American Journal of Educational Research
ISSN (Print): 2327-6126 ISSN (Online): 2327-6150 Website: http://www.sciepub.com/journal/education Editor-in-chief: Ratko Pavlović
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American Journal of Educational Research. 2015, 3(11), 1402-1410
DOI: 10.12691/education-3-11-9
Open AccessArticle

The S-Lab’s Lab in a Box: A Potential Game Changer for Rural Schools in the Developing World

Stephen Mecca1, , Megan Skrypek2, Elizabeth Degaray3, Brittany Mandeville3, Nicole Boyd3, Michelle Feely3, Jack Ricci3, Delina Auciello3 and Kerry McIntyr3

1Department of Engineering-Physics-Systems, Providence College, Providence, RI, USA

2Department of Computer Engineering, Columbia University, New York, NY, USA

3S-Lab, Department of Engineering-Physics-Systems, Department, Providence College, Providence, RI, USA

Pub. Date: November 03, 2015

Cite this paper:
Stephen Mecca, Megan Skrypek, Elizabeth Degaray, Brittany Mandeville, Nicole Boyd, Michelle Feely, Jack Ricci, Delina Auciello and Kerry McIntyr. The S-Lab’s Lab in a Box: A Potential Game Changer for Rural Schools in the Developing World. American Journal of Educational Research. 2015; 3(11):1402-1410. doi: 10.12691/education-3-11-9

Abstract

The S-Lab’s Lab-in-a-Box features a computer lab hosting a rich set of educational resources (the GSAP Portal) for internet- and electricity deprived- schools. The first version of the portal prototyped in Ghana includes the Rachel initiative on a 32 GB file set. The portal has been expanded to a 64 GB drive hosted on a Raspberry Pi server, on a local dedicated file server or directly on a PC or Laptop and its elements have been mapped to the Ghana school curriculum. The original powering option which consisted of solar collector and lead-acid battery was re-designed to eliminate the 12v-to-5v conversion making use of LiPo battery packs with significant improvements in energy, costs, weight and size. The system was also extended to bring science activities to the schools using available (Android) tablet sensors and instrument- analysis- reference- simulation- APPs plus a few inexpensive instruments and components. Eighty-two schools, the most recent of the 158 recipient schools, were reviewed; seventy-two of these had connection to the grid and 4 of the remaining 10 were provided with the solar powered Lab-in-a-Box . Several challenges were encountered ranging from equipment theft (1 school) and interveners replacing the computer OS resulting in erasure of the drive (several schools) to staff turnover. The latter is the biggest challenge as staff trained on the systems are replaced every two years at most schools; several schools failed to train replacements. Dramatic results were realized in one district, Birim North, which moved from the lowest performing school in the region and 117th in the country prior to the intervention to 1st in the region and 17th in the country over two years following the intervention. The results demonstrate the need for commitments of the district as well as the individual schools.

Keywords:
rural education low power it lab low power science lab

Creative CommonsThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

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