Social media is an omnipresent force, permeating every aspect of our lives. Platforms like TikTok, Instagram and Youtube have become ingrained in our existence. Undeniably, social media wields immense power, capable of influencing countless individuals, and its presence is here to stay. However, its potential stretches far beyond mere sharing of personal pictures or amusing cat memes. It possesses the ability to educate and enlighten. The emergence of educational social media pages is on the rise, and we are privileged to have a peek behind this curtain through our interview with the creator of Hungry SciAnntist.
Hungry SciAnntist is a Youtube channel that creates simple experimental videos to explain science. It was founded by Ann Alvarez, a science teacher from the Philippines who is currently working in Thailand. Amidst the challenges of online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic, she encountered difficulties in finding optimal methods to effectively educate her students. In response, she embarked on creating her YouTube channel.
The name “Hungry SciAnntist” has a dual significance for Ann. Initially, she associated “hungry” with her love for food, as she enjoys cooking and thought about sharing that passion. However, she later realized that “hungry” could also symbolize a craving for knowledge and a passion for science. Thus, the name holds two meanings: being hungry for knowledge and being hungry for food. As for the term “scientist,” it represents one of Ann’s aspirations—to become a scientist. She simply decided to incorporate her name, Ann, into the word “scientist.”
Thus, resulting in “Hungry SciAnntist”.
It all started during the COVID-19 pandemic when her principal reached out to her during an online class to ask if Ann could provide experiments for students to do at home. At first, Ann had reservations and was uncertain about how she could carry out experiments while being at home herself, while the students were also in their respective homes. Thus, she decided to find videos created by other content creators on YouTube. She researched and sent emails to these creators, requesting permission to use their videos for her online classes. Some responded positively, while others declined. This led her to the realisation that relying on others’ videos wouldn’t be very helpful in the long run because she needed to create something specifically for my students, rather than relying solely on what she could find on the Internet.
In order to reduce the trouble of having to search for specific videos and then obtaining permission to use videos, Ann decided to create her own videos.
One of the advantages of creating her own videos was that she could use materials that were readily available to her students in Thailand. Her students often remarked, “Oh, we have those materials in the market. We can buy them, and some of them we already have at home.”
When using someone else’s video, usually from America or the UK, the materials and ingredients used in the experiments were often different from what was available to her students. This could potentially confuse them. Thus, Ann chose to utilize materials that were accessible here in Thailand. The students appreciated this approach as they were able to easily follow along her videos.
What inspires Ann to create her content? It’s really simply just to create videos for her students to watch at home so that they can follow the experiments.
In a physical classroom setting, teachers enjoy the advantage of direct interaction with students. They can observe them, and they can engage with teachers in real time. Questions can be raised and promptly answered. However, during online learning, some students are unable to attend classes, while others require the flexibility of reviewing lessons and videos at their convenience. In order to address the challenges of online teaching brought about by the recent pandemic, Ann had to adapt and utilise social media. Through this platform, students who cannot attend the live sessions can access the recorded videos later and independently conduct experiments at home.
Being less adept with technology, Ann faces challenges in effectively recording her videos. She admits that certain videos suffer from unclear pronunciation, causing her concern about their overall quality. She chuckled as she recalled her confusion when it came to monetizing her videos and expressed her uncertainty about the appropriate steps to take. Nevertheless, it is truly commendable that she has managed to navigate the realm of video editing and social media management without formal training in these areas.
An additional obstacle she encountered was the criticism on the videos she made. After a months of creating content, she discovered her videos were being viewed not just by her students, but also by individuals from various parts of the world. Initially, her primary goal was to create videos tailored to her students’ needs. Thus, since her students are not fluent English speakers, she intentionally speaks slowly to ensure they can comprehend the content. This draws many criticism in the comments section, with many questioning her slow speech and stating that it makes them feel sleepy.
However, Ann does not let these comments get to her and continues to make these videos with her students in mind.
In Ann’s words:
“I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to everyone who is both enjoying and benefiting from my content. Thank you for choosing to engage with my videos, and I assure you that I am committed to creating more. I am continually inspired to do so because I recognize the value of these videos in assisting you with your learning struggles. They serve as a valuable resource to support your knowledge and address any questions you may have regarding specific topics assigned by your teachers.
