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Category Archives: General Updates

I bought an interesting video called “the Human Body: Pushing its Limits”. It is kind of neat as it shows a person but only his skeleton and muscle systems as he executes a number of tasks and discusses the ability of the body to achieve amazing feats when under stress. We showed this movie recently to the Form III boys at Moshi SS. They have a computer lab and even a projector so it was easy. While I was there I inquired as to their physics topics and arranged to return next week to do some practical Optics.

Before the break I spent the morning with the Form III physics students at Moshi SS.  Sabrina (teacher from Germany) helped out.  We did some optics activities, namely finding the focal length of a mirror and then discovering the concept of refraction.

The focal length exercise particularly is a difficult one to grasp.  My students in Canada find it tricky as well.  It is pretty important that students try to do it because they think they know but they often miss the important point about incoming rays being parallel to each other.  It was a good day and I met a new physics teacher who hadn’t been to the workshops before.  Sorry and sadly I seem to have lost the pictures from this event.

Titration of Asperin

Ok so we need to work on communication.  Workshop IV for teachers was very poorly attended.  The dates of term, exams and breaks vary for all schools and no one seems to know when they are until the day of.  At least that is my impression.  A few teachers could not attend due to exam supervision and many others apparently did not get the message and/or did not reply.  I can only contact them through cell phone/ text message.  A representative had volunteered from each school to pass on messages to all the teachers.  This is obviously not working so we’ll work on that for next term.

Sabrina, Biology Teacher

 Those who did attend got right in there with titration labs and further DNA extraction.  We are still having very little success with the DNA.  We met Sabrina who is a volunteer teacher or student teacher from Germany.  She is very good and will be very helpful in facilitating the communication at least with Moshi SS.

Elizabeth receives her certificate from Alliy

Twenty teachers received their First Aid Certification over the two classes. I decided to hold them at the Buffalo Hotel for the cleanliness and comfort since there are many practical exercises.  It was a good decision.  Everything went well and the teachers were extremely happy to receive their training. 

ResusciAnnie allows teachers to Do First Aid

I feel like I’m still taking much for granted, as I have attended many, many First Aid Classes over my lifetime.  I think starting back in swimming lessons and I even remember taking one at Voyageur Travel with their staff.  These teachers are adults and have never taken any First Aid training.  It was fun to watch them fumble

Neema breathes life into Annie

through and eventually master the exercises. 

Dr. Lilac (left)

We had lots of laughs and the instructor was very good.  We were also fortunate to have a medical doctor join in who came with Alliy Lyeme from Dar Es Salam.  Dr. Lilac Mabeba was able to answer questions and contribute more detail when required and it was very nice just to have another resource.

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.

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 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.

What's a 'cap on class size?'

I’ve spent the last two days visiting the secondary schools in Moshi. It’s been great. I have had two wonderful guides (teachers from local schools) and a driver from the Municipality. I’ve seen schools with literally no equipment and no power, and others with some and more equipment. All the equipment that is there is really old and much of it not useable. Chemistry seems the area that is seeing the most ‘doing’.

I have 5 more schools tomorrow visit. Of the 10 schools I’ve invited so far I have around 38 teachers coming to a workshop that has a capacity of 25 – 30. After tomorrow we should be really busting at the seams. They are all welcome as I realize that this is a typical obstacle that most of them face daily. Class sizes of 50, 60 and even 70 students.

"Someone's watching over you" Kiusa Secondary School

It was really great to individually meet all the science teachers. I am grateful to the Municipal Council for sending out the letter of introduction which allowed each school to organize their teachers to be able to meet me. They are all very kind and I can’t wait to see them all in one room….

Listen to my interview with Kathleen Petty on CBC Ottawa Morning, Tuesday February 8.  Interview titled ‘Tanzanian Education’.