Highlight of things happened in Scratch Meet-up, Nairobi, Kenya

Originally posted at http://www.scratch2017bdx.org/nairobi/ by Alphonse Habyarimana

Almost two weeks ago, organized by Joek Van Montfort from the Netherlands who is doing amazing job in organizing Scratch conferences across Europe and is now stepping in helping Africans to be part of Scratch community, African Scratchers met in Nairobi, Kenya. There are a couple of reasons this meeting took place and some of which are to give Africa a strong voice in Scratch community, plan for Scratch Conference in Bordeaux and how Africa can be represented, share our best practices, and more importantly building African Scratch network and have fun. Here are top three things happened which you should know.

Series of presentations

Foondi Workshop: http://www.foondiworkshops.com/


Foondi Workshop of Juliet Wanyiri is a constructionist workshops to individuals that encourages maker movement in Kenya through a variety of topics, from Electronics, Internet of Things to 3D printing modeling in Kenya.

Mekatilili Programs: http://mekatililiprogram.strikingly.com/


Mekatilili Programs of Marian Muthui encourages women to be part of engineering fields and bridge the gap between girls and boys in engineering career.

She Codes for Change: http://shecodesforchange.org/


She Codes for Change is a Tanzanian based organization that encourages girls in STEM subjects more specifically to get them inspired, educated and equipped with computing skill.

WareFab: http://warefab.com/


WareFab of Mercy Ngoiri is a digital fabrication lab (I would say) that makes educational kits, 3D printing, and other digital technologies in Kenya. Mercy and team have and scratch-n-sketch which can help Scratch export their codes in this board and interact with physical objects.

Cod Cod Codet: www.codcodcodet.com, http://makermind.ma/


Started in Morocco and now expanding in Angola, Cod Cod Codet of Fleur-Eve Le Foll aims to promote innovation from early childhood through learning how to code and tinker with physical programming.

Kepler Tech Lab also being renamed I4Fab (Innovation for Fabrication): https://keplertechlab.wordpress.com/


Kepler Tech Lab is a social innovation center and engineering teaching laboratory introduce after-school engineering enrichment programs in electronics, computer programming, and Creative Capacity Building to students and local communities in Kigali, Rwanda

SugarLabs: https://www.sugarlabs.org/

Sam Goddy

SugarLabs represented by Samson Goddy makes a collection of tools that learners use to explore, discover, create, and reflect. It helps children create their own applications through computer programming. Need to learn more about SureLabs.

Easy coding: http://easycoding.tn/


Easy coding of Adel Kassah introduces and teaches students computational thinking, coding microcontroller using Adel’s own Arduino Blocs and other computer programming related subjects.


The host Max at United States International University, Nairobi, Kenya, talks about the most recent coding bootcamp at USIU.


Neema Gichaara talks about her work with South Korean sponsored

Variety of workshops

Makey Makey
Make-makey team

IoT (Internet of Things)

exploring littlebits

Swahili Version of Scratch

Swahili translator

To facilitate over 100,000,000 Swahili speakers be able to use Scratch easily, Scratch Nairobi meeting considered to translate Scratch in Swahili and it is available very soon


We had great convos with Mitchel Resnick and Kreg Hanning.  Mitch is the Professor at the MIT Media Lab, director of the team that develops, coordinates, and supports Scratch and Kreg is a Graduate Student and Research Assistant at MIT Media Lab. Kreg works with a team of developers on Scratch. They both shared with African community the historic background of Scratch and plans for a future version of Scratch (Stay hungry with improved features).

Plan for Bordeaux

Without a plan for Bordeaux, this meeting would not otherwise take place in Nairobi; maybe it would happen but with different purpose. After all activities, there was a room for opportunities to explore how Africans can better be represented in Bordeaux this July 2017. Whoever is going to make Scratch2017BDX should expect incredible presentations, posters, and or ignite talks from Africans.

Did I say movie night among highlights? 🙂

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Well done! After 5 weeks of scratch they are able to create 3D games.

We spend more than 5 weeks by studying how to make simple animations using scratch, but the way students are very interested made this class more innovative and creative. By two weeks all students was able to make different animations including sprites or characters voice and also the background music. It is not only animation making but also they learnt how to make a public presentation, because we encourage them to work in groups so that they had time to present that small projects.

