When classes were shut down across the country and then
turned online during the start of the pandemic, a group of California college
students saw a need.
Karly Hou is a sophomore at Harvard who came home to Palo
Alto to finish the year virtually. That’s when she learned her younger peers
were having trouble.
“I was thinking since Palo Alto is a really good school
district and even then my friends are struggling with all these changes, I
could just imagine what other students across the country have to deal with,”
With extra time on her hands, she and some friends from
different colleges started an online teaching center called Wave Learning
“What if we have all these college students teach these short interactive classes that they loved to middle and high school students?” Hou said.
More and more college students began to volunteer to teach
these free, live, interactive online classes.
The courses available range from the introduction to the
cardiothoracic system to who is the greatest athlete of all time to filmmaking.
The Wave Learning Center launched in mid-June but already has
more than 3,000 students from 31 different countries who have logged on to
“We’ve built this really awesome community of learners and
none of these students are here because they have to be,” Hou said. “There’s no
grades, no tests.”
Clear across the country, Ana Rodrigues, a senior high
school student in Massachusetts, saw a friend post a link on Instagram.
“The minute I saw it I immediately thought, ‘wow, free
learning! This is awesome,’” Rodrigues said.
She’s now about to start her third course in art history.
“It’s a really great opportunity to learn from young people
who are going into all of these fields and really are on the edge of all these
new really interesting pieces of academics,” she said.
Her mom likes it too.
“It’s like a blessing for us,” said Mary Ellen Rodrigues. “And
she doesn’t have to leave the house, so that’s even better.”
The goal is to help middle and high schoolers so they don’t
lose all the knowledge they gained over the past year.
“At the heart of it, what we’re trying to solve are these
issues of educational inequalities,” Hou said. “Those issues have always
existed with or without the pandemic, it’s just that now it’s even worse than