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On the road with the Cosmos E-team!

During December, 2002, Cosmos Education sent a team of volunteers to southern Africa to teach young Africans about science and technology, and the role of these topics in sustainable development, health, and the environment. Given that a solar eclipse was visible throughout much of southern Africa on December 4th, we thought this would be a good opportunity to use the "Sun, Earth, & You" as a theme to tie together the above mentioned topics.

Below are journal entries from the Education-team's (E-team) experiences on the road in Africa!

Journal Entries

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Dec. 1, 2002

Well, I'm sitting here on campus at Stanford preparing for finals, but I'm happy to report that our Education team has arrived safely in Johannesburg and they are busy preparing for a great 2+ weeks of getting into schools and orphanagers and working with children in South Africa and Swaziland.

I recieved a phone call from Bryan Palmintier this morning saying that he and Neema, Vivian, Susan, Fezile, and Eddie had all rendevoused at the airport and they were waiting for Jessica to arrive.

Jess, unfortunately, was at the mercy of Delta airlines on Saturday and when her flight to NYC was cancelled she missed her connection to Joberg. After a few phone calls and conversations with Delta representatives she managed to get a flight that puts her in Joberg at 8am on Monday morning. No stress in Africa, baby!

Eddie and the e-team are spending tonight at the campsite south of Pretoria and will pick up Jess in the morning. From there they will head north, visiting schools along the way. On Wednesday, during  the eclipse, they plan to be in Thoyandayou (north-east of Pietersburg).

From there they will travel south, entering Swaziland on Friday and meeting up with Clement in Manzini. Hakeem lands in Joberg on Wednesday and will be heading directly to Swaziland where he will meet up with Clement and visit schools on Thursday. We hope to hear from the team directly as email connections in the region are relatively common, nevertheless I'll be sure to send out updates as I'm informed via phone.

Cheers and best of luck to the e-team! Kevin

Journal Entries

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Dec. 4, 2002

The big news is that we found a beautiful spot at the line of totality and managed to avoid all the thousands of tourists, only the eclipse was 100% clouded over. Hey, it still went black and was pretty cool...

After I finally arrived and the e-team met me at the airport we sped up to Thohoyandou and camped out. First thing Tuesday we called around the area and found that almost all schools have closed for holidays. So, we made the best of our morning by practicing our curriculum, "Sun, Earth, & You" -(thanks to Kevin for the great name/theme). We feel great about our modules and the team is ready.

That afternoon we drove to find a site for eclipse viewing and managed to run across a Dutch radio crew who interviewed Fezile about Cosmos Ed. Fezile gave a great interview: He talked about the myths around the eclipse and about our curriculum and our team. The reporter gave us his information so we can look for a transcript later on.

Fezile and Neema managed to organize a Venda primary school in Makonde where we also planned to see the eclipse on our own since the school wanted us for 10am.

At dawn this morning we headed out for our eclipse site under dark and cloudy skies. Sure enough, at 8:20 the sky went dark and thanks to Mike's digital camera we have some great short videos.

As soon as we were sure the World had not come to an end we headed out to the Mudzidzidzi primary school which was a good hour's drive down tiny, narrow dirt roads and quite a job for our driver, Eddie! Although we started our session with 8 children between the ages of 8-10, by the end of our four hours we had no less than 50 children and all the tribal elders gathered around. We did a basic course: Fezile touched on the eclipse, Bryan talked about the Sun and our relationship with it, Susan discussed the environment, Neema did a great segment on health and AIDS and then I had every child (36 of them at the time) draw the Earth and home Africa with their crayons and paper. The kids loved having their drawings photographed with the digital camera since they got to see the image.

After a half hour of tribal dancing and drumming (which Susan and Vivian and Nemma joined in on) we headed back out of the tiny village. We have decided to make a bee line for Swazi so that we can get into as many schools as possible and we will be there mid morning to meet Hakeem and Clement. (Hakeem arrived safely and we spoke to him a few hours ago. He lost his luggage but is very excited anyway - too bad he probably won't fit into any of our clothes!)

