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Monthly Archives: March 2011

Putting words into actions

Today was the first time we got the microscopes into the classroom.  At Reginald Mengi Secondary school there are over 210 Form I students in 4 classes. We did an introduction to the microscope activity for all 4 classes.  They prepared slides and observed onion cells. 

Seeing is believing

It was wonderful to see that many students get their first hands and eyes on this equipment. 

Busy Bees

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'Seeing' voices

Saturday I got up waaayy early because class at Korongoni SS starts at 7am on Saturday. So I arrived at 6:20am to find no one but Maasai Security. Finally the teacher came but the students seem to arrive for 8am to this 7am class. To give them credit though, they did stay until 1pm. 6 hours of labs on a Saturday….Hard Core.

Listening for Resonant Lengths

We spent 4 hours demonstrating all the concepts in the sound unit. The power was present (we borrowed it from a neighbour, 150m away) but cuts out regularly, causing my projector to turn off and need to cool down before starting up again. That was a bit annoying but at least it was quiet on the Saturday and there was a beautiful view of Kilimanjaro over the roof of the school. Looks like there is a fair bit of snow up there.

Hard Core - Form IV - Korongoni SS

The paper MUST be charged! ... but who charged it?

I spent Friday afternoon at Msasani SS facilitating electrostatics activities with two classes of Form II students. We had the white boards going and students were diagramming and predicting behaviours of situations they would then demonstrate with an electroscope, ebonite and (no fur in Moshi) plastic and balloons. The power was out but the laptops held on enough that they could have a look at some simulations, which they enjoyed.

Hey....we were right!

The classes were big and I found myself facing one of the challenges that these teachers meet daily. The students in class are many but are attentive and not very noisy, however, outside there are many children on break or having finished the day’s classes and much chatter is going on. Then it started raining and the classroom has a tin roof. Oh my, I found it extremely hard to find my voice and with the language barrier thrown in, to make myself understood. The students were very helpful and enthusiastic.

I will be back at Msasani Monday with Form IV.

We were a smaller group yesterday at the third DST workshop. This was apparently midterm exam time so many teachers were unable to come.

Found some lovely brass slinkies

We are finding the venue a bit noisy at times due to the primary school next door. They are quite loud during break times. The language barrier is still an issue, preventing some teachers from really being comfortable enough to be freely vocal.

How can we project this tiny electroscope?

We had a good day. We conducted a DNA extraction lab from bananas, precipitated copper from solution, played with lots of waves and electrostatics equipment and investigated some CD resources which will be very helpful.

Alliy Leyeme - St. John Ambulance, Tanzania

We have organized First Aid Training for teachers for April 8 and 9. We will hold two sessions conducted by the representative from St. John Ambulance, Tanzania.

Tomorrow I will visit Msasani Secondary School to facilitate waves and electrostatics. They have completed the units and will now demostrate the concepts with real equipment. Saturday I will go to Korongoni SS, again to do waves and then an acceleration due to gravity lab.

Things are progressing well as the teachers realize that I am actually here to support and serve them. They can ask for whatever they need and I will try to accommodate. I am doing everything I can to respond immediately to their requests so as to emphasize that I am serious.

The weather is changing here in Tanzania. The rains are coming more frequently and the temperature is cooler. I am learning why they make their homes from mud bricks. I live in a very muddy community. I’m sure it will get much worse.  The fields around here have all been prepared and are being planted.  Every square foot is used and all prepared by hand and muscle.  I can’t wait to see what crops come up.  The carrots here are very good and sweet.

I have spent the week sourcing equipment and meeting with individual schools to make plans. At Kiusa SS we are planning to make a new science room. Fortunately we don’t have to make the room. We will paint the back wall for periodic table and a projection screen. We will have the students create science related materials to decorate the walls. We only need 100m of extension cord to get power from the primary school to this room. The head teacher is on board.

I am working on getting First Aid Training for the teachers. They have to teach full units on First Aid, however none of of them have any training.  I have a representative from St. John Ambulance Tanzania coming to our workshop this coming Wednesday.  We will make plans to at least get training for one teacher from each school.  We will also work on getting first aide kits in all the schools.  Doing Science means potential for safety issues.