At this time, we have introduced a new lesson to them for how they should make a blocks which will be interacted to the user. As an example you should ask user to press any key to the keyboard then pre-defined event immediately happen.


This is Danny, he’s trying to make a simple project using scratch after
finishing our 5 weeks of teaching this class i had an interview with Danny.
How did you see our class of scratch?

He said that, the class was very fantastic and their have got more skills of using
scratch and he is encouraged everyone who doesn’t have some skills of making
a simple Animations to come at Kepler Tech lab .

Also Danny wants to continue this class outside of Kepler tech lab, so that he will be able train his classmates how their make a simple animation by using scratch .

Lastly, Danny has a remarks for the young people which says that ‘ youth must work hard and have a respect in every activities they are doing.

Celestin as class facilitator, I wish you to continue working hard and have more innovation when you are creating a script animations . Good luck Danny.

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How Do you Get Young Students Used to New Concepts?

img_8949Kepler Tech Lab and its middle high school students who take after-school engineering classes and workshops have had epic November and December of 2016! Wow, I cannot imagine it’s been two months teaching young students! It was an extraordinary experience to get young students with zero knowledge about engineering and tinkering things get started with experimenting and testing what technologies have to offer. Last two months of 2016, we enrolled and taught middle high school students for the first time and it was amazing to see how they were excited to build their own things, play around with Arduino kits, and try out the concepts of electricity using Squishy Circuits. From this experience of exposing innate innovators, I’d say, who cannot otherwise get a chance and an access to technologies without Kepler Tech Lab at the moment, I gained a better understanding of interactive learning and what it means for educators.

As defined by an instructor, Lindy Hatten, of the study.com, “interactive learning is a hands-on approach to help students become more engaged and retain more material.” Lindy added that “with or without a form of technology, interactive learning helps students strengthen [problem-solving] and critical thinking skills.”

Let’s get back to the topic; how do you get students acquaint themselves with new concepts? To share my experience, the rest of the article is about how no technological students have been experiencing Scratch, the MIT Media Lab programming language that allows individuals, mostly young students, create and tinker with stories, games, and animations, not forgetting physical computing. The week of 9 Jan 2017, we introduced Scratch to our students and we have had wonders if learners with little to no knowledge about using computers for programming or anything else can do something.


Sample game of guessing numbers to show to students

I’d say, we were late to start because Scratch requires only critical thinking and then drag as you drop graphics without typing anything, except if the story contains written messages. As always, our students are interested in doing many things at once trying to catch up with what they have missed during their early ages. The lab staff, we only need to regulate what they have to learn, how much they can support, and what are our goals for them to get the most out of our concepts.

How we got started? Firstly, we realized that we cannot wait until our students are fluent in using computers. We helped them to navigate through Graphic User Interface of Scratch to get them understand how to pick a sprite, customize the sprite, change its style, make it move, add a message and add sound, just to list a few. Isn’t it enough for beginners? We use to have three sessions in a week with these young students and that was for day one. On day two, after understanding what they can do with Scratch, I gave them a homework about writing stories of their choice so that they can start day 3 with funny activities of making stories in a scratch. See what they have written and worked on day three. Do not try to read the first one from the right, except if you can understand Kinyarwanda. To provide you with a hint, it’s a love story of which a girl passed a long time with no see her lover and decided to let him go. A guy, in turn, visited a girl and started to sing for her. It’s a long story. I would love to share a full story once students are done with animating.


Students’ written stories in brief.


What they started to make out of their stories using Scratch

The day three was about turning their written stories into animations using Scratch, still ongoing! The activity was not only about teaching them how to make animations but also to present to the whole class what they have made so that they can be able to develop technical communications.


We still have a lot to do with Scratch and students’ smiling faces are promising that they are enjoying and learning a lot with Kepler Tech Lab.

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Fundraiser: Aspiring Engineers in Rwanda

Last year, I got to meet and work with an incredible team of students in Rwanda to pilot a low-cost engineering lab. Now, one of the students from the team, Alphonse, has taken the initiative to make version 2.0 of the lab, which focuses on providing physical and human resources for youth to solve technical problems in their communities.