So, more to come as soon as we have internet access again. We are very excited and happy to be heading to open schools!!

Jess, Fezile, Neema, Suzan, Vivian, Bryan & Eddie

Journal Entries

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Dec. 6, 2002

So, it is friday, December 6th, and Clement has become our cruise director.

We arrived safely to Swaziland yesterday, after a long drive from the Northern Province, and we met up with Hakeem and Clement. The University of Swaziland is closed due to a student strike, so our talk there has been cancelled.Clement organized some exciting plans for us though. We could not get into schools yesterday, so instead we went to the Royal Palace, and we joined in a traditional dance ceremony. The men stood on one side of the kraal, the women on the other, and we were led through several dances by the elder men of Swaziland. The kenyan angels (who know no fear), and I danced with the Swazi women, and at one point found ourselves smack in front of the king (i think Vivian swooned...). Today there is a photo of Bryan and the angels at the ceremony in the Swazi paper. So, CosmosEd has arrived!

This morning we started bright and early at the St. Josephs missionary primary school with 300 children grades 1- 6. After our introduction, we broke up immediately into modules, so that we could be most effective with the kids. Bryan and Hakeem did an aeronautics section including making paper airplanes; Neema did a health section and sang her new health song (to be transrcibed later), Suzo did an environment class, and Vivian did careers (also with a song..."i want to be a teacher, deep down in my heart...", and I did a World, Africa, Home section.

After the primary school we went to the Enjabulweni Orpahange. This was a harder teaching environment, the boys seemed distracted and a little sleepy. We did our teaching in one big group, since there were only 30 of them, and we did a long section on HIV/AIDS. The head teacher here joined by having some of the students demonstrate an incredible skit called, "HIV attacks the white blood cells." This we will have to repeat. The deeper science was sacrificed in the interest of keeping the boys engaged, Vivian and Fezile both gave amazing talks and got the kids involved in the topic of careers and protecting the planet and body.

So, we are on our way to another orphanage now. We are making up for some lost teaching time taken up by travel over the last few days. There are several more days planned here, and we will probably stay in Swaziland through monday evening, since there are so many orphanages we can teach in, and most of the schools are closed for the holidays across South Africa.

more in a day or two.

Jess, Fezile, Suzo, Hakeem, Bryan, Neema, Vincho, and Clement

Journal Entries

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Dec. 8, 2002

Well, here is the latest from Swaziland: Yesterday we went to an incredible children's village in southern swaziland called the SOS village. i guess they are very well funded and have orphaneges all over the world. the kids were healthy (although most were HIV+) and the place was clean and well taken care of. what a contrast to the other homes we have been to! any way we had over 80 children to teach and the age range was drastic.

Suzo and i made maps and paper airplanes with the youngest kids - 50 of them. we had so much fun with them.most of the children just want to be held and touched and they would do anything to crawl in to an open lap. the language barrier with these kids was great so clement's friend wandile translated and it all went beautifully. the rest ofthe gang took the older kids. there was much less of a language barrier with them and they had a great session.

Bryan used the baking soda, vinegar, balloon experiment and the kids had some really advanced ideas about where to find CO2. They addressed the carbon cycle and the oxygen cycle and led into talk on the envisronment. Hakeem jumped in with his new module which has been a great success as well. He is talking about waves and demonstrating light waves with  gyroscopes and sound waves by using a slinky. the kids seem to really get it and hakeem is hillarious. he will have to demontrate his wave dance for the team when he meets the rest of you!

They also did the molecule game - solids, liquids,and gasses. Neema did an HIV session where she used the white blood cell skit (this also deserves demonstration but it involves the TB kid attacking the two white blood cell kids and some tackling goes on - no body was hurt!) Viv and fezile did careers and the whole group was really excited by the end.

