Collaborating with government officials and heads of schools, Powering Potential designs and implements two Educating-Through-Technology programs: a Computer Lab program and a Pi-oneer program. The three main goals of these programs are:
- Providing access to offline digital educational resources
- Providing schools with technology infrastructure (computers and solar power) so that they can offer the national curriculum of Information and Computer Studies
- Offering technology training
See information below about the Pi-oneer program and the Computer Lab program which is implemented in two phases, Phase 1 and Phase 2, as well as descriptions of the computer equipment and solar equipment.
The Pi-oneer is an innovative teaching tool consisting of a Raspberry Pi computer with RACHEL offline educational content that includes Khan Academy videos, as well as a mobile projector and a solar recharging unit. Teachers can take the Pi-oneer into their classrooms and display educational videos and other visual teaching materials to students. Twenty schools in Tanzania have a Pi-oneer.
Computer Lab-Phase 1
Powering Potential works with the local district education officer to choose the schools. Each school must provide a secure room with tables and chairs. We install a 170-watt solar energy system and a small computer network with RACHEL offline educational content. We use Raspberry Pi computers which are low wattage and run on DC electricity. We also provide Internet access equipment and use Open Source software.
Our offline educational content, RACHEL (Remote Access Community Hotspots for Education and Learning), is produced by Worldpossible.org. It includes selected Wikipedia articles, Khan Academy math and science educational videos, medical reference books, ebooks of world literature from Project Gutenberg and other materials.
We collaborate with school officials to identify one or two permanent teachers at each school who have some computer experience and are committed to managing the computer lab and delivering basic technology instruction as part of their teaching workload. After we install the Phase 1 equipment, Powering Potential offers a two week specialized Train-the-Trainer course to prepare these teachers to teach the Powering Potential curriculum. If there is no such teacher available at a school, we work with the school to find a teacher from VETA (Vocational Education and Training Authority). Technology instruction consists of the basics of networks, hardware, software (word processing, spreadsheets, presentation and database), file management, RACHEL, email, and web research.
Phase 1 has been completed at Endala and Slahamo Secondary Schools in Karatu District and Lake Natron, Soit Sambu and Nainokanoka Secondary Schools in Ngorongoro District and Mekomariro, Sazira and Kabasa Secondary Schools in Bunda District. The teachers and students now have basic computer literacy skills and are able to access the RACHEL offline educational content.
Computer Lab-Phase 2
The purpose of this phase is to enable the school to offer the national curriculum of Information and Computer Studies courses. This phase commences after the district provides a government-qualified computer teacher to the school. Powering Potential then expands the solar energy system and installs 15 more computers, for a total of 20 computers. The school arranges for the additional tables and chairs.
Phase 2 of the program has been completed at Banjika, Welwel, Florian and Baray Secondary Schools. These schools can now offer the Tanzanian national four-year curriculum of Information and Computer Studies courses.
Powering Potential uses the Raspberry Pi computer and a low-power monitor. Together the computer and monitor consume less than 10 watts and run on DC electricity. On the local server, we install Open Source software and RACHEL educational content including Khan Academy videos. We also provide a wireless router and modem for Internet access but use of the educational content is not dependent on the Internet.
Powering Potential works with Ensol Tanzania Limited based in Dar es Salaam.
In Phase 1 we install two 85-watt panels, three 108Ah batteries, a 15 amp charge controller, a 350 watt inverter, and a lightning arrestor and earthing system.
In Phase 2 we add more solar panels, six new batteries and a new charge controller. The replaced batteries and charge controller are then transported for use in a new Phase 1 installation.