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The STEM Up project is entering its second phase in the Hunt Institute’s Global Development. STEM UP Phase I: Empowering Engineering for Rural STEM Access focused on place-based education specifically targeting rural schools that do not have the same support for STEM initiatives as some urban schools do.

Phase II Centered around helping students interested in computer science develop an understanding of basic engineering principles, the project hopes to transform the classroom into a digital learning environment by offering easily accessible resources and instructions. The average school education plan does not have the resources to provide these educational tools for their students resulting in the students lacking an important part of applicable school concepts. STEM Up aims to bridge the gap between school education and affordable additional practice for young students to help them find or pursue engineering.

Originally, the STEM Up project aimed to create an educational kit using Raspberry Pi, LAN devices, and low-price tablets. The kit targeted students 10 to 14 years old in rural areas. It is specifically geared toward computer science applications because of its practicality in industries such as software and civil engineering, business, and information technology.

Phase II of STEM Up is evolving. We are redesigning the kit to be tested by students in Tintinto Primary and Secondary School located in a village in the The Gambia, a Western country in Africa. It will incorporate an Intranet setup and display devices to create a low cost, portable computer lab which can adapt to the lack of stable electricity and broadband connection in rural areas like Tintinto. The kit will contain all of the materials of an introductory engineering education to inspire students to pursue new topics in their education. Teachers will be able to curate and preload materials, media, and interactive games to augment their curriculum as they introduce computers and their functions to students.

Due to the restrictions in response to COVID-19, plans to travel to the school and interact with both teachers and students to better understand their needs has been delayed. We continue to test the kits capabilities in hopes that once the pandemic is over, we can resume working with the school to develop STEM Up kits that meet their needs.

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