Friday, September 21, 2007

“Chemsha bongo ……Engineering Challenges” 2nd Update

Activity 2

Location: Kamukunji Secondary School

Activity: Chemsha Bongo

Date: Thursday 20th September, 2007

This was our first session with Kamukunji Secondary School but the second session overall of "Chemsha Bongo....Engineering challenges” We arrived as scheduled at 3:30 pm to be greeted by the Deputy headmistress who was eagerly awaiting our arrival. Due to the fact that the third and fourth formers were having a meeting with their teachers, we were content working with the availed second formers who were assembled into a classroom. There was a total of about 30 students altogether since some of them had already left for home.

The Cosmos Education Kenya volunteers in attendance were: Lizbeth Mate, Bridgit Muasa, Evalyn Mwihia, Carol Muli and Kevin Kinyua. We introduced Cosmos Education and ourselves to the students as we had never worked with that group before. They were very enthusiastic to know what we were to do with them for that one-hour session we were there. We explained to them that we will be having six sessions with them that term and three of them would be “chemsha bongo” activities while the other three would be mentorship talks.

When all this was said and done, we jumped right in to divide the students into two groups. One of the groups chose the name “Macadiff” where as the other chose the name “ODM”.

The first activity was the “Connect the dots” brain teaser whereby the students were to join a series of nine dots using only four straight lines. The groups each chose a representative who would take the challenge on the blackboard while the rest of the group tried to figure it out on paper where they were seated. Several attempts were made by the students but to no avail. Many came close but not enough to get it. This activity was aimed at assisting the students to think far and wide and also to think outside the box.

Foreground: Bridgit explaining the challenge to the students
Background: students attempting the challenge in groups

The second activity was the “Towers of Hanoi” activity. We first explained the concept of exponentials. We then asked the students to guess the least number of moves it would take to move three disks with varying sizes from the smallest to the largest to a different spot using only three open spaces and without placing a larger disc on top of a smaller disc or moving more than one disc at a time. Guesses made included: 2, 8, 10 and 7. A number of attempts were made and the students arrived at the number 7 as the least number of moves to make. We explained that the activity used the algorithm 2n-1 where n represented the number of discs. We therefore calculated the least number of moves it would take to move four discs with the same rules to follow and we came up with 24-1 = 15 moves. This activity was aimed at teaching the students about exponentials. The first group, “ODM” won both the 3 and 4 disc challenge.

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Towers of Hanoi Challenge

We headed outside the classroom for the final activity which was the “Balancing act” challenge whereby the students were to empty some water from a plastic cup that was suspended in mid air by 6 strings to which 6 group representatives held on to. The challenge was that, if the strings were tugged at, the plastic cup would drop and if any of the handlers was to shake, water would spill off the cup and the group would be penalized for each drop of water spilt. This activity was aimed at testing the students’ team work spirit, leadership skills, strategy methods and efficient use of time. The students showed a good sense of teamwork and one of the groups actually managed to empty the cup more than half way.

With the last activity done, we headed back to the classroom to wind up the session. We tested the students’ memory by asking them to repeat the volunteers’ names and also to recap on what they learnt from the activities done on that day. The students were very excited to hear that we would be back the next week for another session.

After the students were dismissed for the day, we headed back to the office where we discussed the session in detail, noting all that went well and areas of improvement.

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