This piece was written by Nicole Gorman, Education World contributor, and originally ran on Education World on October 12, 2015.
Level-Up Village (LUV) has been helping students connect to global communities while learning STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) skills since 2012.
LUV offers global STEAM enrichment courses for K-9 students in the U.S. and in 19 different countries, where it has 30 different global partnerships that participate in-school, after-school and summer school courses.
Most recently, All Saints Academy in Winter Haven, F.L. became one of 65 participating U.S. schools using LUV. This semester, it has teamed up with Kenya Connect to teach students in its after-school program coding and game design with partners from Kenya!
Each class period, students follow LUV’s Global Video Game Designers curriculum, where students learn video game design and pre-coding to build games and animations using MIT’S Scratch program. As their global partner students follow the same curriculum, each class period ends with a video message between partners to share the learning experience.
LUV provides 30% of the profits earned from its courses to help aid the classrooms in the developing countries it partners with. According to the organization’s site: “[T]ime and time again we have seen that our courses lead to broadened minds and dissolved borders. Never have intercultural fluency, global citizenship and acquisition of critical thinking skills been so easily within our students’ reach.”
For Kenya Connect, like many of LUV’s global partners, LUV’s global courses provide an opportunity for the non-profit to help increase access to technology by offering computer and program access in its solar-powered Resource Center.
Though Kenya Connect has 55 different partner schools in the area it services, only a handful have electricity and none have computers. For the students participating in the Global Video Game Designers curriculum, many are using computers and experiencing technology for the very first time.
Patrick Mthini Munguti, Technology Education Specialist for Kenya Connect, calls the ability for students to participate in the global enrichment program “fascinating” and so far says it has been able to teach participating students vital 21st century skills.
“The children have been able to learn about critical thinking, being creative and being innovative in order to solve a problem,” said Munguti. “They have also learned about the engineering process. For example, the children have learned that after creating or coding a sprite, it may not do exactly what was on their mind, and therefore they need to improve what they created.”
And in All Saints Academy, students also felt inspired by the global partnership.
“The first and most obvious thing we noticed is how very seriously our partners take their video recordings,” said Heather Womersly, a teacher at All Saints Academy. “It is hard for our kids to understand that someone in our world today might not have any experience with video games at all, when so much of our children’s lives revolve around easy access to technology,” she said.
Each LUV course is a customized program that focuses on each schools specific needs and curricular to determine the best enrichment option. A global partner is selected together and LUV then focuses on training the schools’ teachers to use the program before fully integrating the course and its materials.
If you’re interested in offering a LUV course in your school, more information is as simple as a phone call or e-mail; a contact form is available here.