Jun 8, 2020

May 2020 Online 5-Day Academy Camp "STAY HOME, ENJOY LIFE"

Stayed home to explore the world with camp friends
Stayed home to explore the world with camp friends

Please find a Japanese version of this report here.

Continuing from our first experience of online gathering in March, we held our first full 5-day online camp from May 2 to 6, 2020. This camp was named "STAY HOME, ENJOY LIFE", because it was held during the five-day weekend in Japan when it was recommended for everyone to stay home. 23 children participated from all over the country, not just from Fukushima.

Throughout the camp, we set up 100 challenges we could try off-line, and actually took them on. The challenges included touching a tree, wearing a kimono to take a walk, reading a book they don't like, writing in a diary with the opposite hand of their dominant hands, and so on. At the end of the camp, we set up 50 new challenges towards the post-pandemic world, including conducting research on the questions around them, finding one or more things they can be passionate about, learning three things they didn't know every day, and never forgetting the camp friends.

In addition to the challenges, the camp was full of exciting online events, including "Riddle Solving Adventure Time" where we gave each other clues about scenes from somewhere in the world that we found on online street view which others had to identify, workshop about singing by a famous a cappella singer in Japan, "Sakura Drone" workshop by a drone racer who took video of beautiful cherry blossoms from breathtaking angles across the country and by a drone researcher, improvisation play workshop and a live performance by improvised comedy actors, lecture on astronomy and especially meteor showers by a researcher who has participated in both Hayabusa and ongoing Hayabusa2 missions for asteroid sample-return, and our first online campfire.

Here's what the participants had to say about the camp: "I was able to focus more on the workshops online than off-line." "I've met people online whom I wouldn't have met off-line!" "Now I have a broader view of the world inside me."

Overall, we felt that there were endless possibilities in staying at home. We feel that we can continue to explore such possibilities by not just translating our physical camps to the digital world. We all are looking forward to another occasion to try.

Lighting up for our first online campfire
Lighting up for our first online campfire
If you are happy and you know it, clap your hands
If you are happy and you know it, clap your hands
Telling what they thought about this online camp
Telling what they thought about this online camp
High-school student sub-leader telling her thought
High-school student sub-leader telling her thought
Massive group photo at the end of a workshop
Massive group photo at the end of a workshop

Links:

Mar 26, 2020

Academy Camp Went Online for the First Time

Checking into our first online gathering
Checking into our first online gathering

Please find a Japanese version of this report here.

As we stated in our previous report, we made our first online gathering instead of the spring camp because of the ongoing pandemic of COVID-19, for two days during the three-day weekend in March in Japan. We did one-hour morning and evening sessions each day, and 30-minute preparation time preceding each session.

We sent out invitations to those who were to participate in our cancelled March 2020 spring camp, and in total about twenty children (including eight elementary school students) participated in the online gathering, with six of our staff members. Many of them used the online video communication tool for the first time, but as we spent time playing games to learn how to use features of the tool, like using text chat and breaking out into separate groups, we believe that in the end they could communicate online better than many adults would do. Let us share some of the tips:

1) During the preparation time (first 30 minutes) while newbies tried to figure out how to connect, we shared the whiteboard for scribbles while talking about the drawings and writings so that they can get used to using the tool, know some of advanced ways to use it, and feel that they can actively participate rather than just sit there and watch, all at the same time.

2) We used chat for word games, such as shiritori (word-chain) in Japanese and writing a word one character longer each time, so that they can be fluent in both speech and writing using the tool.

3) We used breaking out feature of the tool to divide participants into groups of small number of people, where each group had our staff member as a facilitator so that children could feel easier to talk.

We also talked about life during the emergency school closure throughout Japan this month. The participants of the talk were all school-related; either students, a teacher or a professor. A girl told us that the life has been stressful, but she also told us that the online gathering eased the stress.

Overall, we had a good feeling about gathering online. Many wanted to do it again. This was actually an experiment, or a pilot program, of activities we may plan throughout this year.

WE NEED YOUR SUPPORT LITTLE BY LITTLE

At GlobalGiving, March 2020 Little by Little matching campaign is ongoing until the midnight of Friday, March 27, 2020 EDT (1pm of Saturday, March 28 in Japan), in which all eligible donations up to $50 per unique donor per organization will be matched at 50%! Please take this opportunity to help children in Fukushima and Academy Camp going through this yet another difficult time.

Many thumbs up!
Many thumbs up!
The whiteboard goes chaotic, but it's fun
The whiteboard goes chaotic, but it's fun

Links:

Mar 3, 2020

Academy Camp 2020 Spring is Canceled But Will Go Partially Online

From Maker Faire Tokyo (2019)
From Maker Faire Tokyo (2019)

Please find a Japanese version of this report here.

This report is to tell our supporters an unfortunate news. In view of the recent epidemic of new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Japan (and elsewhere), we regret to inform you that Academy Camp 2020 Spring "Let's Make a Sports Day to Break Down Preconceived Ideas" is canceled. At least, it is not going to be held at any physical venue.

On February 26, the university to which some of our staff members belong as faculty or students made an announcement, in which the university requests suspending or postponing any events involving their members if any of the following apply:

1) Events with a high possibility of close contacts among participants, or events involving eating and drinking, etc.

2) Events attended by a large number of people at particularly high risk from COVID-19.

It is apparent that our camp meets the condition 1). We could not ignore this request. Yet on the other hand, we have always preached (sort of) the spirit of independence and self-respect when we held our camps. We don't just follow orders.

In the Sci-Fi film "12 Monkeys", in which a virus plays a key role in the plot, the centric character says angrily "This part isn't about the virus at all, is it? It's about followin' orders. About doin' what you're told.” Well, this shouldn't be about following orders or answering requests. This should be about the virus.

So taking this opportunity, we have once again reviewed the propriety of holding the event. For the new coronavirus disease, so far, there are only few reports that children have become seriously ill. However, to protect many people at risk of getting seriously ill, we need to stop the spread of infection. To do so, children too need to try to avoid getting infected as much as possible, and to do so, we should avoid letting children talk for a long time within reach of many people, and reduce their chances of dining with many people. Unfortunately, camping is exactly like spending a lot of time talking with friends and eating and drinking together. That is the reason why we do not think we should go on holding the camp at this moment.

But it is also our spirit to turn everything to good account.

On some of the days or every day of March 20, 21, and 22, when the camp was originally scheduled, we would love to have opportunities to meet the children and their family members online via personal computers with cameras and the Internet access or via smartphones. As the photos attached to this report show, we have many experiences in letting children communicate through computer displays, and we are certain that this will be another great opportunity to extend the children's experiences to work with people through the Internet.

Solving a Puzzle Together (2018)
Solving a Puzzle Together (2018)
Driving a Drone (2017)
Driving a Drone (2017)
From a Camera on an IoT Tag (2016)
From a Camera on an IoT Tag (2016)
Playing Games on Tablets (2015)
Playing Games on Tablets (2015)

Links:

 
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