PEBL: Fun Space For Learning
Dec. 15, 2022
On November 12, 2022, five schools in Parsa came together for the first-ever Playful Engineering-Based Learning (PEBL) exhibition. The next day, November 13, 2022, eight other schools in Dang gathered for the same purpose. PEBL has been an ongoing learning program for Teach For Nepal (TFN) since January 2022 in collaboration with Tufts University in two districts of Nepal, Dang and Parsa. This exhibition allowed the participation of as many as 147 students working in different teams to share, learn and grow together.
PEBL is a grant funded by LEGO Foundation awarded to Tufts. Designed to be the initiator in bridging the gap between the students' learning post-Covid, the learning program is designed to enhance team-based, hands-on playful engineering learning activities grounded in the local community's assets and priorities.
LEGO Foundation's learning through Play (LTP) framework and assessment recognize that learning goes beyond memorizing academic content and includes physical, social, emotional, cognitive and creative skills. "Engineering is an important skill that encourages students to put theoretical knowledge into practice," said Milan Dahal, pursuing a doctorate in mechanical engineering at Tufts University. "PEBL exhibition hopefully provided an opportunity for the students to showcase their problem-solving and creativity skills. We hope they got to meet and interact with students from other schools," he added.
For the PEBL exhibition, with the students' agreement, a particular theme was decided in advance. The program was designed to allow students to explore different materials and use them to solve small challenges while enhancing their problem-solving, teamwork, and communication skills. Most students had opted to focus on SDG goals like Clean Water and Sanitation, Sustainable Cities and Communities, and Climate Action.
Students were provided with materials like basic electronics, tools, art, and craft on the event day. The students had to observe the materials prior to their planning to bring ease to their project-building process. The students were also encouraged to walk through the stalls of other students to recognize and solve any challenges and thereafter teach each other.
"I am interested in how well students develop 21st-century skills– critical thinking, collaboration, communication, and creativity–skills that contribute to students' long-term success no matter what field they choose to pursue after graduation," said Roshan Bhatta, the PEBL Fellow and maker space expert for Teach For Nepal, who has been working alongside Milan Dahal in collaboration to guide the PEBL programs.
The exhibition showcased the possibility of the highest learning among the students in collaboration, as scenarios of students walking around to ask their fellow participants about the electronics and tools they had never used before were visible among most team members. The judges guided and directed students when they faced problems in their projects. A few specific teams that had already solved the issue were also encouraged to share their experiences with the other students.
The exhibition successfully encouraged the participative students in their learning by having the presence of judges and viewers to recognize and appreciate their works and provide continual feedback. The exhibition event was able to attract around 600 visitors which included parents and students from within and outside the community. A consistent aspiration toward knowledge and skills in a student's life always opens a new door to learning and growth.