Karkhana (Karkhana Science Program, Karkhana Computing and Karkhana Make)
- Nepal, Gyneshwor, Kathmandu
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Karkhana, an education company and makerspace, wants to empower people with the skills & attitudes that will help them build their future and the future of their community. We create and run innovative workshops to teach Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) to kids from 8 to 14 years old through playful fabrication projects. The company is contributing to renovating the education system in Nepal, a very poor country, striving to improve education for a large portion of society including rural and mountain regions.
The aim of Karkhana is to nurture a spirit of innovating locally so as to make a global impact. We want to empower people with the skills & attitudes that will help them build their future and the future of their community.
We will do this by showing children creative ways of using science and technology. Children will learn how science and technology can help them solve the problems in their own lives, in their community, in their country, and globally.
Yes, Karkhana is able to sustain its operation employing 60 members in three different cities. Every year we have grown by 60% in average in the past seven years.
We have three different methods of working
1. We collaborate with school to empower the existing teachers in the school to adopt hands-on ways of teaching and learning. We provide teachers with lesson plans, workbooks, and materials needed to run the activity in their existing classroom. We support teachers with an online platform where they can watch instructional videos. Beside that teachers are invited to Karkhana Headquarters four times a year to participate in teacher development sessions.
2. We send our trained and experienced teacher to schools. Our teacher goes to school to model how to use materials in the classroom to meet the learning objectives as per government curriculum. Our teacher takes classes, observes classes and gives feedback to teachers to help them adopt activity-based learning. Our teacher uses the STEAM framework to design and deliver learning experiences for the students.
We run project-based classes at Karkhana headquarters. Parents bring their children. Students are given problem statements which they have to solve. These prompts are open ended and teachers support students based on their interest and solution they want to build. These sessions are 12 weeks long and led by the student’s curiosity.
Parents pay us through schools. We also apply for some grants that are available in education and innovation.
Contributing to renovating the education system in Nepal, a very poor country, striving to improve education for a large portion of society including rural and mountain regions. The present system is still based on traditional didactical methods. Karkhana has promoted creative thinking and innovation.
The “Karkhana Science Program” has a real and big impact on formal science education and aims to better prepare pupils for the future world of work.
I have never been satisfied with the way I got educated. I always questioned where I could apply whatever I learned. Most of the time I got answers neither from my parents, nor from my teachers. I used to make and break stuff from childhood. I studied science and biology in high school and did a bachelor's degree in electronics and communication engineering. Sixteen years of my life spent on studying without knowing and understanding its application whereas I applied STEAM concepts without realizing it during my childhood.
After graduating from college, I realized that I don’t have the right skills needed in the industry. It validated my skepticism about education that the school system is not preparing us for the unknown future but making us clerks who can only follow instruction. To equip students with 21st century skills i.e. communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity, we started Karkhana as a company that designs learning experiences to foster these 21st century skills.
With seven year of experience experimenting with education, we are now able to establish that being a Karkhana teacher is cool and we are able to give something back to our community and to the whole world.
Karkhana has a real and big impact on formal science education and aims at real change in society in Nepal. Many people, after graduating, don’t have the right skills needed in the industry and the work, because the school system is not preparing pupils for the unknown future but making us clerks who can only follow instruction. Karkhana was born to equip people with 21st-century skills i.e. communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity.
The science lessons are designed with two learning outcomes
1. Scientific concept: Each activity is designed to give an experience of one scientific concept
2. Scientific skills: Each activity is designed for learners to practice scientific skills.
The lesson plan follows the CAT model to teach one specific scientific concept that ties with the curriculum. CAT - Curiosity Activity Thinking - is a lesson planning model in which students are first encouraged to think about the concept, then made to do an activity and asked questions that promote critical thinking.
Building upon the scientific concept, the lesson plan aims to build one scientific skill in each lesson which is inspired by the MYP science curriculum. Each lesson builds scientific thinking skills like analyzing, classifying, observing, experimentation, hypothesizing, modeling, recognizing patterns, etc.
We are moving from service model to product model. Meaning, we used to send our trained teacher to school which is expensive and does not create the impact that we want to see. Now we are giving a bag full of kits needed to run experiments for the whole year to students in grade 6,7 and 8. This solves the problem of materials management for science teachers. Also, since the science teacher in the school uses these materials to teach science lessons, the cost is reduced significantly. All the kits are designed and manufactured in house, which makes us independent and reduces cost with scale.
The teacher support system is built by providing teachers and students with a workbook. A workbook is an illustrated lesson plan that follows the CAT model.
Curiosity: This section of the lesson plan gets students excited about the science concept.
Activity: Students will be guided to do two to three activities that demonstrate the science concept.
Thinking: Critical thinking question for students to answer and for teachers to ask for a deeper understanding of the concept.
Teachers have access to an online platform where they can watch instructional videos. Also, the video explains in brief how to make students curious, how to run the activity and thinking questions to be asked to promote higher order thinking.
Teachers are invited to Karkhana four times a year to attend professional development sessions. Science teachers are also observed and given feedback by Karkhana teachers.
Karkhana believes in making way for learning. Hands and mind need to be connected to have meaningful learning. Karkhana follows a wheel that has creating at its center. While creating students follow a design thinking cycle that we call TMPI - Think Make Play Improve. Students are given a problem or challenge or project as a prompt for making. Students work in groups, share idea (see figure 1 Kharkana wheel).
