Pen-pal network connects Zim students to the world

Phyllis Kachere
Twelve-year-old Tatenda Mavudze, a Grade Seven pupil at Tynwald Primary School in Harare is so determined to change learners’ poor attitude towards Mathematics that she has already made a video multiplication game which she hopes will improve one’s arithmetic skills.

“I have created games like the Cat and Mouse and Multiplication. I have learnt how to design 3D houses, create solar lights, and in my current Level Up Village course, I am learning how to deal with the water crisis by creating 3D boreholes,” she said.
“Not only am I learning to be a creative designer and inventor, I’m also learning how to become an entrepreneur. I have since monetised the multiplication game that I made and am hoping to earn lots of money.”

Tatenda is a member of the international US-based Level Up Village programme that seeks to empower young learners to make a difference in the global village through Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM+Arts).
STEM is designed to promote design thinking and one-on-one collaboration on real world problems between early-childhood development classes, primary and secondary pupils from around the world.

Tatenda says through Level Up Village, she has collaborated with global video game designers, did a global doctors’ DNA course and is now learning how to deal with the current water crisis by learning how to design a 3D borehole.

Participating schools receive fully developed curriculum, teacher training, access to cutting-edge global communication platforms and experienced management of the global collaboration process.

The courses assist the learner to develop the softer skills of global collaboration, critical thinking and communication — a much sought-after skill that prepares young people for the world of work.

In an interview, Level Up Village regional operations manager Mr Ronald Nyamukuwa said:
“In today’s world, key features differentiating job seekers in the same field is ability to relate well with other team members, how strong your network is, how creative you are in problem solving and your ability to articulate yourself in public.”

“At Level Up Village, we aim to develop these skills in participating pupils and lay a critical foundation for them to thrive in this global village. We assist pupils to build global competences by connecting pupils from across the world in a one-on-one relationship through STE(A)M classes which foster 21st century learning and digital literacy skills.”

Mr Nyamukuwa said participating pupils do eight-week courses, half of which are on content-based learning, with the remainder done in the form of a project they collaborate with other students in the US.

He said, if for example the project is on web designing, the local pupil will do half of it, while their US counterpart finishes off or vice versa.

He said any pupil between five and 15 years with an access to a computer and Internet can join.
Some of the primary schools that have participated in the trainings include Tynwald, Wise Owl, Northwood, Gateway, Goldrich College, Westridge, Heritage, Groombridge, Tiny Footprints and Petra Junior School.

He said since Level Up Village’s establishment in Zimbabwe in 2017, between 800 and 1000 pupils have been trained each term.

Eleven-year-old Tawananyasha Mutsvairo, a pupil at Tynwald Primary School, said a collaboration he did during an online game design training has exposed him to a whole new world of technical design on which he says he will build his career on.
“I went to a symposium during training on gaming design and I was impressed.”
“Even adults who attended the symposium where shocked by the level of infor.”

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