Name: Sona and Ajay Jain
School: Homeschooled by their Mom, Charlene Jain
Achievement: Ajay designed a curriculum and taught a class using Scratch, a video game software; Sona serves as the secretary of the Advisory Board. Both are general assistants and volunteer weekly at Elmhurst Public Library.
Key to Awesomeness: While taking a robotics class, eighth-grader Ajay Jain discovered a software developed by MIT called Scratch.
“I was super interested,” Ajay says. “So I downloaded it and taught it to myself.”
The program allows the user to create interactive stories, animations, games, music and art. So Ajay wrote up a curriculum for a three-week course and presented the idea to Kimberly Scott, middle school services librarian at the library.
"He had the most thorough curriculum I've seen," Scott says.
Ajay taught the class in the library’s computer lab to 10 students. The class was such a success, Ajay plans to teach it again this winter through the library.
“My favorite part was just seeing the kids’ expressions, making their own game,” Ajay says.
He encouraged the students to let their creativity take over to make something uniquely their own.
“It’s not my game, it’s your game,” Ajay told his students. “Just follow these basic guidelines and put whatever you want in it.”
For Sona, working at the library means she gets to clean and organize, something she likes to do. During her weekly volunteer time, Sona is often found near the children’s play area, putting things away and wiping them down.
"Sometimes you have to wipe down stuff that the children put in their mouths," she says, smiling in her quiet way. "Also, I've done the computer area, and it can be really gross."
During the monthly Middle School Advisory Board meetings, Sona is the secretary. She’s learning to write quickly, taking down the many ideas being churned out at the meetings. Sona is also in charge of the board’s blog, and she often makes posters to get the word out about upcoming events for middle schoolers.
“Both Sona and Ajay have been instrumental to the early success of all our middle school programs,” says Scott.
“Ajay has taken on the role of president this year, and I look forward to the ideas he will come up with to keep the group active and engaged. Sona is bright and helpful, assisting in our summer reading program, as well as our middle school programs throughout the year.
“They are collaborators in every sense of the word.”
The Middle School Advisory Board meets once a month and is open to all interested sixth- through eighth-graders. Their Holiday Extravaganza will be held Dec. 10 from 1 to 3 p.m.