When Haydi and David Sowerine board their plane for Kathmandu today, they’ll be traveling with five AV-tech prototypes they hope will provide new and more robust educational content to Nepalese village schools.
“There are two billion school age children in the world, and the majority have very little educational content in their classrooms,” said David, standing in the garage of their Menlo Park home where 12 volunteer students worked over last summer developing Looma, which is a project of the non-profit Village Tech Solutions the couple founded in 2008.
While schools in developing nations lack the infrastructure and reliable electricity that is necessary to connect with the Internet, many do have widespread cell phone coverage. Looma is a low-power consuming, AV tech device that acts a a portable projection system. It features an interactive whiteboard, Internet connectivity over any mobile data nework and Wi-Fi, online and offline educational content (some of which is pre-loaded), web browsing, and local storage capability, all of which is packaged in a wooden box that is about the size of what a pair of boots would come in.
“The ultimate goal is for a teacher, who is talking to his/her students about sea turtles, the ability to download educational information from the National Geographic, or similar sources, as part of his or her classroom instruction,” said David. “The difference is that Looma makes it interactive.”
Because teacher training is critical, Haydi and David will be spending the next month at schools in three villages near Kathmandu. “We’re partnering with United Mission to Nepal,” said Haydi. “We’re hopeful that once this initial field trial is complete, we can raise the money to build 500 units and expand to other developing countries.”
You can find out more about Looma and how to contribute in a video available online.