Thursday, October 1, 2015

Science Labs

It's Week 4 of the school term here in Malawi, and we are moving at full speed. I picked up an extra class this year, so now I teach ten periods of science a week between Forms 1, 2 and 3. (That's equivalent to 9th through 11th grade in the US System.)

We have a laboratory at my school so I try to make use of it as much as possible.

On Tuesday my Form 2 Physical Science students determined whether substances were acidic or basic using litmus paper. We tested vinegar, baking soda, Coca-Cola and milk.

Today my Form 1 Chemistry class used the lab to measure physical quantities. They measured the length of leaves using rulers, the time it took for an object to go from point A to point B using a stopwatch, and the volume of water in a graduated cylinder (called a measuring cylinder here).

We have a pretty well stocked lab, but usually only one or two of something. So I formed groups in all my classes and set up stations for them to rotate through. With my larger class of ~80 kids it is still a challenge, but it is so important for them to actually get to do these things and see them up close.

Tomorrow we will be using universal indicator to find the pH of different substances. Like all our chemicals, the indicator is expired, so I am going to try to test everything out first and see if it will still work. Usually it sort of works, but I have to make some adjustments. That's teaching in Malawi-- you have to be flexible and creative.

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