Ariam's ARCADE

Many Abilities//Many Paths//Many Communities

In 2015 I founded the Nairobi Play Project, a play-based model for intercultural learning to break down socially constructed boundaries and narratives which prevent us from resolving conflict and building community. I’m incredibly proud of how this project has grown over the last three years. It’s currently being implemented by UNICEF Kenya.


Have questions? Check out this FAQ:

What is it? A creative computing initiative which supports organizations equip adolescents with technical skills (STEAM) and 21st century skills, which is inclusive of intercultural competence and global citizenship. Three core goals of the initiative are to create joyful and meaningful learning experiences for children, support their capacity to thrive in the current and future workforce, and embolden them to build a better world.

How is this different from other STEAM models? The recent trend in education has been to teach STEM/STEAM to equip youth with skills to solve problems, but sometimes we fail to take an interdisciplinary approach. This model encourages organizations to leverage STEAM and making to support children solve real-world problems which are not necessarily science or tech-related. Some of the greatest challenges our world faces are conflict, climate change, economic inequality and migration. There are technical elements to addressing these challenges but ultimately these are human problems which require human-to-human solutions. This model does not prioritize one subject or discipline over another, it produces learning experiences which immerse children in using different skillsets which converge and diverge to solve a meaningful and relevant problem.

How is this different from other peacebuilding or conflict resolution models for education? Sports is a very popular tool used in peacebuilding and education programming. Similar to sports, this model incorporates values such as teamwork and individual and collective responsibilities, which can help children to develop the values and skills necessary to prevent and resolve conflict in their lives. What’s unique about this model is that it leverages narrative and storytelling to engage children in perspective-taking, while sports leverages a universal experience that doesn’t engage children in the issues which are at the root of the conflict. This model results in an artifact which young people create together, an artifact that communicates a narrative that represents (and respects) different perspectives, which everyone contributes to through dialogue and debate. Core to this model is the shared experience of “making”, which can be powerful for bridging gaps between different communities.

What skills are young people acquiring? How are you measuring this? The initiative is designed to meet a number of learning outcomes mapped to (1) computational thinking (2) computer programming (3) 21st century skill development (4) intercultural competence and (5) global citizenship. Program learning outcomes are aligned to international frameworks and standards developed by UNESCOInternational Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA) and Partnership for 21st Century Learning (P21). We administer a few validated assessments to measure these skills including the CTt (computational thinking) and Commutative assessment (programming concept inventory). Above any assessment, we value the learning journeys of our participants, which is expressed and reflected in the artifacts they create.

I’m interested in this project. Where can I find the curriculum and other materials? We’re still refining our model, but it’s coming out soon and we’re looking for collaborators to help us test and iterate on it!

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