After SOS we returned to the Moccorkindale orphanage that the group went to this summer. Kelly, your friend no longer works there but all the kids remembered you!). they also remembered the rules etc. again, Hakeem's wave module was a big hit. some kids asked some cool questions about radio waves and hakeem was amazed. he has really taken to this and is pumped to raise some awareness in the black physicist community in america. this orphanage needs so much help. many of the kids are sickly and they are all eager to learn. the conditions here are tough,somne of the hardest we have seen. i am so glad that we stopped here b/c the kids really appreciated not being forgotten. we gave this school the backpacks that a p.45 client had donated and each kid got one. now they need some books to put into them....... Lastnight we were exhausted but miss usa was on the TV at the guest house so while suzo and i cooked dinner the group watched in eager anticipation. Suz bet Hakeem that miss turkey would beat out miss norway. sure enough. So Hakeem got suckered into taking the girls out to the Y2k dance club and shakin' it up with the Kenyans

Today we are headed to a home for recovering drug addicts, aged 6- 18. later we see another SOS orphanage in the capitol of Mbabane. Clement has been a wonderful host in swaziland and his friend wandile is a super-translator. he has been so incredible at engaging all the kids and getting the vibe right which is hard when you are translating the scale of the universe. hopefully wandile will join us again next summer. Hope all is well in the rest of the world. Congratulations Miss Turkey. Bryan sends a shout out, and Hakeem says whatsuuuuuuuuuuuup? He also asked to thank Kevin for the experience. He has no idea how lucky we are to have him around.Even if he has a nastier-dirtier sense of humor than, believe it or not, Eddie. more in a few days.

bye all jesso, fezo, neema, suzo, vivo, bryo, hakeem, clement, wandile and eddie

Journal Entries

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Dec. 10, 2002

I am at Joberg airport on the way home. Quick update before I fly and I will send a longer one from the windy city. First of all thank you all who funded this excursion. What an amazing group of kids.... Our last day in Swaziland (sunday), we visited a rehab center for kids under 19. We sat with a group of tough looking boys who said they only had 20 minutes for us. An hour later they were still asking wonderful questions, and we all felt that this is a group of children we must focus on. They are one step removed from continuing their education, they must re-enter their communities first. So, giving inspiration to learn and develop is even more important than ever with these boys. Fizile had a huge impact on them with his personal story and achievements. After the youth center we visited another SOS village. This group of kids was more deperate than any we had met yet. They clung to our legs and our arms and looked at us with such hunger.... The class here went amazingly well considering we could barley contain the energy in the classroom. Hakeem demonstrated sound waves by having one young girl call California on his cell phone and doing the wave dance. Again, huge hit. The HIV section was also amazing here because the children were not in the least shy about their questions and the White Blood Cell skit worked well to liven up the module. Monday was a travel day, sorry to leave Swazi, but eager to get to South Africa again, and see what we could find. The trip was longer than expected, so we saw no schools yeaterday. Today a friend of Vivo's from the World Summit took us into Soweto, and we set up a few visits for later in the week, visited a nursey in an orpahange, and then went to a youth center. At the youth center we did a very different class, due to the nature of the group. We only did modules and informal talks, and the e-team will return there for a more indepth science talk on thursday. My plane is boarding. Last note, we had a great Cosmos Ed meeting last night, and I will send the minutes on in a few days. Thank you all for the most amazing opportunity. This trip was a huge success, we saw hundreds of amazing children, we made great contacts, and we have develloped many new ideas for UAS 2003. Speak to you all soon. Jesso Jessica darrow

Journal Entries

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In Kenya, Cosmos Education Kenya is Registered Society No. 26710.
In the United States, Cosmos Education is a Project of The Tides Center, a 501(c)3 non‑profit organisation.
In England and Wales, Cosmos Education UK is Registered Charity No. 1100278
Cosmos Education Zambia is registered under the Societies Act in the Republic of Zambia, Registration No. ORS/102/35/3017.