He is looking for seed funding to cover start-up materials costs. My birthday wish is that you consider making a small donation to help Alphonse and the Kepler Tech Lab team to reach their goal.

Please read more about the details of the fundraiser from Alphonse below.

Thank you in advance for making dreams a reality for aspiring engineers in Rwanda!

Click here to donate

What are the overall goals of Kepler Tech Lab and why do you think these goals are important to achieve?

The overall goals of Kepler Tech Lab are, but not limited to: providing young students with engineering skills which could enable them to work of different technical projects, providing youth with tools and space to create solutions based on community needs, alleviating mismatch of technical skills through educating future generations, and engaging community members in making different prototypes based on Human-Centered Design, co-creation, Creative Capacity Building.  These goals are important because youth unemployment rate in Rwanda increases day-to-day regardless the fact that they went to schools; employers do not find qualified employees with technical skills they are looking for and the needs most of community members depend in importing products to satisfy them. We believe that if we can educate young students and engage youth and community members in making we can encourage production of locally produced products in Rwanda.

What is the current state of the project? What sorts of background research or testing have you already done?

Over a year, since August 2015, we have provided engineering skills through different courses (electronics, energy, electrochemistry, and programing for data analysis) to about 76 students. We have been testing viability of the project, Kepler Tech Lab, to students from different levels of education (university and high school levels). For students who successfully finished preferred modules were able to brainstorm and work on different projects based on skills they have gain in the lab or outside of the lab, not forgetting community needs. We were able to work on and develop different projects, such as automated irrigation system, bird-scaring shaker for rice fields, and paper recycling and waterproofing, just to list a few.

Why should people donate to you and what will you use the fundraised money for ?

Since we are developing the lab with an intent to make it a makerspace for individuals to be provided with resources and tools to help them make prototypes for their business ideas, we rely on donations because we believe that donations we can get can contribute a lot to the impact Kepler Tech Lab seeks to bring in Rwanda’s society. This is being said that, if provided with funds, the money would be primarily spent on purchasing materials and equipment which can help us provide high schools students with engineering skills and engage community members in making.  The below table is the budget for $1,000 and how they would be used.

Description of activity/ task Item Cost in $ (per unit) Number of Units Total Cost in $  
Basic lab tools Safety goggles $6 30 $180
Lightweight balances $10 4 $40
Screwdriver set $55 1 $55
Office Supplies Markers (boxes) $10 2 $20
Chart papers $6 4 $26
Lab notebooks $3 25 $75
Woodworking and power tools Power Drill $78 2 $156
Hole saw set $66 2 $120
Drill bit set $45 2 $90
measuring tapes $5 4 $20
Electronic tools Powered breadboard $20 5 $100
Hot glue gun $40 3 $120
Total cost $1000

About the team

The laboratory is led by Alphonse Habyarimana who is manager and developer. Alphonse has skills in teaching, facilitating, management, and project development. It’s been a year managing this laboratory and he developed different projects including an automatic irrigation system and he helped students to work on their projects. Sylvain is a course facilitator at Kepler Kigali and he is an instructor at Kepler Tech Lab working part-time. Sylvain has experience in assisting and mentoring students as well as project development and research skills. Lastly, Celestin who is an intern is a computer scientist and electronics engineer.

P.S. We are currently building our team and we are hoping to have more people with variety of skills in different fields.

Where can people go to get more information about Kepler Tech Lab?

For more information about Kepler Tech Lab, people can visit our weblog: www.keplertechlab.wordpress.com and/or reach out to us via email: labstaff@kepler.org

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What’s Happening this November 2016 and Beyond at Kepler Tech Lab?

It’s been few months planning for public classes – classes designed for students outside of Kepler Kigali – and public outreaches.

Public Class for Electronics Recycling

Starting November 7, 2016, the first class during the academic year 2016-17 is starting! We have enrolled 19 students from different schools and are going to take engineering lab during a gap year before they pursue tertiary education. During engineering lab, students are being exposed to different courses such as programming for data analysis, electronics, and independent projects.

