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Workshops for Gambian Teachers

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Pageant's Practical Microscopy, Science and Creative Writing Workshops

Gambian school children learn their science from the blackboard - most of them never see or use any practical equipment due to lack of funds for such resources. As well as lacking practical science facilities, almost none of the schools had access to microscopes. Pageant has therefor been running workshops for Gambian teachers and trainee teachers to show them how to give practical science lessons in schools which often lack facilities such as mains electricity and running water. As well as our workshops with a science theme, there was also a Creative Writing Workshop in 2012, which aimed to stimulate creative thinking and enhance the English vocabulary of Gambian teachers. This page summarises all our workshops.

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How it all started



Pippa Howard, being a microscopist, distributed a number of microscopes to three Gambian schools in October 2002. These microscopes were partly sponsored by the Royal Microscopical Society and a further ten microscopes were fully sponsored by the RMS in February 2003.

Members of the EMUS SEM user group then sponsored prizes for the best drawings of things seen under these microscopes, so Pageant organised some Microscopy Competitions.
[more about 2003 Microscopy Competition]
[more about 2005 Microscopy Competition]

student using a microscope at a school which recieved one

In 2005, Pageant member Frances Boswell, then a student at Collyer's Sixth Form College in Horsham, was visiting The Gambia, and decided to try to do something about the lack of practical science teaching. She enlisted the help of Collyer's Head of Science & Maths, Joe Brock, to devise practical science teaching equipment specially for The Gambia. Collyer's was awarded Beacon Status for Science in 2006. The school works on initiatives including the production of teaching units and resources. Joe developed teaching kits for The Gambia and also wrote a teachers manual Teaching Practical Physics Anywhere. This manual has been joined by Teaching Electricity Anywhere, written by the Students of Collyer's. Joe's book and methods now form the basis for Institute of Physics teacher training projects in a growing number of African countries.

Practical Physics Workshops 2006

Frances and other Pageant members put together the teaching kits, before taking them to The Gambia in February 2006 for 'pilot' workshops, where the kits were demonstrated to both staff and students at Gambia SSS in Banjul and Essau SSS on the North Bank.

The workshops demonstrated four topics: radioactivity - simulated using lots of dice, frictionless motion - using a CD hovercraft, waves - using a long spring, and finally a water rocket.

[more information about 2006 physics workshops]

the radiation experiment at a science workshop

Practical Physics Workshops 2007



Pageant held its first full Practical Physics Workshops for Gambian science teachers in February 2007. The one-day workshops were held in schools and colleges in widely spread locations; Bakalarr BCS, Essau SSS, St Augustine UBS, Sinchu Baliya LBS, Gambia SSS and GTTI. They were staffed by Joe Brock, various Pageant members and students from Collyer's, with Collyer's providing much of the equipment and funding. The topics were chosen from the 73 listed in Joe's book. Favourites were levers and masses, waves, hydraulics and finally the water rocket.

[more information about 2007 physics workshops]

pendulum and simple harmonic motion at a science workshop

Microscopy Workshops 2010

Following on from the 2003 and 2005 Microscopy Competitions, Pippa decided to organise Microscopy Workshops similar in format to the Science Workshops. The aim was for teachers to fully understand how to get the most benefit from using microscopes, and then pass on their practical skills to their students.

The impact of these Microscopy Workshops is immense. If each teacher interfaces with just 200 pupils, then in the course of one set of workshops, we will have introduced practical microscopy to 8,000 children.

In 2009, Pageant was awarded 3,000 by the Royal Microscopical Society Vice President’s Fund. This, together with other donations, enabled Pageant to run first Microscopy Workshops in February 2010.


Practical Physics Workshops 2011



Pageant's second Practical Physics Workshops were held in February 2011, utilizing an incredible donation of 13,000 worth of educational science equipment from Technology Supplies Ltd. The workshops were held over three days at Gambia College, with four topics on each day. The students were split into four groups of six, and rotated between the topics, so that by the end of the workshops, they had all studied all twelve topics. The topics were measurements, motion, pressure, dynamics, gravity, light, heat energy, waves and sound, electricity, magnetism, strength of solids and solar energy.
[more information about 2011 physics workshops]

Joe with student teachers at a physics workshop

Creative Writing Workshops 2012

The Creative Writing project was started by the late Julie Laslett and Caroline Webster, after a holiday in The Gambia in January 2011. They were struck by the absence of any creative writing in the schools’ curriculum, despite all teaching being in English. They decided to create a resource specifically for The Gambia, aimed at stimulating creative thinking and enhancing the vocabulary and context of the written word.

Caroline and Julie delivered a series of one-day workshops to teachers and trainee teachers in January 2012, aiming to assist teachers in understanding and writing short stories, and learning how to use the resource with pupils in their own classroom.


