Students in Peru far under perform in reading, math, and science by comparison to their peers in 64 other countries, despite the country’s economic boom. “The situation for education in Peru is pretty dire,” said Eduardo Marisca SM ’14, commenting on the results from the most recent OECD Programme for International Student Assessment rankings.
That’s why he and several Comparative Media Studies/Writing MIT alumni started the Creative Technologies Prototyping Lab (CTPL), a three-day workshop held in Lima, Peru. In late May, CTPL brought together 80 participants from across Lima—designers, entrepreneurs, communicators, students, technologists, and educators—to work on interdisciplinary teams and prototype digital technological ideas for improving Peru’s educational system. A panel of MIT Club of Peru alumni judged the final ideas.
The country’s economic boom has allowed millions to move into the middle class and attend college for the first time. Yet, Marisca explained that students do not always know which career path to take. One team addressed this challenge by developing a phone app that serves as a library of career success stories from professionals across Latin America. The team envisions the app acting as a virtual mentor by educating students about careers they might not be exposed to in their own social circles.
Another team developed a maker culture toolkit for teachers to include in classroom lessons. The kit could provide rural and urban teachers with lessons and activities for kids to build projects. As part of the kit, the team thought up a lego-like interface that could teach basic programming.
The event served as a venue for people in different industries to collaborate and potentially team up in the future. “The entrepreneurial ecosystem is very narrow, very closed off,” said Marisca of Peru. “This was an effective way to get new blood into the environment and new air in the room.”
“MIT has such a strong culture of building things and making things happen,” said Marisca. “What we’re really trying to do is take that cultural spirit and apply it to a big thing like education.”
This year’s workshop was the second annual event of the larger Creative Industries Prototyping Lab. The 2014 workshop convened 40 professionals and focused more broadly on integrating technology into cultural institutions and arts and research organizations. The lab also serves as an ongoing support system for teams that decide to turn their ideas into businesses.
Visit CTPL’s website to see how you can get involved. Listen to an MIT CMS/W podcast with Marisca about CTPL.