1) Why did you start Hackidemia?
In the summer of 2011 I decided to leave Google and go to an orphanage in Cambodia where I could work with 100 children of all ages and teach them how to speak English and use new technology. After working with them for four months and setting up a computer lab I realized that the kids worked much better in mixed groups as the older ones that spoke better English would explain to the younger ones how to use the computers or solve different tasks.
This methodology of circles of study also has the advantage that the kids who are explaining need to understand very well the concepts in order to be able to explain them to someone else. That was the aha moment for me and I decided that I would try to replicate this learning model in other countries and see if it has the same results.
After participating at Singularity University as the Education Teaching Fellow I realised that there was a missing element in this way of learning which is the intrinsic motivation that children get when they work on something that is meaningful for them and their community so I decided to integrate the social challenge component for this learning activities and this is how Hackidemia was born.
Together with a team of Singularity Students(Bobi, Libby) and teaching fellows (Brent) we decided to create this platform of STEM hands-on workshops that would allow kids and young people to solve local problems. Like this they could learn how the basic of microelectronics and programming work and build their own solar panel or water filter system.
We believe this new learning model focused on children and young people could kickstart the use of new technologies and science in local communities and in developing countries by promoting the crafting of extremely affordable solutions.
2) Do the founders of Hackidemia work on this full time?
I work on it full time and Bobi and Brent part time.
3) How were past Hackidemia projects funded?
By local organisations and schools, parents subscriptions.
4) What is Hackidemia? A for-profit? An NGO? A social enterprise?
5) Where do you see Hackidemia in the future? What kind of initiative will it grow into?
Our goal is to create 10 permanent labs and create a first prototype of the social challenge hub for kids platform in the first 12 months Each lab could train and kickstart teams from neighbouring areas and this will lead to 100 labs in next 3 years who will be designing and using the social challenge for kids platform. This will create a new learning model but also a possibility of getting kids and young people involved in social challenges
6) How many countries / cities has Hackidemia been conducted in?
Cambodia, France, Germany, Romania, Bulgaria, US, Brazil, Nigeria, Ireland. More than 1500 kids and 100 volunteers.
7) Could you briefly share with us your elevator pitch for Hackidemia?
HacKidemia is a a mobile invention lab that enables future change-makers to crowdcraft physical and virtual artifacts by attending and creating hands-on workshops. City by city, this will kickstart the development of community invention spaces for people of all ages.
8) What are some of the key things that people find intriguing when you explain Hackidemia?
- working with extremely affordable technologies, people find it amazing that same prototypes could be created with local ressources in Nigeria and US
-inclusive methodology people of all ages can participate to our workshops and share their knowledge with the kids
-6 years old are soldering complex electronics units (age has nothing to do with skills and kids have no limit)
9) What are some of Hackidemia's success stories?
Maker Fair Lagos: managed to train 50 volunteers and 400 kids in one week. Got amazing reviews in press (see article in the guardian) and feedback from all participating schools.
10) What is the largest workshop you have had? Around how many per workshop? We never do a workshop with more >5 participants because then you loose the personalized learning/ exploring experience. One of the most successful workshop was the micro-electronics workshops because kids understood they could combine any sort of component and create various projects by using the same materials.
11) Where are these workshops usually held and who participates in them?
In co-working spaces, schools, or local hackerspaces. Kids of all ages 6-16 and their parents. Volunteers and members of organisation team.
12) Do participants have to pay a fee to join the workshops?
Generally no, only if we can't find enough funding to cover the costs of our materials.
13) How long do these workshops usually last?
8 workshops/ 3 hours with a 10 min break.
14) Have you faced any language barriers in previous workshops in Europe or Cambodia?
No. Because it's hands-on experience kids and mentors don't need necessarily to speak same language and usually there are local volunteers and parents that help when translation is necessary.
15) How do you explain complex scientific terms to kids?
By making analogies with elements from their environment, drawing them and if possible most of the time showing them the phenomenon in action.
16) What are some of the concerns parents / teachers / guardians usually have?
Security but we never had problems with kids security.
17) What happens after the workshops?
Kids present their projects to all the participants and the parents. they also receive a certificate of participation and the link to all our ressources so they can keep on hacking at home.
18) What happens to the artifacts / robots / things built after the workshops?
Local teams of volunteers get to keep them so they can keep on continuing to organise workshops.
19) How do you measure the impact of a workshop?
By the quality of presentations of projects and by the fact that kids never want to leave the place:)
20) What are the outcomes / outputs you look for after a workshop?
-To get kids interested in making things and continue to do it at home
-Getting parents interested in supporting their kids to make similar projects in the future and continue it at home.
-Training a local team to work with kids and continue to organise hands-on workshops.