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.
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.
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!
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!!