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IAP 2015
Chrystal Chern ’16 and Nikita Kodali ’17 were awarded PSC Expedition Grants over IAP 2015 thanks to student giving and votes! Learn more about their amazing projects and what they achieved in just one month below.
Chrystal Chern ’16
Malawi: Education, Wildlife, and Resource Protection
Over IAP 2015, Chrystal Chern visited Ulongwe, a small town in the Balaka district of Malawi, on Behalf of MIT Engineers Without Borders (EWB). Chrystal’s journey began in Liwonde National Park, and included many surrounding communities, where she tested bricks, gathered soil samples, measured streamflow, conducted topography measurements and researched historical hydrology. Chrystal’s data collection and research will help EWB design bridges to make the rhino sanctuary at Liwonde National Park more accessible to wildlife protection workers. The construction of bridges will allow the workers to navigate their way through the park during the rainy season and lessen poaching occurrences. During her time in Malawi, Chrystal also continued the work of her predecessors by working to improve science education in Ulongwe’s Namalomba Community Secondary School. She led interactive science and engineering activities focused on providing the students with skills that apply to their everyday lives. Activities included: launching bottle rockets and creating LED flashlights. Chrystal’s work in Ulongwe is part of an on-going partnership. Throughout her expedition, Chrystal enjoyed learning about the Malawian way of life, she met and developed relationships with amazing people, and most of all, positively changed the lives of others.
Nikita Kodali ’17
Technical Education at Government Schools for Indian Students by Indian Students
Supported by an Expedition Grant, Nikita traveled over IAP 2015 to Chennai, India to establish a teaching program where undergraduates from the Indian Institute of Technology at Madras (IITM) would serve as teachers and mentors to students at local underfunded government schools. With the help of a few fellow MIT students, Nikita reviewed 136 applications, interviewed 67 candidates and selected 11 students from IITM to serve as teachers and mentors. Nikita and her team of undergraduates researched and assessed the needs of local government schools and selected Olcott Memorial School as the location to implement the teaching program. Nikita worked with Professor Nagarajan at IITM to develop a supplemental curriculum for the mentors to teach students, in grades 1st through 10th, for six or more hours a week. Some of the mentors helped Olcott students prepare for their public exams, referred to as “board exams”, by focusing on subjects such as trigonometry. Nikita’s project aims to provide Indian students with the opportunity to put concepts into practice, employ problem solving skills and enjoy learning.
Since October 2006, the UGC has raised funding for PSC Expedition Grants to send MIT students around the world to implement their service projects. Past projects have ranged from an AIDS Awareness campaign in China to designing highly visible back-packs for school children in Ghana to avoid traffic injuries. Check out more of the 60 Expedition Grant projects the UGC has funded since 2006 by browsing the galleries below.