Congratulations to the following students who made it into engineering lab. The students are going to spend 14 weeks taking this class and perform different experiments and projects. We cannot wait to see what they will be able to produce at the end of the class:

No First Name Last Name
1 Bakundukize Jean D’Amour
2 Berwa Nsabimana Irene
3 Bienvenu Benda Victoire
4 Bitangaro Innocent
5 Cyuzuzo Honore
6 Gakwerere Ingabire Marie Jasmine
7 Habumugisha Felix
8 Ingabire Sandrine
9 Iradukunda Felix
10 Ishimwe Zachee
11 Keza Wandela Winnie
12 Mugisha Sciella
13 Mutabazi Jean Luc
14 Mutuyimana Pacifique
15 Nishimwe Gad
16 Niyongabo Christophe
17 Rukomeza Emmanuel
18 Sibomana Benoit
19 Tuyisenge Kaberuka

From the list above, it has come to my attention that Winnie, Jasmine, and Irene have national exams very soon. All the best of luck to Winnie, Jasmine, and Irene, not forgetting those who are going to do exams for high school level.

Workshops with 8th Graders

During the first week of October 2016, Sylvain and I conducted pre-assessment at Groupe Scolaire Kimironko 1 with about 140 8th graders to test their level of understanding so that we can develop course materials for them. We assessed them and selected 24 students to begin with. They are going to be offered STEM during the break within 5 hrs each Saturday. Congratulation to the following 8th graders.

No First Name Last Name Class
1 Ackim Nyirimanzi Rutagarama S2C
2 Andrée Irakozee S2B
3 Celine Dion Uwicyeza S2A
4 Chanceline Pendeza S2B
5 Clementine Tina Byiringiro S2B
6 Danny Ibyimanishaka S2B
7 Delphine Uwajeneza S2C
8 Delphine Muhawenimana S2A
9 Divine Iradukunda S2B
10 Edson Rafiki Twizeyimana S2C
11 Eloise Kenny Niwemutoni S2B
12 Felix Niyongabo S2C
13 Ignace Shema Ishimwe S2C
14 Jean Reponse Niyonkuru S2B
15 Mukundwa Anita Ingabire S2A
16 Nadia Umwali S2C
17 Owen Ngabo S2C
18 Prince Ruberwa S2B
19 Promesse Dushime S2A
20 Regis Dushimimana S2B
21 Rodrigues Habimana S2B
22 Sandrine Umuhoza S2B
23 Vanessa Ishimwe S2A
24 Zizou Rambert Cyuzuzo S2A

Let educate future makers and innovators!!!!

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Alphonse Is a Stanford Fablearn Fellow!

How is it possible to keep such gorgeous news unpublished for about two months? By the time I wrote this blog post, I tried to find the reason to why I didn’t release such good news in advance. Oops, I don’t have any reason in mind! Wait-wait, I get one! Over the past two months, I was digesting and ruminating what it means to be selected among 20 fellows out of 200 applicants from 30 different countries. I couldn’t still understand this not because I didn’t believe it but because it’s unbelievable to represent my continent, Africa, this year together with another fellow, Koffi Dodji Honou, from Senegal.


FabLearn Fellow, Cohort 2016-2017

What is FabLearn?

Led by Stanford University Assistant Professor, Paulo Blikstein, “FabLearn [is a fellowship program at Sandford University that] disseminates ideas, best practices and resources to support an international community of educators, researchers and policy makers committed to integrating the principles of educational makerspaces and constructionist learning into formal and informal K-12 education.”

The decisions about selected fellows were announced in the month of September 2016, close to the annual conference of FabLearn. Fellows have been invited to attend a diversity in making themed conference which held at Stanford University for three days, from October 14-16, 2016. Traveling to the U.S. was an experience I have ever had. I learned a lot from researchers, educators, makers, and policymakers. Prior to the conference, I participated in the 2-day workshops on Designing Making Experience at Castilleja School, Palo Alto.


Designing Making Experiences led by Aaron Vanderwerff  from Lighthouse Community Charter School, Oakland, and Angi Chau from Castilleja School, Palo Alto, both in California, USA.

