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Canton Teacher Hopes To Bring Learning, Technology To South African Students

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Achieve Charter Academy teacher Kim Jaster will travel to South Africa. She hopes to establish a connection between Achieve and students in Cape Town. (photo: Achieve Charter Academy)

CANTON (WWJ) -- Achieve Charter Academy in Canton, Michigan is sending one of its teachers, Kim Jaster to Cape Town, South Africa to teach students at Cape Academy of Math, Science and Technology about solar cars and their relationship with alternative energy.

Eventually, the goal is to have students in the two classrooms provide lessons to each other through the help of a computer technology called Raspberry Pi, a computer that functions without electricity, which is in short supply in Africa. The school has also partnered with the Sonlig Project to have the video and curricular content developed by our students and loaded onto a version of the Sonlig Mobile Digital library.

"My son put together these two cars and we videotaped this whole process," Jaster said. "We took the video and we put it on what we call a Sonlig  and we put the video onto a SD card, so that when we get to South Africa,  we will be having the kids there watch the video through their phones."

The students at Cape Town can use the devices to review the lessons and build their own solar cars.

"When I first initially talked about it, I said that this is going to be a possibility in a class where I had an overwhelming amount of kids who wanted to be in that class," Jaster said. "Once they got into it, and I started telling them about what we are going to be doing, their eyes were just huge -- they just glowed because the prospect of talking to another country and being able to work with these other kids was far beyond anything they'd ever seen."

Jaster and others left for South Africa on Friday through the program which is in collaboration with Eastern Michigan University. She hopes this trip will be the first of many to share educational expertise about science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) skills.

"The heart of America's educational renaissance is STEM and its connectedness is the secret," Jaster said. "With it, students get the relevance they need to be more mindful about their learning."

Jaster said she is hopeful this project will take off quickly and provide her students with a greater global awareness.

"I hope my students will have a new perspective that highlights education as a tool for a better life, not just a test score to achieve," Jaster said. "When people touch hands with people across great distances, the quest for global interdependence and peace becomes reachable."

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