Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Holiday Science Learning Camp- Day Three

Today marked another successful day of the Cosmos Education camp at MCEDO-Beijing school in Mathare. The theme of the day was geography. Students learned about everything from the solar system and the planets to earthquakes to population and exponential growth.

Teachers taught about Kenyan and African geography, the tectonic plates and fault lines, people and population, and the solar system. Corresponding experiments carried out by our young volunteers included dropping a stone in water to simulate tremors in an earthquake, using balloons to show components of air, and making a compass.
Justa, a Primary school teacher, teaching human geography

Students demonstrate air molecules with volunteers Theo and Sylvia

A student experiments with oxygen consumption of a flame

We also revisited an experiment on crystals that we set up yesterday. Yesterday, after explaining what crystals are and how they form, volunteers Kevin and Theo made a saturated mixture of borax and water. They had the students suspend a washed in the mixture from a string. Overnight, crystals formed on the washer and string. Today, we looked at the crystals and volunteers discussed with the students how and why the crystals formed.Students look at borax crystals

We also set up a new experiment to determine the conditions that cause rusting. After discussing rust with the students, we put pieces of steel wool in three containers. One contained water covering the steel wool, one contained only the steel wool and air, and one contained water and oil with the wool. Students came up with hypotheses about which steel wool treatment will rust the most and the least. We will continue monitoring the experiment for the remaining days of the camp.

The day was filled with songs, dances, and games to break up the class sessions. The kids had lots of energy from eating omena, small fish that are especially popular with people from Nyanza province in Kenya.

For those who may not know, Mathare is a slum in Nairobi estimated to be home to about half a million people. The sanitation conditions in Mathare are poor. Residents cannot afford metered water, so they get water illegally through tapping pipes. The water company shut off the water supply to Mathare today, which means the few toilets that serve thousands of people will not be working. Mater is available at about a fifteen-minute walk from the slum (students will be making this trip to collect water for use during the remainder of the camp).

Although Mathare is a tough place, the children who call it home are as smart and enthusiastic as any CEK has worked with. The people living in Mathare, especially the volunteer teachers who work in MCEDO, are dignified and gracious people. Our volunteers have shown immense compassion and inspiration working in the slum, which can be an emotionally and physically taxing experience. One volunteer told me today, “I am grateful for this experience, to know how my fellow Kenyans are living, and to just get to be with these kids here.”

1 comment:

BeckerBulletin said...

thank you for the great updates!