60% of the work that Karkhana does is research and development. We follow the TMPI - Think Make Play Improve model in almost everything we do. Teachers have freedom to design their own lesson, they can access tools and resources available in the makerspace. We take feedback from students, teachers and school leaders at the middle and at the end of each academic year and make changes as per their need.
The whole of Karhana is divided into communities of practice. We have six communities of practice
1. Community of Teachers
2. Community of Designers of Product and Knowledge
3. Community of Sales and Marketing
4. Community of Administration
5. Community of Law and Finances
6. Community of Production and Procurement.
Each community has freedom to set their own rules and accountability structure. Community practices are accountable to OKR - Objective and Key Results. Objective and Key Results for one quarter is set by top to down and bottom up approach. The strategic team presents direction to where should Karkhana head to and each community has its say on these directions and expected outcome to meet the objectives.
The whole of Karkhana can be thought of as a bigger community of practice. Each community exists because every member in the community is committed to make their practice better and to transfer their learning. In each community newcomers learn from old timers. Community members learn by observing, modeling, problem solving, requesting for information, seeking experience, reusing assets, building an argument, growing confidence, discussing developments, documenting projects, visits, mapping knowledge and identifying gaps.
The term “community of practice” is a recently developed idea by Etienne and Baverly Wenger-Trayner, even though the phenomenon it refers to is age-old. The history of traditional vocation and modern vocation in Nepal can be identified as communities of practice. Karkhana has adopted the community of practice for the past two years.
Karkhana programs are launched at all levels of private schools as well as public school. Students of different socio-economic backgrounds, ethnicity, and minorities attend these schools.
We use the STEAM (science technology, engineering, art & design and mathematics). We integrate robotics, coding, and design and visual communication while designing learning experiences.
Karkhana follows the Karkhana wheel while designing the lesson, while working in a team and while delivering the learning experience to students. In Karkhana Innovator’s Club (KIC) program and practice they promote positive interdependence among students. These interactions are mostly face to face and some happen via digital platforms. Students work in teams and take accountability of their work. Students share ideas in groups, build prototypes following the TMPI design thinking cycle and exhibit their work to friends and family.
Science is a subject that is taught globally and the concepts are the same. Karkhana science kits, workbook and online resources are designed to serve the students of South Asia. Karkhana science: http://karkhana. asia/productDetail?type=science#
Also, Karkhana has designed an open curriculum for computing. The Karkhana computing curriculum: http://karkhana.asia/productDetail?type=computing. Workbooks are designed based on the curriculum that is contextual to South Asia.
In Karkhana Innovator’s club (KIC) students are presented with open ended prompts. The prompts are related to real life problems and challenges. Students have freedom to come up with their own ideas to address the prompt. The session is led by student’s interest and the teacher facilitates the session based on the ideas of different student groups. Students work in teams to find a solution, decide which idea to work on, fail on their idea, together they come up with a better idea and finally present it as a group.
Karkhana addresses the need to change how computers and technology are being taught. It reimagines computing education for primary school students through a completely redesigned curriculum and workbooks. The curriculum and workbooks begin from the premise that happy children make good learners. It encourages teachers to allow children to interact and learn from each other. Where possible, we recommend that students across grade levels be permitted to collaborate and learn from each other.
The curriculum and workbooks rest on 3 pillars Computational Thinking
The ability of children to interact with technology in a creative and meaningful way will be critical to their own livelihoods. Computing has begun to influence disciplines and professions beyond engineering to science, economics, finances, archaeology, journalism, humanities, etc. Problem solving, analyzing solutions and spotting patterns in data - these are all essential skills for life which can be taught through computational thinking.
With the increasing access to screens, social media and high-speed internet, people are increasingly using videos, illustrations and pictures. Visual communication skills today have become essential, and need to be fostered in children.
Due to the fact that a lot of young children embrace technology every day without examining the consequences of their actions online, it is essential to bring digital citizenship into the curriculum.
Karkhana is held together by four core values.
1. We exist for our people
2. We evoke emotion through our work
3. We push our boundaries in everything we do
4. Sharing beyond to catalyze change
We live by our values and sharing beyond Karkhana to catalyze change. We act on it every time we see an opportunity.
Karkhana promotes 21st century skills – communication, collaboration, creativity and critical thinking. We practice what we preach. We are always open for ideas and collaboration with national and international organizations. We first try to understand the values, vision and mission of the partner organization, if we find synergy, then we collaborate.
Karkhana is not just an organization, it is like a living organism that adapts with the change in the environment. Karkhana is a very agile organization and its community is always striving to be best in their practice. For example, the community of teachers is always adopting new teaching techniques. They design workshops and run it for themselves. They document the feedback from the works and improve the content for the next workshop. The learning is institutionalized and becomes a part of the training module for newcomer teachers.
In a similar way, all the communities are also institutionalizing their learning.
Besides the community of practice. Karkhana has product teams. Each product uses the human resources from each community of practice to run the product. For example, Karkhana science product has a product lead. The product lead negotiates human resources from the community of teachers to run a teacher training program, researchers from the community of designer for product and knowledge, sales person from sales and marketing community, budget from finance and legal community and other resources from the admin community.
The product lead sets the process in coordination with each community leads so that the product functions effectively.
Each community has accountability to create processes, check list, standard operating procedures, etc. The company has its 5-year-plans that are broken into four eighteen months plans, each eighteen months is broken down into three six months plans and each six months is broken into two three months plans. Each three month is a quarter that has objective and key results defined. This objective and key result document governs the whole organization. The long-term plan is reflected every six months.
In this way all Karkhana processes, lesson plan, financial information, policy, long-term strategic plan, meeting notes, etc. everything is documented.