Yunus Challenge

28 Apr

PEN is entering this year’s Yunus Challenge, which is part of the MIT IDEAS Competition.

You can vote for our team here:

If you’re around MIT, please come to the IDEAS Showcase on Monday Apr 29, 6-8 PM in Stata. PEN and all the teams in teh competition will have posters/demos.

Also, the final awards ceremony is Thursday at 630 in 34-101.


Scaling Development Ventures Conference

20 Feb

Two weekends ago, PEN finally had a reunion!!!!!!  minus Brianna and Aron… 😦

We convened to attend the Scaling Development Ventures Conference, hosted by PSC, D-Lab, and others. Although a blizzard came through Boston exactly then, we got together anyways.

Here we are!

PEN presents D-Lab: Education!

20 Dec

We are very excited to announce that we are starting a new MIT class in collaboration with D-Lab.

Here is the course description:

Explores education in the international development context and how modern best practices can be applied to overcome challenges, such as limited resources, language barriers, large class sizes, and entrenched pedagogy. Through an overview of core teaching skills emphasizing experiential and project-based learning, provides the necessary background to nurture creativity in youth and develop interactive lessons around science, technology, engineering, and math. Students draft and deliver lessons, receive feedback from peers and mentors, and then practice teaching in local Boston-area schools.  Opportunity to teach abroad over summer.

Please spread the word to MIT/Harvard/Wellesley folks so that they register for the class! Undergraduates and graduate students welcome.

Scientists for the Future!

15 Nov

This past Saturday, PEN collaborated with the educational NGO Obsession Inc and the Creativity Group of the Ghanaian university KNUST to stage the Scientists for the Future Fair!  Hopefully this will be the first of many annual fairs to celebrate the ingenuity of young Ghanaians.

Sponsored by the US Embassy in Accra, our Fair brought together young scientists and engineers from six Kumasi secondary schools to compete for the most brilliant solution to a local problem.  Each group was mentored by an engineering student from KNUST for three weeks, and every one of their entries exceeded our expectations by light-years.

Third place went to the brilliant young women of Yaa Asantewaa SHS, who designed a joint emergency light and automatic lighting system, all in a compact and user-friendly package. With their invention, class prefects need no longer go from dorm to dorm arguing with unruly student to switch off all the lights– instead, a simple alarm clock can declare lights-out as soon as it’s bedtime!  And everyone always needs emergency power in Kumasi, where load-shedding is frequent and unpredictable.

Second place went to KNUST’s own Senior High School, where four young men presented a host of elegant inventions: automatic night-triggered street lamps, an optical smoke-sensor, and charcoal made from sawdust and starch.

The first prize winners at Osei Kyeretwie Senior High School may give our Tanzanian friends at Global Cycle Solutions some competition– they invented their own bicycle-powered cell phone charger!  Rumor has it that their prototype has charged a few mobiles already, so I hope we can see it out on the market someday soon.

Another totally awesome entry was an automatic desk lamp made from PVC and a weighted cosmetics container, which lights up when you put your books down over the light sensor– by only switching on when a student was at her desk, this invention could cut down on a school’s electricity use by 78%!  We also heard some high-quality music from an amplifier made from scavenged electronics, and everyone was impressed by Kumasi Anglican Secondary School’s AC-to-DC converter.

Thank you to our fabulous mentors and science teachers, and to our sponsors at the US Embassy (who made it all possible) and Kingdom Books (who provided our winners with scientific calculators)!

Enterprise Africa Competition Video

20 Jul

A video of our pitch presented at the Enterprise Africa Competition has been posted to TechTV.

Check it out here:


New Website Up!

31 May

PEN just launched the newest iteration of our web platform, complete with forum, lesson-development area and libraries of low-cost materials and how-to guides. Go check it out!



PEN in the MIT 100k YouPitch competition!

28 May

Alas, we didn’t get through to the final round. But we do have a rather excellent short pitch video, complete with cute animations, summarizing who we are and what we’re about. Check it out below!