PISCES Project Blog

Aug
08

Finishing Up: Computer Lab, Network on Udot, and Teacher Sessions

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August 8th, 2012

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Once again, the team had to split up to achieve all of their goals for the day. As six headed across the lagoon early in the morning to Udot, two more headed back to Chuuk Highschool for the Summer Institute to present on their survey work. The rest remained at the Trukstop to set up the other side of the wireless connection on Weno aimed at Udot.

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With the Solar Computer Lab-in-a-Box weighing down the boat, the ride over to Udot was slow and bumpy. The front-facing winds and high waves made it even more difficult, soaking those in back while leaving those in front with sore muscles.

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The effort was well worth it, though, as the lab went up in almost no time at all; within twenty minutes of removing the side panel, the table was bolted together--all thanks to the incredible help provided by the local community members and school officials. Slots had to be drilled for the security locks and power cables, which was finished shortly after. The computers were quickly set up and plugged in, and ready to be used. With empty hands with extra time, the team gave a brief introduction to the programs and computers in general to the school officials. Before the end of the day, they were typing away in a word document and fiddling with the carnival-tune children's games.

 

Day_11_-_Computer_Lab_and_Wireless_(63)_(530x800).jpg Meanwhile, the other team members were hard at work setting up the network on Udot. While the antenna had been set up the day before, the local networking hardware still needed to be installed and configured.Six hours passed with three technology experts staring at and tapping into dos-prompts for the duration. They installed wires on the ceiling. They drilled numerous holes into concrete. They mounted, removed, and remounted numerous pieces of hardware. They did it all. And by the end of the day, tiny packets of information were reaching their computers from Weno.

 

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Eleven miles separated the Udot and Weno antennas, making it difficult to coordinate and ensure a perfect connection. The team members left behind spent half the afternoon on the roof of the Trukstop. The other half was spent dashing for the ladder to dodge the rain. Showers blew in suddenly and violently, cutting their time on the roof dramatically. After working through some misbehaving hardware, they successfully connected the Udot school to the local network, then connected them to the internet that evening.

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The education team was able to make a presentation on the project to the entire Summer Institute to roughly 400 teachers and administrators. The audience's excitement was tangible, demonstrated by their countless questions posed throughout the day. The example from Macedonia was explained, as the presenters had previously collaborated on research focused on the development. Macedonia went through a ten-year program in which ICT was successfully integrated into their educational system.

 

This caught the Chuukese teachers' attention and conveyed both the incredible work necessary for success as well as the potential benefits. They strongly believed that technology was the key to a successful 21st century education, enabling learning and furthering education. Technology also has the potential of structuring the out-of school experience, with the community utilizing and benefiting from the internet and computers.

 

One young teacher expressed his aspiration: "I would like to keep the students out of the streets, to keep them studying, to be engaged in education activities." Inspired by this, the team encouraged the teachers to open their classroom computers and the internet at Udot and their own schools to the larger community, so that they might organize after-school and summer programs.

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Aug
06

The Solar Computer Lab-in-a-Box Has Arrived!

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August 6th, 2012

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The team got an incredible surprise today, as the solar computer lab-in-a-box showed up at the Trukstop Hotel in Chuuk. We've been waiting all week for it to make it to the island, so we were not expecting someone to appear at the back of the hotel and tell us, "There is a large box in front waiting for you."

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Everyone grabbed their cameras and ran to the front; sure enough, our large plywood and steel container was sitting in the back of a pickup truck, waiting to be dropped back into our hands. The timing couldn't be any better, as the team will be finishing up their work on Udot tomorrow, giving us just enough time to install the table.

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Aug
06

Udot Wireless Connection and Summer Institute

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August 6th, 2012

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With so much work to be done in so many places, the team had to break up into groups, which headed in different directions. A majority of the team headed back to Udot to install the wireless components, which consisted of an antenna, solar panel, and batteries mounted at the top of a steel pole.

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The incredible weight of the pole had already restricted the number of team members able to travel on the boat, but, upon arrival, it also created issues when mounting it. The team had to attach all of the equipment to one end, then lift it to vertical from the other end, until finally adjusting it to fit into a small hole on the ground.

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365456.jpg The job would have been nearly impossible, but nearly twenty community members and their children came out to help. They provided the extra force to lift and stabilize the pole while it was directed into place, and they stayed for hours before and after while the team organized the operation. The team greatly appreciated the support the community members provided, and it was a great sign of their dedication to the project.

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The remainder of the team attended the opening ceremonies of the Chuuk State school system's Summer Institute. There were numerous dignitaries in attendance, who gave the audience words of both inspiration and exhortation, interspersed with songs from local regions that were represesented at the workshop. In total, approximately 400 teachers are attending this Summer Institute, and we look forward to having the floor tomorrow morning to administer surveys to the teachers, and having discussions with small groups of them in the afternoon.

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