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Skype in the Classroom Inspires Middle School Students to Save Lives in Africa

Posted Date: 07/29/2015

Skype in the Classroom Inspires Middle School Students to Save Lives in Africa

Andover Middle School science teacher Andrea Friend was featured on Microsoft Vice President of Education Anthony Salcito's blog for her outstanding work engaging students using Skype! Read the article below and go to to watch a video of Andrea sharing about her experiences as an educator.

Technology can connect your students with the world, but according to Andrea Friend, their relationship with the teacher still determines success. “It always comes back to that relationship with the teacher,” Friend says. “If you don’t have it, it doesn’t matter what you teach, they’re not going to like it. But if you have that relationship with that student, they’ll go to the ends of the earth to do what you need them to be doing.”

As a child, Friend was lucky enough to forge strong bonds with her teachers – several of whom were named Kansas teachers of the year. With that inspiration, a social worker mother, and a teacher grandmother, Friend believes she was destined to be a teacher.

“When we went on vacations, it wasn’t just ‘Let’s go have fun,’ it was ‘OK, we’ve got to go learn,’” she tells us. “That’s very much how I am with my own classroom, and that’s how Skype came into it, because [my students] could go on a little vacation. My mom made me go out and seek information, and that’s how I teach.”

Friend, a Skype Master Teacher, regularly uses Skype in the Classroom to engage her students. Through guest speakers and visits to other classrooms, her students have visited Yellowstone National Park, the Amazon Rainforest and have learned about the impact of climate change in the Arctic. Her work has garnered recognition, including a Golden Apple Award from her district, but the real rewards came when her students created Project Link.

After learning that the pipes had burst in the Nairobi, Kenya classroom of another Skype Master Teacher, and that his students were getting sick from drinking dirty water, Friend’s students sprang into action.

“[It’s] an ongoing project that has been completely student-driven – where my kids built water filters,” Friend says. “They only used items that would be found in Nairobi. So we’re talking buckets, sand, towels and rags. And they were able to create water filters that actually worked. We brought in experts (like engineers) from Skype to help grow that seed of knowledge and information.”

The project is still ongoing, and the students continue to raise funds to support it, but they have already been able to put in seven water filters for the community, and over 300 family water filters in homes. The impact on Friend’s students has been powerful.

“The students feel like their words and their lives are important, and they know that they have saved lives,” says Friend. “One student said, ‘When I was a kid, I wanted to be a superhero, but now I really am.’”

Meet the superhero teacher who made it all happen in today’s Daily Edventure.