Chapter 29: Hosting Science Events
There are many great ways to promote math and science education through engaging activities for students and teachers alike. These can be done regularly through extracurricular clubs, but can also be organized together as part of a larger Science Day event or multi-day Math and Science Conference. What follow are some general tips and suggestions for hosting some of these various activities.
29.1 Box of Fun
The Box of Fun can be used as a teacher training exercise or as a student challenge.
- Gather an assortment of everyday materials (see Sources of Laboratory Equipment, p. 208) and arrange them randomly across a table or in a large box.
- Ask participants to use the materials given to demonstrate some topic or principle in a subject of their choice (Biology, Chemistry, Physics or Math).
- You may choose to put participants into groups and designate a specific subject for each group.
- After at least 30 minutes, have groups come up to present their idea.
- Additionally, you may ask groups to fill out an activity template (see Shika Express companion manuals) to document their ideas.
The Box of Fun is intended to foster participants’ creativity and encourage them to see science in the world around them. Rather than thinking first of a topic and then deciding what materials are needed to show it, this activity encourages teachers to first look around and see what is available to them, and then to think about how those things might be used to demonstrate some concept in science.
CAUTION: It may not be wise to assign specific topics to participants, as this can limit their creativity and may lead them to “destroy science” by pretending a local substitute gives the same result as a traditional lab material when it really doesn’t (e.g. pretending food colour is iodine because they have similar appearances).
The purpose of using locally available materials is that they help to connect students to their everyday environment while still achieving the same results as expensive lab equipment. However, if a local material does not give the same result, it should NOT be substituted merely for the sake of using local materials.
29.2 Shika Express Gallery Walk
This activity can be used to share ideas of science demonstrations among students and/or teachers.
- Choose 4-6 activities or demonstrations for each subject (see Shika Express companion manuals for Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Math).
- Prepare the demonstrations and arrange them across a set of tables, 1-2 tables per subject.
- Spread the tables out evenly around a large empty room (e.g. dining hall).
- Divide participants into equal groups based on the number of subjects being presented.
- Have groups rotate among the different subject tables so that they are able to observe all demon- strations for each subject (approx. 15-20 mins per subject).
- Following the rotations, give 20-30 mins to allow participants to return to a demonstration of their choice for further investigation or to construct it themselves.
- You may wish to have 1-2 student or teacher leaders for each subject to help explain the demon- strations during the rotations.
- Make copies of activity write-ups from the Shika Express manuals for each demonstration that participants can read as they walk around.
- Allow participants to perform the demonstrations themselves as much as possible, and then ask them to explain what they see.
29.3 Science Fair
Science Fair projects provide a great opportunity for students to apply their knowledge and investigate their interests in science.
- Have interested students form groups of 2-3.
- Groups select a project idea based on a shared interest or question/problem to address. Encourage students to think about what problems or issues are faced in their own communities.
- Review the steps of The Scientific Procedure (see example activities on p. 152). Have students identify the problem and form a hypothesis for their project.
- Allow several weeks for groups to work on their projects (provide additional books or computer resources if available).
- When completed, allow students to set up and explain the various projects around the school for all students to see.
- Encourage students to apply to participate in the national Young Scientists Tanzania (YST) com- petition (www.youngscientists.co.tz) in Dar es Salaam.
29.4 Science Competitions
Perform individual competitions or many strung together over the course of a day or weekend. For more, see the section on Science Competitions (p. 145).
29.5 Science Day
Engage the entire school (or multiple schools) by combining several activities into a Science Day event.
- Invite a guest speaker to speak on career opportunities in math and science (e.g. accountant, engineer, doctor, nurse, carpenter, mechanic, store owner, etc.)
- Explain applications of math and science in all walks of life (e.g. farming, buying/selling, health/disease, transport, weather, drinking water, football, etc.)
- Incorporate Science Competitions - elect 1 or 2 teams from each Form to compete, with the rest of the school as an audience.
- Incorporate Box of Fun and Gallery Walk activities. It may be helpful to do the Gallery Walk first to provide examples to participants.
- Encourage girls’ empowerment wherever possible.
- Give out a survey to gauge students’ perception of science.
A Science Day event may not guarantee immediate improvements in test scores, but it shows students that the school and its teachers are not willing to give up on math and science, and neither should they! Continued promotion of math and science will help to change students’ perception of the subjects that they may initially write off as being too difficult. Excitement and interest is the first step in changing that perception.
29.6 Math and Science Conferences
Gather students from several nearby schools to hold a special week-long Math and Science Conference in a nearby town or at a host school.In addition to those ideas presented for a Science Day event,
- Incorporate HIV/AIDS and malaria into science demonstrations/activities (see Shika Express companion manuals for ideas).
- Have students prepare Science Fair projects over the course of the conference and present on the final day.
- Give award certificates for participation and prizes for individual/team competitions.
Math and Science Conferences encourage leadership among their participants. Students attending such events are likely to be good ambassadors of science, sharing what they have done and learned with fellow students back at school. Those students may then try to improve their own performance in those subjects so that they can attend a similar event later on.
29.7 Teacher Trainings
Conferences can also be directed towards improving teacher performance by conducting the suggested activities at a nearby Teacher’s College.