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Apr 22, 2019

Robotics Inspires Learning

2018 Honduran Robotics Team Arriving in Mexico
2018 Honduran Robotics Team Arriving in Mexico

Dear Supporters of Shoulder to Shoulder’s Educational Initiative:

By way of introduction, I have been involved with Shoulder to Shoulder since 2001.  In 2018, I became president of Board of Directors.  I also sponsor the overall education program including our efforts in robotics.

In early 2017, Shoulder to Shoulder was contacted by FIRST to help them create a Honduran National Team for their new international robotics event. We were concerned that given the lack of overall technology exposure of the children from southern Intibucá, we would not be able to field a credible team. We tried unsuccessfully to partner with a private school in the capitol city, but they had no interest.   So, we went ahead and got lucky in obtaining an experienced coach mentor, Alan Ostrow (a High School physics teacher from Philadelphia). With his help, the local math teacher coached our team to a 40th place finish in a field of 160+ teams.

In the 2018 global robotics competition, we did even better, placing 16th. See https://first.global/.

In parallel with the First Global effort, we began putting robotics into our bilingual school. Last year, we expanded Lego Robotics to three area high schools and held a “coopertition” among seven municipalities. We are expanding the robotics program to other schools in our service area where we can find local coaches willing to run the teams.

The robotics program falls within our emphasis on STEM. Also in this program is our project to deliver Khan Academy math and science first to our bilingual school and then to 23 additional schools in our service area. We are using technology from https://learningequality.org/kolibri that delivers Khan, CK-12, and other curriculum locally without internet. We are working to expand this program substantially this year and have recently obtained the Honduran textbooks in digital form.

In addition to our main web site, we also maintain another dedicated to the education efforts: http://hondurasrobot.org/. This contains more detail on robotics and other education technology efforts.

In closing, I want to thank you for your long-term significant support of education.

Very sincerely yours,

Dick Buten

Children using technology at elementary school
Children using technology at elementary school
Mar 28, 2019

Delays and Challenges in Getting Micronutrients out to 2800 Children

Mother and 3 children January 2019
Mother and 3 children January 2019

The MANI 5 Extension grant started on September 1, 2018. It was designed as a 12 month project, with an ending date of August 30, 2019.

Starting at the beginning of September, Shoulder to Shoulder worked with the Mathile Institute to place an order of Chispuditos with Alimentos (the company in Guatemala that produces the product).  The order was meant to provide enough Chispuditos for the October 2018 and January 2019 distributions. Unfortunately, due to a problem with the testing of the product, the delivery of the product was delayed for two months. This meant that there was NO DISTRIBUTION of Chispuditos in October 2018, as should have happened.

Once the testing problem was resolved, a new problem arose – due to changes in the Honduran government, Alimentos was not allowed to transport the product into Honduras. The problem was finally resolved in January 2019, with Alimentos contracting with another company to bring the product into Honduras. The Chispuditos arrived at StS’s clinic the 3rd week of January. Our staff worked hard, and by the first week of Feb, all families received their 3 bags of Chispuditos.

We were succesfully able to get the micronutrient product delivered to the 2800 children due to the collaboration between our 2 MANI project staff and 23 Community Health Workers.  This project is truly a "community effort." 

 

Mother and youngest child January 2019
Mother and youngest child January 2019
Jan 22, 2019

When Parents are Engaged, Children Prosper

Teachers from many kindergartens gather together
Teachers from many kindergartens gather together

We called it the “Kindergarten project.” In early 2018, as a new school year was beginning in Honduras, a parent approached to say that their child’s kindergarten teacher was interested in being part of our computer-assisted learning initiative. At the time, our education programs focused on grades 1-9. Nonetheless, we decided to meet with the teachers.  At the end of the meeting, our team offered to help fund, along with their parent association, half a television set to project English learning programs to an entire classroom of children. Our vision was for the kindergarten to pay us back and offer half-funding to another school in the future.

In September, we visited and checked-in on the project and were amazed at how the kids interacted with the program through the television screen --  singing songs in both English and Spanish and learning to pronounce the sound of the English letters (see video).

In exchange for the assistance they received from Shoulder to Shoulder, we asked them to host a meeting with kindergarten teachers from other local towns to share their advances in the project. In mid-November when the meeting took place, teachers from 5 different kindergartens – representing 4 towns were present. The meeting was a success, and a number of teachers expressed interest in joining next school year!

We as an organization are very thankful and impressed with the success of our Kindergarten project and seeing the enthusiasm and gratefulness amongst the parents and the teachers causes us to also be excited to expand next year. 

We saw that empowering community members was fruitful for both parties. 

We’ve seen that finding community motivation, support and initiative is like hitting the jackpot.

Watch video: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1-dlFUJ7CS3TOxPU_EEEZtg7coMrvrg4Z/view

 
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