Monthly Archives: February 2015

Science kits for hands-on learning

Imagine you are a carpenter, and but you don’t have a toolbox or workshop. You can only describe the beautiful designs you have seen, explain with crude drawings how you might put a joint together, and point to pictures in a book to illustrate how different tools can be used.

This is the situation for most science teachers in Ghana. The classrooms are typically bare but for a few posters, some hand-drawn, on the wall. The teachers are forced to “teach abstract”, without “practicals”. For some, it is how they learned science, so it seems normal. For others, it is frustrating. Any professional deprived of their tools will agree.

The classrooms are typically bare but for a few posters, some hand-drawn, on the wall. The teachers are forced to “teach abstract”, without “practicals”.

One of the goals of the Girls Science Exploratory Club Initiative is to inspire the girls about science, and to increase the quality of teaching. One way to do this effectively is by introducing teaching and learning materials.

Creating Science Kits for Learning

We started with basic concepts like sound, light, electricity and magnetism, where a majority of ideas and activities can be done with low-cost, and in many cases, locally available materials.

We created two basic kits. The first is for teaching about sound and light. The mirror paper (bottom left) for making kaleidoscopes were brought from the US.

IMG_4316

The other is for electricity and magnetism. The iron filings and magnets were bought in the US, and the various electrical wires were from a previous project.

Untitled

We also provided the teachers and clubs with a basic kit, consisting of mostly stationery staples, which we also obtained mostly locally.

The girls helped us put together the kits and they and the teachers were so excited to receive them. They couldn’t wait to put them to use!

Where we got the materials

We went on a shopping spree in the sprawling Makola market area in Accra, visiting fabric supplies stores for yarn and scissors. Zongo Lane nearby and emanating alleys have several electronics stores for LED lights, resistors, wire etc. Street vendors provided laser pointers and batteries, and Melcom was a good place for flashlights. We also visited a “hardware store” for sandpaper, nails, wire strippers; and various vendors for plastic cups etc.

The bag must have weighed more than 35 kilos!

Petrine & VIvian - Hevy  Load

We also went to the local market in Pokuase looking for hand-made mirrors (not shown in the kit above) and containers to put the kits. Surprisingly, balloons of uniform size were really hard to find. We bought ours at a supermarket along with the coffee filters. With the help from teachers, the science coordinators and folks from the Science Education Unit, we continue to identify reliable sources in greater Accra for hands-on materials. Let us know if you have any ideas!!

 

Ghana: Ready for science clubs

Board member Dr. Connie Chow travelled to Ghana this past winter to kick start the Girls Science Exploratory project in Pokuase, under the aegis of AWAP. She worked with Petrine Addae, AWAP’s Project Manager in Ghana, to connect with other stakeholders to root the project in the education and local communities. (Connie was pleased to escape the snow in Boston)!

While Dr. Chow has been to Ghana several times, Petrine has laid important groundwork and made essential connections beyond what was previously established. Petrine introduced Connie to national, municipal and school leaders and administrators in science education. All were supportive of the Girls Science Exploratory Clubs that introduce hands-on experiences; however, a few of them needed a little bit of convincing of the value of girls-only clubs. Now, all are aboard!

Here are some of of the champions of our initiative.

The team at the Ghana Education Service Science Education Unit, including (from L to R, above) Mr. Andrews Quaning, Head; Ms. Olivia Serwaa Opare, the National Science Coordinator; and Ms. Sola Boateng, the National Math Coordinator. (Board member Connie Chow is in the center and Ms. Addae is on the far right). Mr. Quaning and his team were already encouraging schools to establish science clubs, and were in the midst of documenting how many schools already had them. The majority, we were told, happend in the senior secondary schools.  Continue reading Ghana: Ready for science clubs

Teachers and heads of schools

GHANATeachers2015-screenshot

We are thrilled to have these enthusiastic teachers as part of our team, and to have the support of the heads of schools! Teachers we have trained come from the following schools in Pokuase, Ghana:

  • St. Sylvanus Roman Catholic School
  • Pokuase MA Basic School
  • Nii Oto Kwame School
  • AME Zion School
  • Pokuase Methodist Basic School 1 & 2

We also work with the Rangoon Camp Junior Secondary School in Accra.

Click on the image above or here to find out who they are and the schools they are associated with.