Founded in 2016, Karkhana Samuha is a non-profit organization in Nepal that provides STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) kits to young people through schools and families. With the Playful Engineering-Based Learning grant from the LEGO Foundation, Karkhana distributed 1880 STEAM kits and trained 54 teachers to facilitate STEAM activities for over 3,000 students in just 18 months.
The team at Karkhana Samuha piloted their kits in five schools with six teachers. The goal of the pilot testing was to work with teachers and students to get feedback to iterate and improve on the kits. The six teachers were provided kits and curricula to implement the activities. Karahana Samuha is committed to providing low-cost resources that work for busy educators. Packaged in eco-friendly paper bags, each kit contains the exact materials for a team of students to execute the activity. The activities include a hoop glider made of paper and straws, a simple car powered by a balloon, a circuit activity with LED lights, and a robot that scribbles.
Many teachers in Nepal are new to project-based teaching. To support them, Karkhana Samuha created a 45-hour PEBL certification course that included hands-on activities and best practices for teaching. The 48 educators who enrolled in the course received PEBL Toolkits for their classrooms. They met regularly to share and discuss their experiences implementing the PEBL lessons. Teachers reported that they found the support of the community so beneficial that Karkhana created TeaCoP (Teaching Community of Play), a self-sustaining community group that continues to meet regularly.
Karkhana Samuha manufactured and distributed 1,800 PEBL Toolkits. They then expanded their reach even further by launching a digital version of the toolkit on their website. The free resource includes both English and Nepali guides for teachers and parents, student-facing instructions, and how-to videos.
In partnership with the local government, Karkhana Samuha established Maker Clubs and makerspaces in five public schools. The PEBL Toolkits serve as an excellent introduction to making for both teachers and students, but makerspaces can take playful learning to the next level and promote student creativity. The Maker Clubs garnered widespread popularity, and Karkhana Samuha organized a showcase for students to present their projects across schools.
Karkhana Samuha organized several other events, including a sizeable virtual educator conference that hosted people from six different countries. The project concluded with a closing ceremony that showcased student and teacher work. Educators walked away not only with certificates but also with a profound transformation in their approach to teaching.