Spring Program

May 16 - June 10, 2016

During Project Empathy's Spring Program, we will be taking what we have learned during our pilot at GEMS World Academy Chicago, which began on February 1, 2016, and offering it to any interested classroom as a school project to complete during the final weeks of the school year.

Supported by:


We are very grateful to J&J Group, which is providing complimentary Project Empathy kits to select participants. Learn more below.

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Program Overview

Project Empathy will be leading a multi-week curriculum where students will connect with their peers in other countries, assemble a digital library using Raspberry Pi, and send it to a classroom without Internet access.

The curriculum is designed to last four weeks with between 1-2 hours of classroom time required each week, though this can be tailored. The Project Empathy pilot took place in a 7th grade classroom with 15 students but the Spring Program is open to any K-12 classroom or after school program. At the beginning of each week, Project Empathy will host a Google Hangout to present that week's material and respond to questions.

At the conclusion of the Spring Program, Project Empathy will install the kits assembled by students in various schools in South Africa and possibly Malawi and Uganda (depending on how many classrooms participate).


What Students Will Learn

Project Empathy is a unique blend of technology, humanities, leadership, and service. Beyond this program, there are also opportunities for students to stay involved in Project Empathy work, including a forthcoming Youth Advisory Board to Project Empathy overall.

  • Introduction to Raspberry Pi and computing hardware.
  • Understanding of global access to Internet, including censorship and other barriers to connectivity.
  • Satellite broadcasting basics.
  • How to act like an editor and select content on behalf of a defined audience.
  • How to send files using from space using satellite datacasting.
  • Cultural and social conditions of the recipient country where students will be sending their Raspberry Pi libraries.
  • Patience in working cross-culturally and with a constrained communication medium.
  • Empathy and a framework for questioning assumptions about the world around them and what universal traits make us human.

Curriculum Overview

This curriculum is meant to serve as a guide and can be molded and adapted at a teacher's discretion. If you want to do everything in one week, supplement other material, or otherwise amend any aspect of this curriculum, we encourage you to do so! And we hope you will share the results with us.

Interested teachers should participate with the understanding that Project Empathy is still in its early stages and still being actively developed. Therefore, we hope that you will be active in helping us shape this project so that more classrooms around the world can participate in the future.

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What Makes Us Human?

Module One | Week of May 16

In this introductory week, students will face the reality of global information access, namely that 4.2 billion people cannot access the Internet. They will also read about traits that are universal to humans around the world, regardless of economic status. This will help create an editorial mindset that is not colonial, but rather one of mutual sharing between peers.


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Intellectual Property

Module Two | Week of May 23

This will include an overview of copyright law (feat. Vanilla Ice) and the rules about what kinds of content can be shared via satellite. Students will also learn about where their partner schools are located and send a first collection of content from space. Project Empathy has created a list of sources for content with known good licensing, but students should also triage the list of content they want to send and reach out to rights holders and ask permission.

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Becoming an Editor

Module Three | Week of May 30

Students will analyze feedback from their initial content collection in order to participate in an edit-a-thon to select what content would be best suited to share with their partner school. They will use their research on their partner school and understanding of human universals to create their own digital library of essential content. Interaction between classrooms as part of the edit-a-thon (Skype, Hangout, etc.) will be facilitated.

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Building a Space Library

Module Four | Week of June 6

Time to open up the Project Empathy kits and play with the Raspberry Pi's and (optional) Keepods. Students will complete a Raspberry Pi project to acquaint themselves with the hardware, then assemble the Project Empathy kit and send it to their partner school. Students will test the kit to make sure it works and create a set of instructions on how to use the kit and an introduction to what they have put in their library.


Program Features

In addition to the curriculum outlined above, participating classrooms will have other opportunities each week to facilitate students' deeper exploration of a given topic or greater global collaboration.

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Classroom Twitter

Project Empathy uses Twitter as a low-data way for classrooms around the world to talk to each other. Learn more.

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Classroom Skype

Skype with other classrooms around the world participating in Project Empathy, have students share editorial ideas and more.


Live from Malawi!

During the Spring Program, students will be able to ask questions of our partner in Malawi and get video responses.


How To Participate

Participation is open to any K-12 classroom or after school program. Other programs (church, community, etc.) are invited to participate as well, but this Spring Program has been designed with a classroom target group in mind.

How to get a free kit:

J&J Group, an investment company based in South Africa, has generously agreed to cover the cost of fifteen Project Empathy kits for especially enthusiastic Spring Program participants. These classrooms should be willing to play a more public role in documenting the process of the Spring Program. The fifteen kits will be installed in rural schools in South Africa.

Expectations include:

  • Blogging each week about that week's module.
  • Posting photos of Spring Program work.
  • Active engagement on Twitter.
  • Providing feedback during and after the conclusion of the Spring Program.

If this more involved role interests you, please email Thane Richard, thane@projectempathy.co.

Order a kit to register

We offer two types of kits and either will work for participating in Project Empathy. When we install the Basic Kit, the school must already have computers, smart phones, or tablets. With a Full Kit, we supply a netbook and five devices called Keepods, enabling us to can bring digital content to a school that currently has nothing.



May 5 - May 13: Registration and Discussion
Classrooms and after school programs order kits. Ordering a kit is how you register for the Spring Program.

Week of May 16: Module 1 - "What Makes Us Human?"

Week of May 23: Module 2 - "Intellectual Property"

Week of May 30: Module 3 - "Becoming an Editor"

Week of June 6: Module 4 - "Building a Space Library"

Late June/early July: Installation
Project Empathy will be traveling to South Africa to install the kits in selected partner schools. This will be something students can tune into over the summer.



There is no other education project like this, so we expect there to be questions. Please tweet @ProjEmpathy or email our Project Lead, Thane Richard, at thane@projectempathy.co.