I will persist in producing additional videos not only for my students but for all those who find value and enjoyment in my content. I aim to cater to the needs of students who seek answers to their questions but may hesitate to directly ask their teachers. By creating more videos, I hope to provide them with the answers they seek and offer supplementary knowledge. Therefore, my commitment extends to all students who require video content to address their queries and expand their understanding.”
Recently, The Patatas has forged a recent collaboration with Hungry SciAnntist, integrating her material into our groundbreaking project, CaseStudy. Much like Ann, our shared conviction lies in ensuring that education is within reach for all students, with a particular emphasis on underrepresented Southeast Asian communities. As a social enterprise, we are resolute in our commitment to exploring inventive methods to make education accessible to communities that face obstacles such as limited power or internet connectivity.
In line with our vision to enact positive change through technology-driven solutions, we have successfully created CaseStudy, an innovative offline digital content management system. Our primary objective is to address the educational divide prevalent in rural communities by harnessing the power of technology.
CaseStudy serves as a pioneering tool, designed to bridge the gap and provide access to educational resources in areas where internet connectivity may be limited. This robust system empowers students and educators by offering a wide range of offline digital content, ensuring that knowledge and learning opportunities are not confined to urban settings alone. These content are pre-loaded and they include content from Khan Academy and the aforementioned Hungry SciAnntist!
CaseStudy initially emerged as a tablet-based learning solution in collaboration with Tiwala Kids & Communities, Inc. in Legazpi, Philippines. Over time, it has evolved into a comprehensive school-in-a-box solution that has proven highly effective in engaging students within rural schools and communities. Notably, participants in the CaseStudy program have consistently exhibited significantly better academic performance compared to their non-participating peers.
What sets CaseStudy apart is its all-inclusive nature, encompassing fundamental equipment such as projectors and digital materials. Moreover, it operates sustainably without relying on electricity through the integration of solar panels.
Addressing the logistical complexities associated with bringing educational technology to developing regions with limited infrastructure has been a key challenge. Consequently, CaseStudy has been meticulously designed as a cost-effective digital classroom, engineered to withstand inhospitable conditions. Housed within a single unit that is both waterproof and shockproof, educators can effortlessly transport and establish functional classrooms irrespective of challenging terrains.
CaseStudy also boasts cutting-edge technology, featuring high-quality software that caters to diverse teaching and learning requirements. It incorporates the Raspberry Pi, a device comparable to a computer’s CPU, and operates on the Linux operating system. CaseStudy offers educators a wide range of customization options. They can store essential lesson materials like PDFs and videos within the system. Additionally, CaseStudy seamlessly integrates with projectors, which are included as part of the system. This integration empowers teachers to enhance their lessons by incorporating audio-visual materials. As a result, student engagement and learning outcomes are significantly improved.
One of the distinctive features of CaseStudy lies in its customizability.
Educators have the flexibility to upload their own materials to the platform, customizing educational resources to match the local context and language of their students. They can also choose to incorporate open educational resources (OERs) such as Khan Academy and Wikipedia. These OERs provide a wide range of content, covering subjects from mathematics to literature.
By integrating OERs, CaseStudy enables young students in rural areas to engage in self-directed digital learning and research. They can explore various topics under the supervision of their teachers, ensuring a safe and controlled environment. This transformation turns CaseStudy into a valuable learning assistant, empowering students within rural communities.
Furthermore, CaseStudy stands as a sustainable solution, particularly for rural communities plagued by unreliable power supply. Its solar-powered functionality ensures full chargeability, rendering classrooms adaptable to diverse environments, ranging from traditional classrooms to remote jungle settings. The flexibility and versatility offered by CaseStudy in terms of resilience and adaptability make it a compelling choice for providing quality education.
CaseStudy is our tool to revolutionize education in rural communities. It enables students to engage with high-quality educational materials, interactive lessons, and multimedia resources. This technology-driven solution has the power to transform the learning experience and empower individuals with essential knowledge to thrive in today’s world.
With CaseStudy, we are actively working towards a future where every student, regardless of their location, can access educational resources and opportunities on par with their urban counterparts. Together, we are making strides towards a more equitable and inclusive educational landscape through the power of technology.