Alexandra has a breakthrough in the December 2014 workshop. Supported by Oracle Volunteer instructors Bill and Indira, she and her team created a home automation solution using a Raspberry Pi computer.
The Oracle Education Foundation (OEF) is a nonprofit organization funded by Oracle. Established in 2000, OEF began by providing hardware to US schools that lacked technology. From 2003 through 2013, OEF operated ThinkQuest, a global technology competition and collaborative educational platform. In 2014, OEF launched a new mission program that engages Oracle employees as volunteer instructors, coaching high school students through multiday projects at the intersection of science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM).
To learn more, visit the Oracle Education Foundation website.
All OEF projects combine skill building with design challenges. Students learn coding and electrical engineering, and then apply these skills to problem solving. The problem-solving approach is Design Thinking, which promotes empathy with the user, creativity in generating solutions, the value of failure as necessary to learning and innovation, and rationality in fitting solutions to the context of the problem.
Many projects are designed to demystify the basic science underlying today's technologies and tomorrow's innovations. They use open hardware, such as Raspberry Pi computers, to introduce students to the most fundamental building blocks of engineering and show that technology is not magic—it’s accessible science that students can learn and use to author amazing, previously unimagined solutions.
While inclusive, OEF's program pays particular attention to girls and other populations historically under-represented in STEAM careers.
The Oracle Education Foundation is proud to partner with Design Tech High School (d.tech), which is participating in the pilot implementation of the new OEF program. Two principles guide the d.tech model: extreme personalization and putting knowledge into action. The school holds every student to the same high standards, but allows each student to move at his or her own pace to achieve those standards. Additionally, d.tech teaches students to solve real-world problems using a Design Thinking approach similar to that taught at Stanford University’s Hasso Plattner Institute of Design (d.school). Together, these two approaches provide students with a problem-solving model they can use throughout their lives to make positive contributions to a constantly changing world.
OEF projects are part of d.tech's intersession program, a two-week period four times a year when students break from regular coursework to take electives on topics that inspire them. OEF projects have become part of an elective series focused on technology, making, and problem-solving at the intersection of STEAM disciplines.
In 2014, OEF piloted its new mission program. Over the course of three two-week projects, Oracle Volunteer instructors coached 69 students from Design Tech High School in the fundamentals of coding and circuitry using Raspberry Pi computers, breadboards, LEDs, and a variety of basic electrical components.
“The collaboration between d.tech students and Oracle Volunteers was fun and rewarding. The students learned how to program in Java using a Raspberry Pi computer, and applied those skills to create practical solutions to real-world problems. Thank you, Oracle Education Foundation, for providing me with the opportunity to serve as a role model for the students, and encourage them to explore careers in STEAM.”
“Volunteering for the Oracle Education Foundation was a truly unforgettable experience. Although my knowledge of the curriculum was limited, I learned along with the kids and was able to contribute my skills in electronics. I also learned the immense value of Design Thinking, an approach that I now apply to projects both at work and at home. The most rewarding aspect was witnessing the students’ excitement at the final showcase, and knowing that, thanks to OEF and Oracle, I had a part to play.”
“I’ve had a great experience volunteering for the Oracle Education Foundation. The energy and creativity the students brought to our workshop was very inspiring, and I feel fortunate to be part of the program.”
“My key takeaway from this experience is that the volunteers, educators, and students are all winners. The students develop valuable insights and apply critical-thinking and collaboration to solve real-world problems. The volunteers and educators love the students’ “Ah-ha!” moments, when the concepts we cover throughout the course suddenly make sense.”