Workshop: Day 1 Afternoon

We sat down for a very filling lunch. I tried to speak to one of the participants sitting next to me, but wasn’t able to go very deep. I guess I’m still learning how to have a meaningful cross-cultural, cross-generational conversation here.

Meanwhile, my mind was racing because we had gotten through the activities faster than I had expected. Would I be able to fill the rest of the afternoon? Also, I wasn’t sure how people were engaging with the content overall. The 4-5 people who readily jumped to the front of the room to help prepare the flowers were clearly interested, but the majority of the others had been sitting back in their seats, where they could barely see what was happening.

We went back to the classroom (We are meeting in the Computer Lab, which is a nice room, but has no computers. They are being stored in another room temporarily. Hopefully that means that they still function, but just need to be brought out for any workshops/programs that come to use them. My intent in pointing this out is not to ridicule anything. In fact, improving such situations is not straightforward, as our D-Lab:Ed team discovered this summer. It’s just to say that if this is the level of equipment that the national venue for science programs and workshops has, you can imagine how little teachers themselves must feel that they have to work with.). I was so happy to discover that two people had left lunch early, wandered around outside, and brought back some more flowers for us to test! I’m not sure how far they walked, since I couldn’t find any in the immediate vicinity of the building.

more flowers

We tested a few of the new flowers. We also tried making litmus paper by dipping paper into the watery flower pigment. It didn’t work that well, but it was fun that people wanted to give it a try.

Last topic I wanted to cover for the day was electronics. This is something that has been mentioned to me by several folks as being a difficult topic. I decided that rather than demo how to build any particular circuit, I’d use a demo to describe what happens inside a circuit. Electrons flow through a circuit as beans being moved across bottle caps placed in a circle. Using manipulatives, we explored the function of different electronic components. A resistor reduces the flow of beans and a capacitor stores them. I didn’t have anything good planned for how to depict a diode, but people started jumping in with suggestions. One of the participants fashioned a slide+hinged door out of paper that would allow beans to come out one way, but not enter from the other way.

For this activity, I forced everyone to stand in a circle around the desk, so they all had to pay attention! But they were enthusiastic. I asked for volunteers to play the role of each component in our pretend circuit and go through what the electrons would do at each point. One of the ladies who was farther back, who probably couldn’t see very well, asked the lady in front of her (who was the capacitor), “Are you doing it?” She emphatically responded, “I am storing! I am storing!”

Finally, we finished by handing around the outline of the JHS science syllabus to each row of participants and asking them to circle the top three hardest topics for their teachers to teach. And mark whether it’s hard because of finding materials, understanding the concept, or knowing how to explain/teach it. This will help me select topics to cover for the rest of the workshop.






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