Science Workshops for Students
by rania fahmy
I have a vision to spark the imagination and curiosity of students in Egypt, as well as foster creativity, teamwork, inventive thinking skills and science literacy amongst them. I have started this and have been doing it for the past seven years, with proven success, using my personal funding sources to provide fun, interactive and educational activities that instill a clear understanding and appreciation of physical sciences and how they affect the world around us. My ultimate goal is to make students love science in the hope that they will choose this path in the future and hence assist themselves to cultivate their minds into becoming young inventors. The project activities are typically divided into two components: 1. Science Shows and Workshops, each lasting for one hour and 2. The Invention Program. The shows are different from the workshops in that in the former, kids sit and watch while some are invited to participate in the segments. Shows serve between 40 to 60 students and target kids from age three to 12 according to the nature of each show. The latter, the workshops, are more interactive with material presented to each child. Workshops can serve only 20 to 25 students each session, but with much more one-on-one learning involved. Here, students are given time to think and do the activity either individually or within a group. They mostly learn though trial and error. Workshops evolve by nature to be thematic and may deal with specialized topics based on demand (they mostly cater to older elementary school students).
What we did
While the curriculum of the science workshops is basically the same for public and private educational institutions, it is through its delivery that the project plans to cater to the varying needs of its different audiences. The delivery of the workshops has had an important effect on how students receive and grasp the content. The way the workshop is structured, which items to present and which ones are presented first, what tools are used, the number of people in the audience, the place where the workshop is presented -- all these are variables that can be tailored to fit different audiences and cater to their special needs. So, while the curriculum of the workshop may be the same, it is the sensitivity of the trainer to choose how to set up the workshop to best suit the audience's needs.
Creative science education is lacking in public and private preschools and primary education alike, to varying degrees. This project plans to serve students of all financial backgrounds. In doing so the project may use revenues from some audiences to pay for similar activities provided to other audiences. Also, the project aims to target trainers through TOT workshops where they will be taught the means and methods of delivering such workshops to students to help institutionalize these activities in other neighborhoods in Cairo. Through the subsidy mechanism and the training of trainers, the project aims to make its activities more sustainable.