The kids were treated to a tour of the offices, conference rooms and game room at the hub. Global Integrity staff discussed how they use technology and data in their sustainable development work. They also explained their paths through school learning about STEM, social justice, and international affairs.
The team at Global Integrity demonstrated some data science projects they completed in Kenya and Ghana, and they detailed how they are using python, data analytics, and algorithms to illuminate insights in sustainable development.

Finally, the kids worked in teams to delve into Global Integrity’s project related to understanding maternal mortality in Ghana. The kids reviewed the different contributors to maternal mortality and developed hypotheses about which factors contributed most.

It’s been a truly awesome summer, and the kids have come so far since beginning four weeks ago.  Next week is our last week, and the kids will be working on their culmination projects for presentation to their parents. We are looking forward too seeing them show off everything they’ve learned!

Summer Immersive 2018: Week Three in Review

Wow, time really flies!!!  The middle of this week marked the half way point of our Summer Immersive.  We’ve come so far over the past few weeks, and the kids have learned so much.  This week they explored a couple more of the sustainable development goals, and delved into what data is, what is computer programming and started programming themselves.  Highlights and photos from the week are below!

Sustainable Development Goals Logo

Quality Eduction SDG IconAt the beginning of the week the kids explored SDG 4: Quality Education in greater detail through and interactive lesson. The kids discussed the power of education for transforming lives, and the fact that not everyone has the same access to education.  Using online resources they reviewed education data for primary, secondary and post secondary education around the world. Finally, as a group the kids discussed ways to advocate for equal access to education for everyone around the world.

Good Health & Well Being SDG IconAt the end of the week the kids explored SDG3: Good Health & Well-Being.  The kids discussed how we decide what is considered good health and ways they could practice good health. The kids also discussed the fact that many people around the world don’t have affordable access to health care. Finally, the kids discussed what they could do to promote and support good health in their families, and promote and advocate for access to health care in their communities.

What is Data & What is Programming?

Kids programming in python

First Coding Lesson in Python

The tech lessons this week started with an exploration of data in all it’s forms.  The kids discussed how they use data in their lives, how data is all around them, and the difference between data and information.   We later discussed broadly how programing languages work, and how they process data.  The kids reviewed the essential functions of every programming language and wrote their first program which printed “Hello World” to their screens.

Programming: Data and Data structures

After learning how to program basic mathematical calculations and simple output in Python, the kids moved to storing data in variables, and in data structures like list (arrays) and dictionaries. The kids also learned how to process data input from a user to create an interactive program.

Programming: Control Flow & Functions

Scholar explaining conditional her understanding of conditional loops to the class

One of the kids explaining conditional loops

In the second half of the week the kids explored how to control the flow of programs through conditional statements and loops.  The kids learned how to code their programs to make decisions based upon a criteria that they set, and how to leverage the power of computers to do simple tasks repeatedly and quickly.  Finally, the kids learned more about functions and the power of encapsulating a small piece of code to call throughout their programs.

Next week we move on to using functions to great algorithms and object-oriented programing.  It will be awesome! 😀