2017-09-29

Students from Jbeil Second Public School came-up with an incredible idea to address the issue of sexual harassment in school toilets.  When asked if this had happened in their school and when, they said it had in the past but that it probably had happened in many other places and that no one is speaking or doing anything about it.   They said, that we think of the problem after it occurs, so we would rather think about ways to prevent things like that from happening rather than lament when it is too late.

“We loved the idea for it was a real crucial social problem, not only in our school, as we expect, but in many others. Our social assistant regularly discusses this issue with students and we always try to prevent it. Nevertheless, for sure, if such an act happens in a toilet, no one will know about it, and even if anyone knows, it will be too late. So, here is the Coder-Maker on the "Raspberry Pi "to think about as a tool to solve that problem. (Teacher, Coder-Maker Reflective report)

The idea appeared to be extremely challenging, yet during the sharing moments in working sessions their peers as well as teachers and principals from other schools got excited about the idea.

It encouraged them tremendously. The question they asked themselves was: How might technology be used to detect two persons in the toilet?

The seven participating students, four Syrians and three Lebanese, met regularly with their teachers everyday at the break but also on Saturdays. They all had amazing energy and commitment to the project. They learnt Python programming and worked on some design challenges with their teacher.

Early on in the project, one of the Syrian students invited a friend of his: “Join us, I am sure you will love what we are doing”. Indeed, he joined the team and they met regularly despite the fact that two of the Syrian students were working during the weekends and some evenings in a restaurant.

The difficult part of the project was to imagine and design a solution. They sketched a drawing and explored various types of sensors thinking that although a camera might detect people in the bathroom, it is not possible to use one. So what type of sensors might detect that two persons are inside a toilet?

They contacted a professor in robotics engineering that they knew, who works in Sweden. He said that this project was too complex for grade 8 and grade 9 students because it required deeper knowledge and higher skills. They took it as a challenge and kept working, visited several electronic stores in Lebanon and explored the Coder-Maker kit that they received as part of the project.

The support they got through visits, discussions and working sessions helped them in many ways, particularly when they felt discouraged after researching and testing all types of sensors.

We realized that we had to think differently when you told us: It is not all about sensors!

They started by sketching their prototype and built a mock-up of their school toilets to scale taking into consideration that the door of the toilet can be opened to the outside and the door won’t reach the floor and even won’t reach the ceiling.

Jbeil Public School Students with two Coder-Maker Volunteers during a working session.

They got two figurines and imagined all sorts of scenarios, where to put a sensor, what and how it would detect someone coming in or the movement of the person. The problem seemed very complicated and they were started to feel desperate again; they had knocked on every door.

The solution revealed itself to be much simpler than they thought and they were able to solve their problem with only two ultrasonic sensors. They come up with the solution by exploring the various possibilities during two working sessions around their sketches as they tried to justify their designs with mentors and volunteers. As the project came to completion, grade 9 students presented and passed they Brevet National exams. They will come back to their school to continue working on the project and build a real prototype.

Jbeil Public School

Coder-Maker Students and Teachers 2016-2017

“Don’t give up when a problem gets complicated.” Omran, G9, Syrian

“See things from different perspectives.” Elina, G9, Lebanese

“Prevent a social problem from happening not only solve it after it happens.” Nizar, G8, Syrian

“Critical thinking in a group-work always works.” Mohamed, G8, Syrian

“Coding is the new dimension in learning.” Alex, G8, Lebanese

“Think out of the box.” Jessica, G8, Lebanese

“Everyone in the group gives something small in order to achieve a great project.” Ali, G9, Lebanese

“It is amazing to be introduced to new ways of thinking and finding solutions in a Raspberry flavored way. The most important thing my students got is thinking” Diana, Teacher, Sciences

“A new process in dealing with challenges and social problems.” Roula, Teacher, Social