Kidzilla-Teach the Web

After a very successful MozBooth at Silicon 14, the Sathyabama Firefox Club were all charged up for the string of events this month.
This was flagged off by the KidZilla 1.0 project.
Here is a popcorn link about KidZilla 1.0 initiated by Sathyabma Firefox Club: KidZilla popcorn

KidZilla is an initiative which aims at educating school children about the basics of Computers, internet and other similar stuff in a fun and interactive manner. This is also mainly concentrated on small schools with lesser facilities basically in the outskirts of the city.
Since the club and it’s members stay in and around Chennai, this initiative is local to Chennai as of now. We would however, be glad to expand in the coming months.

In my 12th standard, I had taken up an initiative for an NGO called The Golden Bird Foundation. It was aimed at educating poor underprivileged kids about the basics of Computer technology and internet. It was started by a friend and the name The Golden Bird Foundation(TGBF) is for a reason. Below is an advertisement that actually makes some sense and which I feel is very much relevant.

There was a time when India was called the Golden Bird, and now to make our country the Golden Bird it was once, we now need to build the future of our children and younger generation. Educating and empowering them with technology is one of the ways this can be done and this was the aim of the TGBF. I loved computers as well as teaching people about Computers and internet. Due to personal reasons, I had to withdraw my part from volunteering for the NGO.

It was after volunteering for Mozilla, that I now found time as well as ideas on how to start on an initiative that was once left over at some point by me. There formed the KidZilla project.
Me and a wonderful team of 12 other volunteers went to the SFS School in Kelambakkam, Chennai on the 8th of February.

We all reached Kelambakkam by 9:40 am in the morning. There were 13 of us in total; 7 boys and 6 girls.
The team that came along with me are:

Since the initiative is based on schools, there were volunteers in the team who could speak different languages.
We had covered Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Hindi,Marathi and Gujarati.

At around 9:50 am, the Father who was the principal of the school sent the bus to pick us from the bus stop.
We all got in and started discussing about how to get started. Something that bothered me a lot was that I can’t get involved a lot and interact with the kids if they only wanted to speak in Tamil and not English.I do understand Tamil like all other Malayalees, but can’t speak fluently.

As we reached the school, we saw the Father standing there to welcome us inside. He introduced himself as Father Simon. He then took us to the classroom where the students were assembling to attend our session.

As the students got in, I asked the teacher whether they actually had classes on Saturdays and she says that almost all Saturdays they have classes and that it’s a half day till 12:30.

My team tried to get the internet connection working there.

Meanwhile, I still worried about the language.I asked Jerald to ask them in Tamil whether they wanted to be taught in Tamil or English.

Everyone echoed, “ENGLISH!”
That was a really great moment. I immediately started off with the session by asking them the very basics about a computer like Who invented the Computer? What are Computers used for? What is the difference between a Desktop and a Laptop? The birthday boy(one in colour dress) offered to answer.

I noticed that a group of boys from the back were answering really well.

I enquired about the strength of the class and the teachers told me that there were about 100+ students from 5th,6th and 7th grade.
Damini told them about what is Hardware and Software. The students were really interested in listening about the interesting things computers could do.

Later, I asked them about what internet was. One of them stood up and said, “If we don’t know about something, we type it in the internet, it tells us about it.” I was really impressed because for their age, it was pretty smart.
I then asked them another question, “From where does this information come from? Who gives this information?”
This time, they all had their thinking hats on. The expression of a child when you ask an interesting question and the child is like,”oh well,never thought of that” is really beautiful.

They had many computers behind them, so I explained to them about network, types(LAN,MAN,WAN) and then told them to imagine another school beside their school with the same setup.

If they could access the computer in the adjacent school using this school’s computer, it’s called internet. Now I told them to imagine this all over the world and an inter connection of networks. The now understood the concept.
The teacher tells me that they have bookish knowledge and not much practical knowledge because the school doesn’t have that much facilities. So I decide to ask them how do they access the internet?
They all pointed at something on my laptop that was kept on the desk. I took it to them and they touched the Mozilla Firefox icon. Some touched the google chrome symbol.

I was really happy that they recognized Firefox.
I told them that we are volunteers of Mozilla and Firefox is our browser.
They were all wooed to see live something that they had just seen on computers.

I showed them the badges and the stickers and asked them what the logo was and they all said FIREFOX!!
I was amazed that kids from 5th standard also knew Firefox.
After that, it was time for their break. They all walked away row wise in a straight line guided by their teachers.
As we saw them walk out, it was a moment of nostalgia.

The walking out in an unruly manner during breaks in college to this, things were different.

They returned back after a while. Now, we split ourselves in to groups. 13 of us split as 4 4 5 and separated the kids to 3 classrooms. In this way, we could manage the whole strength and it was more interactive.
In the first classroom was handled by myself,Grace,Damini and Jayanth.

Second one had Nikhil,Shashank,Kanimozhi and Monisha

The last one had Achyuth,Anita,Jerald,Jaya and Satya.

The common topics that were covered in all the classes were:
What is a Computer?
What is the difference between hardware and software?
What is a network and what are the types?
What is internet and how is it useful?
What is operating system?
What is email?
What are web browsers?
How to do a google search?
What is HTML?
How do you create a webpage?

All the classes were taught to practically design their own basic webpage within the limited time we had.
We taught them the basic HTML tags using real life examples such as head, body etc.

After teaching them just once, these students were able to understand the concept and create their basic webpage.
Here is the youtube video of them:

I told them about how programming works and what are the different types of Operating systems.
Since my class had students from 7th and 6th, I told them about the meaning of Open Source in simple terms.

I also told them the difference between Firefox and IE, Mozilla and Microsoft.
They also promised me that once they grow up, they too would go to schools and teach what they know.
It was a proud moment for us.
Lastly, we gave everyone lots of swags and firefox and webmaker goodies. They were all so happy.

We had also given special gifts like badges to those who were answering well in our class and they were proudly displaying them. I felt bad for not having enough badges to give out to all the 100 something students.
We also gave some goodies to the teachers and the Principal too. They were all really happy that students like us were taking up such an initiative and told us to come and conduct more activities there. They also invited us to conducted a session in their main branch at Pudukottai.
After the session ended at 12:30, the principal invited us to have some refreshments inside. We all had a good time discussing about the outcomes of the initiative as well as the drawbacks.

We asked the Father to write an honest review with suggestions to improve and mail us when he gets time.
Since it was a very small school, they had only two school buses and we went in with the students.

Father Simon

I was amazed when one of the students in the bus gave me a pen and a book and asked me for an AUTOGRAPH!

Yes! The kid just asked me to give him an autograph! For the first time in my life, I felt that I actually achieved something! I was extremely happy and wrote ” Then they asked the entire team to sign.
It was a moment close to our hearts. We all got down from the bus later and they waved at us.

Flickr link of images:


5 thoughts on “Kidzilla-Teach the Web

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