Starting in 2012, Smile Education Foundation began a program in Jardin, Antioquia. A lot was accomplished and the program was well received throughout the community. In order to ensure the success of the program we began connecting with the community and instilling trust between the school, the children and parents. Next, SEF led seminars that allowed children to focus on recognizing their surrounding environment. Academic seminars focused on geography, math, science, nutrition, and daily habits that could help to improve overall health. These seminars also encouraged students to continue onto higher education.Then, SEF provided funds for OTACA to begin the PluvioRED project in the community; OTACA (Observadores del Tiempo Atmosférico CERES ANTARES/Atmospheric Weather Observers) is a program of about 100 students between 8 and 20 years of age. The program is based in the southeastern portion of Antioquia. OTACA began in Jardín in 2005 and is strictly volunteer based and depends on students and other members of the community to assist in collecting information from rain gauges and soil samples to deliver to NASA daily. The PluvioRED project donated pluviómetros (rain gauges) to the community because beforehand, they were building their own units of measurement to use. This allowed Mercedes Arrubla, a local math teacher, to integrate the data and numbers collected from the PluvioRED project into her math and science curriculum for her students. Arrubla wanted to connect her lessons to the real world in order to keep her students interested and has done just that. OTACA is an organization that aims to enhance the lives of children in southeastern Antioquia through education and by positively influencing students academically and socially. OTACA continues to conduct research on how their efforts will affect the sociocultural aspect of the community and even the future economy of the region through the student’s participation in the program. With the primary focus on nature, the goal is centered on teaching the students how the environment and climate can affect their daily lives.
Smile Education Foundation will travel to Jardín in July to see our program at work. Three years on, SEF continues to monitor program outcomes and gather data on the influence of specific projects in Jardín. Through continued collaboration with the community, SEF offers support where we are needed. Smile Education Foundation greatly anticipates seeing how far the students have progressed through the cooperative efforts of SEF and OTACA. Make sure to check out our website, smilef.org to follow each of our success stories as we travel across Colombia to fulfill our mission.
PluvioRED is an additional project with continuing work in the community of Jardín. It provides seminars on the atmospheric processes of rain in the area. The data is presented to the community and PluvioRED provides guidance on how to analyze and use the observations in order to improve the overall quality of life. Such seminars integrate important aspects climate and rain in the area of agriculture.