The Adventure Continues: A Week of Teaching and Exploration

Hello everybody! We’ve completed two full weeks here in Tanzania, and it’s hard to believe we’re approaching the halfway point of our journey. Here is a quick summary of what we’ve been up to:

On Monday, we traveled to Moshi with Tesha, Mary, and Lorelle where we met with Foot2Afrika, the organization we will be staying with and working the most closely with when we move our operation to Moshi for the last two weeks of our trip. They informed us that we will be working with another local school in Moshi as well as helping coach Foot2Afrika’s new youth soccer program. After meeting with Foot2Afrika, we met with representatives from the Amani’s Children Home. Here we learned about Amani’s mission and how they operate, in addition to receiving a tour of their facility. They also laid out some possible future projects such as a child database system and a monitor system to display relevant metrics about the children’s home in the waiting area. After discussing all these topics, the team had time to play soccer with the children.

During week 2, we got more in-depth with our teaching at both primary schools as well as the secondary school. At the primary schools (Nkwamakuu and Kilingi), we taught 6th and 7th grade math and science. The math topics that we covered included exponents, radicals, factoring/factor trees and algebra. The science topics included circuits, renewable energy, simple machines, the skeletal and muscular systems, and other various systems in the body. The feeling of teaching younger students and seeing them solve problems correctly is very rewarding. Teaching also gives us a greater respect for all teachers. It is a very mentally and physically draining job, especially teaching younger children. You must teach them the basic school subjects, but you are also acting as a role model for them. We have also been working with Orkolili Secondary School. We have been working alongside the students by helping them with various projects for their science fair. We also taught physics and chemistry lessons in Form 2 (sophomores). Putting our Pavlis-learned skills to good use, we were brought into a classroom of Form 1 students (freshman) and told to teach whatever we wanted to. We decided to engage the kids in some leadership games and activities. They really seemed to enjoy what they learned through these activities, and we eventually began discussing the differences and similarities between cultures. It brought us closer together in a world where we physically lived so far away.

As mentioned, during our visit to Orkolili Secondary School last Friday, we assisted the students and teachers in brainstorming and prototyping different projects for their upcoming science fair. Last year, they took first place overall in the fair with their explanation and demonstration of how to make usable paper from maize by-products. This year, the ideas ranged from automatic bells and gate openers, to robotic cars, to biology-chemistry crossover projects. The students decided to focus on two different projects: a micro-computer-controlled automatic bell to signal class changes, lunch time, etc., and a project demonstrating and explaining the uses of the extraction of nanocellulose from maize fibers. The automatic bell got off to a great start: the students were very handy in the workshop for the mechanical portion of the design, and had great ideas for how all the mechanisms would work. There were a few hiccups with finding the correct driver for the micro-computer on their computer lab PCs, but it was eventually worked out. The only piece of equipment the nanocellulose project was missing was an ultrasonic homogenizer. A blender was substituted in its stead, and after a quick fix to a broken fuse, the students got to work boiling the maize fibers in sulfuric acid; the first step of the extraction process. All in all, it looks like the students will be well prepared to perform well at the fair this week, and we were glad we could assist!

Our adventures this past weekend led us to Mt. Kilimanjaro, which we had first gotten a glimpse of last Monday. The path we took never looked too challenging, except when we remembered that we were climbing to 9000 feet above sea level (the air was a little thin!). We walked through amazing rainforest and other interesting foliage for most of our journey; at lower altitudes, we were even sharing the path with some cute monkeys. Our guide Salym was awesome: a friend of Joe (the energetic English teacher at Orkolili Secondary school), who connected Salym with us for this excursion. Due to the usual cloud cover around the upper heights of Kilimanjaro, we were unfortunately unable to see the peak once we reached our destination of the first climber’s camp. We are grateful to have already seen it earlier in the week, when it wasn’t so cloudy. Several of us have commented that we will be coming back to Tanzania to climb the mountain in full.

An additional note to include: we have yet to encounter any injuries worth mentioning, and we hope to keep it that way (*fingers crossed*).

Thank you very much for reading and keeping up with our adventures! We will be sure to continue writing blog posts approximately weekly; we’re excited to see what excitement we encounter next!

Team Tanzania 2017

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