‘Coviducation’: Teen volunteers create website to educate young students on COVID-19 in Sarasota Co.

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TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Explaining school safety measures in light of the coronavirus pandemic to young children can be difficult. Prior to students returning to in-person classes, the Sarasota County Board of Education expressed concerns about a lack of resources targeted to the youngest students.

The board turned to Sarasota’s Suncoast Science Center’s Faulhaber Fab Lab, a resource for children and adults who want to learn more about science and technology, for assistance. The Suncoast Science Center Student Community Innovation Program provides high school and college students an opportunity to give back to their community by helping to solve a problem facing it.

“The Fab Lab was looking for opportunities to help the community and provide innovative responses to COVID,” said Mimi Faulhaber, a team leader for Fab Lab projects.

A group of teen volunteers took on the challenge of delivering a product, in short order, that the school system could use before and during the 2020-2021 school year.

“It seemed like a good opportunity to both stay productive and give back to the community,” said Kasumi Wade, a senior at Riverview High School in Sarasota.

Twelve teens and six mentors created a website called “Coviducation,” which uses interactive storytelling to explain coronavirus, back-to-school safety measures and how they work, and the science of viruses to young kids.

The first step was to formulate a plan of attack, followed by dividing the volunteers into three groups: content development, user-interface design, and coding. The content team used the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and hospital research to develop a storyline, which features “Arthur,” a knight sent to protect children from viruses by teaching them about safety measures. The design team worked on the look and feel of the website, while the development team wrote the code.

Some volunteers knew nothing about web design or coding when the “Coviducation” project got underway.

“Thinking about creating a website from scratch was pretty daunting,” admits volunteer Naina Chauhan, also a high school senior. But, she adds, were it not for the project she might never have considered website design and development.

“Coviducation” creation began in June and the team members, which primarily worked virtually, delivered the website prior to the start of the school year.

“These are incredibly talented kids,” said Laura Kingsley, the chief academic officer for Sarasota County Schools. “They did things I haven’t seen adults accomplish and they accomplished it in very short order.”

“Coviducation” was provided to each elementary school in Sarasota County and was also included in information sent to parents prior to students returning to class.

The lesson plans are available to any school teacher or parent. Learn more at Coviducation.net.

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