Innovating Hands-On STEM Education in India and Ghana

Jamie Gorson is a computer engineering student at Olin College of Engineering. She is a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow and National Merit Scholar. As a student at Radnor High School in Wayne, Pennsylvania, she took PLTW Engineering courses Introduction to Engineering Design (IED) and Principles of Engineering (POE).

Hi! My name is Jamie Gorson, and I'm a senior at Olin College of Engineering studying computer engineering with a concentration in innovative education. I was introduced to engineering through my high school’s PLTW courses. Since coming to college, I’ve become very interested in engineering education and how we can use technology to aid in hands-on learning.

In my time at Olin College, I have had the opportunity to make an impact in STEM education through various means. One of those is through a project in Affordable Design and Entrepreneurship, which is a course that builds teams from Olin Wellesley and Babson Colleges to solve real-world problems at affordable costs.

The goal of my team is to increase the education standard in India and Ghana through developing hands-on learning educational technologies and accompanying curriculum. My team is composed of engineering and business students, professors, and two partners, Agastya International Foundation and African Women Advocacy Project.

Currently, we are developing a ray projector, called the Brightbox, for teaching optics. The Brightbox gives students the ability to manipulate light through mirrors, lenses, and prisms and explore their properties. I have played a large role in designing the curriculum, which gives students the opportunity to learn through exploration. The students discover how light travels by experimenting with the Brightbox and accessories and completing puzzles.

I recently returned from a trip to India where I worked with manufacturers on the design of the ray projector and tested our device and curriculum in village classrooms. Agastya will incorporate our Brightbox into their Lab-In-A-Box program, which rotates hands-on science labs around schools in rural areas. Our goal is to supply Agastya with the first 500 Brightboxes to be incorporated into their programs.

I am graduating in May and will be going to Northwestern University for a Ph.D. in technology and social behavior, studying educational technologies. I can’t wait to continue to work on more projects like this one. 

PLTW’s blog is intended to serve as a forum for ideas and perspectives from across our network. The opinions expressed are those of this guest author.