The conference was inaugurated on Friday, October 14, 2014, with keynote by Leah Buechley who is the developer of the LilyPad Arduino toolkit.


I met great minded people and learned from them the reason why I have to join maker movement.  Many thanks to FabLearn organizers who made it possible for fellows to join the annual conference of FabLearn. During the conference, I met family members from International Development Innovation Network (IDIN ). What’s fantastic #IDINetwork!


The picture above reveals that FabLearn made it possible for folks from IDINetwork to meet. Left to the right drawing zig zag line from front to the back is Mustafa Naseem, Molly Rubenstein, Alphonse Habyarimana, Koffi Dodji Honou, Arvind Badrinarayanan, Pedro Reynolds-Cuellar, Deborah Tien, Johana Sanabria, Umar Shehzad , Aggrey Mokaya, and Manon Woringer who is an Electronics Fellow at the IDIN-supported Twende Innovation Center in Arusha, Tanzania.

Nobody can believe how it would be possible to be part of two incredible international organizations in only less than three months.

Hang in there for more updates to come:)

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Excited to Be Part of an International Development Innovation Network

I am laughing at myself how I am reflecting back in over three months ago. It’s “haha” moment only how I traveled all the way from Kigali, Rwanda, to Lutisi – a village location in 37km away from Kampala, Uganda in Wakiso district – to meet with designers from all walk of life for an International Development Design Summit Cookstoves. About three weeks in Uganda, I learned a lot from different people, participants and organizers of the summit as well host, Amen and his team from Kulika Uganda.


Group photo with the U.SAmbassador in Uganda, Deborah R. Malac in a blue T-shirt. Second from left is Alphonse in a dark blue and red lines Lacoste.

Lesson Learned During the Summit

The lesson I learned is simple! “Work with communities while developing solution(s) for them.” It can be the case that you work towards achieving certain goals and feel like you have all you wanted to the level you can press pause and relax. No way! Stop it! You are deteriorating your ability to go far. At the IDDS Cookstoves, we worked as a team while developing different kinds of stoves based on user-centered designs and community needs. My team Kamunye or team eagle, in other words, worked on a stove with its durability, affordability, and usability. Without user feedback, we couldn’t have designed and built the stove we wanted. We went through multiple design processes and interviews with community members until we developed a stove of our dream.


Our design journey was marked with three aspects: quantifying the user needs, prioritizing design requirements, and designing a sketch/ideal model.

User Need Measurement Unit Maximum Minimum
Saves fuel Mass of fuel used Kg 65% reduction relative to TSF 30% reduction relative to TSF
Emits less smoke PM Concentrations mg/m3 70% reduction relative to TSF 50% reduction relative to TSF
Affordability Cost UGX 100,000 UGX 30,000 UGX

Characteristics of the stove built

What Happens Before, During, and After the Summit?

Amy Smith who is the founder and Co-Director of D-Lab gave a simple visual representation of what happens before, during, and after the summit by the design process of the summit.


Before the IDDS, problems are framed and solutions are created; during the summit, participants work collaboratively to developing products. Then and after the summit, they go back to their communities with the spirit of developing products so they can go to scale.

After attending the IDDS, all participants are encouraged to go back to the communities and keep working on their projects they have worked on during the summit or work on different projects based on the concepts the summit. Surely, those concepts are Creative Capacity Building, Co-Creation, user needs, to list a few. Continuity of the projects can be done by participants of the IDDS, community members, universities, and other partners. Those partners can be innovation centers and makerspaces, Kepler Tech Lab included.

Members of the International Development Innovation Network (IDIN) are the ones who attended IDDS summits. That’s what happened to me! I was fortunate to join the IDIN and started to realize what I can do for my community. My worries were, and still are to be the only one in Rwanda who joined this big family of 800+ innovators, makers, researchers – oops, it’s a blended network I cannot mention all talented individuals out there – in which it is difficult to create Rwanda Chapter. I dreamed of being an educator and maker since my childhood and IDDS opened my eyes this year. I can see what have to be done for Rwanda’s community, education and making because Rwanda’s future generations deserve to live in a country with minimal dependency on foreign labor and importing products.

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