Design for a Billion 2018

The Marble Jar 

Members: Ruben Cruz Valladares, Kuldeep Gohel, Sophia Torres-Ulrich, Rae Powers, Nyantee Asherman, Jin Liu, Danielle Sobel, Jungu Guo, & Ariadne Shehas 


Marble Jar Introduces task based activities that encourage community-building, self- discipline/respect, and curiosity into curriculums of low-resource public schools around India.

The Task

The task was to implement a design into the local village school near IIT that could be scalable and implemented in other schools around the country. Based on past projects done in India's education system like Hole In a Wall, Pratham, and the Creative Learning Initiative, we new that whatever we designed needed a few key things to be viable:

  • It had to rely on low resources and almost no outside resources
  • Children would have to be self-motivated to participate
  • It would be more successful if it took into consideration the existing system.
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In order to get a larger view

of the system we were stepping into, we did a few observations at the school, paying special attention to classroom behavior and materials, teachers role and responsibilities, present technologies, and how the kids play. We spent time learning games from the kids and teaching our games to get a sense of how they interact with each other at the school and what activities were familiar to them.

We also interviewed local experts in the field of Indian education such as IIT Professors Soumya, Shraddha, and Shiva and professors from NID as well. 

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main observations

From research, observation, and interviews we gathered key points:


1) Kids often learn through rote learning which in some cases stifles creativity and critical thinking

2) Indian government schools (like American public schools), lack resources especially in the department of teachers. Because teachers have so many responsibilities outside of the classroom, they may often absent from class. Also India's well-trained teachers often don't want to work in isolated, rural schools for long. Therefore whatever we build should be mostly run by the children and require few outside resources.

3) The kids desire exposure to outside information and culture. The kids already had a system in place where they would bring in and share local news but were eager to actually leave the village on field trips. 

4) The classrooms were often multigenerational have a range in ages. Therefore, older students were given leadership opportunities and would be held responsible for younger students which they relished in. 


The Final Proposal

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In the end, we decided to create a system that connected many of the activities the children were already doing to the desired outcomes by incentivizing them. Often, with at least a few of the classes, teachers had had students collect newspaper stories, stories from their elders, or small recyclables and bring them to school. So why not create a system in which the kids were rewarded for these activities that strengthened a sense of community, self-confidence/respect, and good leadership behavior.

With the Marble Jar, we marry the American classroom concept where teachers put a marble in a jar for every good deed that is done with tasks the students were already doing. On our last visit to the school, we asked students to collect newspaper stories or recyclables from around their homes and on the paths to school. We told them that if they were able to fill up the box as a class, they would get a "free dress day", a day when they don't have to wear uniforms. However in the future, we plan to have different classrooms compete against one another for a physical or virtual field trip to increase motivation. In Palaj village, because of its proximity to IIT, it may be possible for the students to visit the university. But for other government schools, we may be able to implement a Skype or video call to someone living in another country instead as a low resource alternative. 



See Final Results in Video...