This year, our work in Kenya was based solely in Nairobi to allow us to visit more schools in less time. Cosmos Education Kenya had coordinated in advance with enough schools that we were visiting one or two every week day. They also organised transport and accommodation.
A photo gallery is now available.
We tried a new format this year with a set curriculum of subject matter to present and discuss with the students we met. Our focus was on Water, Health and the Environment. The material can be viewed here in pdf format. The aim was to craft a set of discussions, experiments and games to lead students through a set of related scientific ideas in a fun and interesting way.
Each school visit consisted of three main phases:
Overall the project went well with most of the students we met seeming to gain from the experience. The approach we took was fresh to them and provided a good opportunity to meet new ideas, and to approach familiar ideas from new perspectives.
Discussions during and after the period spent visiting schools concluded that while the new curriculum format did provide a welcome focus to the presentations, it lacked some of the benefits of flexibility and inputs from specialist individuals on the team of volunteers.
It was agreed that next year we would still have a group introduction and end session to each visit, but would have volunteers present material on their own specialist subjects. Careful selection and arrangement of sub-teams will allow every student to receive an interesting and balanced mix of subject matter.
We feel that year by year our techniques and practices are improving and it's exciting to be a part of this evolution.
Included below are two journal entries by one of our volunteers. They provide a good account of typical school visits.
Journal: Day 1
Lenana High (Boys) School
Monday 18th October, 2004
The Cosmos Education team left the camping site at around 13:00 hrs for Lenana High Boys School. The team was welcomed by the principal of the school, and every team member was introduced. The Principal then assigned the Deputy Principal to do the welcoming remarks and introduced the Cosmos Education team to the teachers and the students. The students assembled in the Chapel and there were about 750 of them, in different grades: forms 1, 2 and 3. It was surprising as, according to our plan we are supposed to handle not more than 120 students per session. The Principal thought that every student should participate because their school promote science and technology, hence the whole school had to be involved in the Cosmos activities (hands on experiments) at their school. It was going to be a fun challenge.
The Cosmos Education Global President, Kevin Hand, introduced the team to the students and emphasised the importance of science and technology to them. He opened up the students to the idea that the Earth is our home and that we should take care of it. When they were asked if they could do this, everyone shouted, "YES"!. The students were introduced to the Cosmos Education 3 rules that go along with our teaching (see curriculum), and we got started.
Since there were so many students, they were divided into five groups of approximately 150 in each group and each group was handled by 4-6 Cosmos team members: it was fun. By 14:30 hrs every group had started its lessons and the students were introduced to the three major themes of the curriculum which are Water, Health and our Environment.
On the topic of Water, the students were taught where water is found, how much water on the surface of the earth we are able to access and how water is formed. All this was done through hands on experiments. All the students were able to participate with few difficulties which gave every team member motivation.
Under Health, we looked at the microscopic world of living organisms i.e. cells and how we are able to know that they exist. We demonstrated to them how a microscope came about from a simple lens, how diseases are spread by bacteria and viruses and how these (bacteria and viruses) multiply with time (Exponential Growth).
Under the Environment, the students were taught the causes of pollution, the effects (which include global warming) and they all participated in the discussion on possible solutions.
After the three topics were covered, the students were assembled again in the Chapel and the final topic of the curriculum on career statements was done by the Global President. Every student was told to imagine himself 20 years from now. Kevin called out careers and the students stood up if their careers were called out.
The Global President thanked the students, teachers and the principal for their cooperation and went on to thank the Cosmos team members from Kenya, Zambia, UK and the USA. The student representative, thanked the Cosmos team members for their work well done.
We all closed in prayer by the school Chaplin. Before we left, some tea was served with the teachers.
Kenya High School
Wednesday, 20th Oct
Everyone was ready by 8:15 in the morning. The bus picked us up and we were chauffeured to the Kenya High school, one of the best performing schools in Kenya. We arrived at the school at nine and were welcomed by the teacher Mrs. Holli.
There was a group introduction of the team to the institution, then we introduced ourselves and talked of what we do, who we are, where we come from and our mission in this expedition. We then broke into groups and the different teams approached their session the best way they could then we went back for the group session on careers where a different approach was taken, the normal modules were done then Stella, Nicholas, Bridgit, Hakim, Martha and Peter (Cosmos Education team members from Kenya, US and Zambia) were asked to tell their life experiences as far as careers are concerned. Then the president wrapped up by reminding the students to work hard towards achieveing their goals after reiterating the advice given by the other volunteers to the students to remain focused, determined, have a vision and provide leadership to their vision.
This was a very successful visit especially because we received wonderful feedback from the students and teachers.
In Kenya, Cosmos Education Kenya is Registered Society No. 26710.