Maseno Maths Camp Prep Week: Computer World

Oh, what a crazy week!  So much we’ve done, so much to do.

Technology has been very up and down.  On Tuesday I was banging my head against Windows (always a favorite activity) trying to get software for the camp installed.  We’re using maybe six pieces of educational math software, in a lab with about 40 computers.  About half the machines were playing nice, and half were refusing to take certain parts of the software group.  So on Wednesday, I learned to use an awesome utility called CloneZilla: it allows you to clone one computer onto another, which is perfect in a lab situation where all of the computer hardware is the same.  It’s basically a linux distro that lives on a usb key; it takes an image of the computer (in our case, a mostly fresh windows install + math software, this image was about 4.5gb) on another usb key.  We can then replicate the image on another machine; the clone takes about 10-12 minutes to install.  This is a LOT faster than reinstalling windows and all of the math software on the uncooperative machines!  It also means that if any of the machines get borked over the course of the week that it will be an easy process to reset them to a sane state.

Today I’m back to banging my head, though.  We’re wanting to set up an online journal system for the students.  The plan is to have them write in a paper journal, then we’ll photograph the entries and upload them to a WordPress blog (like this one).  So my plan is to name the image files according to some system (student name + journal entry number, or something along these lines) then write a python script that will take the photos and automatically post them to the WordPress site, with some identifying information.  The python+wordpress schema seems to not be playing nice, though (wordpress is giving a 301 error to my attempts at an automatic post), so I’m a bit befuddled…

On the other other hand, we were up til about two am last night doing lesson planning for the camp.  We’ve got some solid lessons+activities planned for three of our five ‘units,’ in particular on codebreaking, programming, and a section we’re calling ‘research,’ which I’ll almost certainly write about later….

There’s still a massive amount of work to be done by Sunday.  We’re heading to Kiboko Bay in Kisumu tonight, which will be a nice setting for work.  And now my lunch is here, so I’ll be off!


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