Ready to go today with the workshop. Unfortunately it is exam time aso some teachers are unable to come. It looks like we’ll be 25-30 today.

Today I got an address…Well not really. My house apparently has no official street name or number. I do now have a Post Box. It took about an hour, 2 passport photos, $13 and now I have it for the rest of my life…I think.

You can send fan mail to me at:

Diana Hall
P.O. Box 1837
Moshi, Tanzania

All eyes on task

We did it…we got 70 students through the speed of sound lab in 80 minutes.  We used two computers with Lab Pro and microphone sensor.  They did it in groups of around 8 in shifts.  It worked because:

– All students were interested in what they were doing.

Pretty fine data!

– Everyone was engaged and on task…no bystanders

– They asked for assistance when required.

Reading a thermometer...new for several

Some obervations I made during this activity were that they were able to sketch the graph onto a blank page very easily.  I believe this is because they are used to copying diagrams and information from the blackboard daily.  They get no handouts and don’t use computers.  Their penmanship is all excellent.

No spectator physicists on this team

While all this was going on, we sent a group of 4 out to a space between houses to conduct a low tech version by making echoes off the houses.  This was difficult as the echoes were quite close together so timing and counting was an issue but with a little assistance they got good results.  The residents of the houses found it all quite unusual.

As the first in school experiment for DST, I am pleased to report it was a success.

Seeing Sound travel

…to a large class is that you can make a really long medium. Here we had 70 students in a line indicating with their arms when a sound wave came by them. We measured the speed of sound to be 47 m/s. [speed of sound in air is around 340m/s].  : ( Well that’s science. The still short period of time measured was inflicted with a really big reaction time error.  Tomorrow we will improve on our procedure and hope for better results.

What IS inside?

They came in big numbers. 50 science teachers from the Moshi area attended Monday’s workshop. We lost 10 on Tuesday due to committments with exams and classes. Everyone was enthusiastic and the participation was wonderful.

We modeled thinking exercises, conducted sample labs, investigated computer simulations and interfacing equipment, looked at some DVD resources. and networked. I understand there are no opportunities for teachers to get together like this so they mostly don’t know each other.

On the planning side, we discussed challenges in getting the active learning into the classroom and brainstormed first steps in overcoming these challenges. Teachers split into groups and made prioritised (long) wish lists for equipment. We made plans to meet again in two weeks (Feb 23) by which time we will have conducted some activities with the students.

Day One DST Group

Tomorrow and Friday I am going to Kiboriloni Secondary School to help Janeth (Physics Teacher) do Speed of Sound experiments with her Form IV students. These would be equivalent of around our grade 11. We will conduct three separate labs from low to high tech. We will prep the lab Thursday and conduct it Friday. The 70 students will be divided into 3 groups and will rotate through the 3 experiments. I hope this isn’t too ambitions.

I have discovered an excellent helper. His name is Carsten. He helped with the workshops and was really good. I will take him to school on Friday and see how he does with the students. That way there will be 3 supervisors, one for each group.

Fingers crossed…..can’t wait to see how we pull it off.

It's a baby cabbage

Tomorrow is the launch of the Do Science Tanzania workshops. I think all is in order. I am proud to say I was able to find all the things I wanted this week after giving my feet a workout every day searching.

I found white board material and got it cut down so I have 24+ pair sized boards for collaboration.  The duka la dawa (pharmacy) came through with my order for Calcium Chloride and Phenolpthalein. It came from Dar Es Salam and arrived in only 2 days.  Amazing.  I bought a stop watch for $1.75 and bonus….it works….plastic hosing for waves, also for lungs…exacto  knives….

Everyone told me I would not be able to find red cabbage in Tanzania, at least definitely not in Moshi……Ahahahahaha…..Found it right in the town market.  Red Cabbage juice makes an excellent pH indicator.

I’m excited about having all the teachers together in one room tomorrow.  Fingers crossed for no major hickups…..Thanks again Everyone.

View from my front door