Microscopy & Science Workshops 2012

In 2011 Pageant was again fortunate enough to be awarded 3,185 from the Royal Microscopical Society Vice President's Fund. This was used as the basic funding for our second Microscopy Workshop. We were also fortunate to receive a magnificent donation of 50 of their MS-2 student microscopes from Motic Europe, and 20 Olympus and Philip Harris microscopes from Tyne Metropolitan College.

microscopy workshop 2012
science workshop 2012

The Microscopy Workshops were held concurrently with Science Workshops over four days at Gambia College. Previous Science Workshops had concentrated on Physics, but were now expanded to include Chemistry. The four science topics were Moments, (including Newton's Laws of Motion & Hydraulics), Chemistry, Radioactivity, Electricity and Waves (including Sound & Light). 80 student teachers attended, each of them spending one day at the Microscopy Workshop and one day at the Science Workshop.
[more information on 2012 workshops] & [Chris Robertson's posts from the Pageant News Blog]

Microscopy & Science Workshops 2013

Pageant's Microscopy Workshops in The Gambia are now established as an annual event. In February 2013, a Pageant team ran a series of Microscopy Workshops, and also a Chemistry Workshop.

There is no actual web page covering the 2013 workshops, but posting were made on the Pageant News Blog, and we have collected them onto a web page.

[collected blog posts 2013 workshops]

A typical view of the class

Microscopy & Science Workshops 2014



In February 2014 a Pageant team once again ran a series of Microscopy Workshops. These have now become so routine that there is little new to say about them.

Again there is no web page, but team members managed to make some postings on the Pageant News Blog despite considerable difficulties accessing the internet. Once more we have collected these postings onto a web page.

[collected blog posts 2014 workshops]

Hopefully planning the lesson for the children!

Microscopy & Science Workshops 2015

In February 2015, Pageant once again ran Practical Microscopy and Science Workshops for Gambian school teachers. The 2015 workshops are the start of a five year project in collaboration with Gambia College. Three schools close to Gambia College will be studied to assess the benefits of such workshops. If there is a positive outcome, then the workshops concept could be adopted and funded by the Gambian state school system.
[more information about 2015 workshops]   [collected blog posts 2015 workshops]

Microscopy at Misera BCS

In November 2015, Pageant gave some microscopes and hand lenses to Misera Basic Cycle School. One of the science teachers, Mr Baldeh, had previously attended one of Pageant's microscopy workshops, so he was ideally suited to teach microscopy in the school, together with Mr Bah. Have a look at our Microscopy at Misera page for a good example of what happens after teachers have attended Pageant's workshops.

Microscopy & Science Workshops 2016

In February 2016, Pageant ran Practical Microscopy and Science Workshops in collaboration with Gambia College. They were held at the same three schools as in 2015, and formed the second year of the five year programme to assess the benefits of such workshops. This web page summarises the 2016 workshops, and ther is more about the workshops on these posts collected from the Pageant Blog

Microscopy Workshops 2017

A Pageant team ran Microscopy Workshops at Gambia College on 24 and 25 February 2017. On each day, 20 student teachers were given instruction in the use of different types of microscope. At the end of the workshops 10 student teachers were selected to receive a microscope and ancilliary items to take with them to their first teaching job.

We do not have a dedicated page for these workshops, but you can find out more about them from posts which the team made on the Pageant Blog. These posts have been collected together on a web page and this link takes you to the posts about the workshops.

2017 microscopy workshops in progress

RMS scheme to recycle unwanted microscopes

The Royal Microscopical Society has a scheme to recycle and refurbish unwanted microscopes. These can be sold to help fund their Outreach Project, or given to projects such ss Pageant's Microscopy Workshops.
[read more about the RMS scheme]

Make a donation to help Pageant run our Workshops

PAGEANT could not fund these regular large scale events without financial assistance. On two occasions, money from the RMS Vice President's Award has made a significant contribution to Microscopy Workshops. For both Microscopy and Science Workshops, we plan to send participating teachers away with equipment, teaching kits and handbooks, so that they can apply the skills they have learnt back in their own schools. We have had several generous donations of microscopes, as well as substantial discounts when we purchase them. Items for teaching kits must be purchased and handbooks printed. We have included the Electronics Teaching Kit and the Physics Teaching Kit in our list of Ethical Gifts, so you can help to fund our workshops by purchasing these.

The impact of our workshops is immense. With three workshops involving 20 teachers each, and each teacher interfacing with perhaps 200 children, we could improve practical science teaching for around 12,000 children. The 2016 workshops mark the second year of a 5-year programme in collaboration with Gambia College, which aims to demonstrate the effectiveness of such workshops. A positive outcome could mean incorporation of these workshops into the Gambian state education system. Pageant will be providing equipment, manuals and training throughout the programme, so we will need your help with donations over the next few years. You can donate online using your credit or debit card:

Click this 'Donate' button to make a donation to help Pageant with the costs of upcoming Science and Microscopy Workshops. This takes you to a BT MyDonate page, where you should click on 'Donate now'. Donations will be kept separate and used only for our Workshops Programme in this and future years.

Alternatively you can send a cheque by post to Pippa Howard. Old School, Worthing Road, Southwater, Horsham, West Sussex. RH13 9DT, UK. Please write 'Workshops' on the back of the cheque. Also if you are a UK taxpayer, please send us a Gift Aid form to allow us to reclaim UK Tax. Gift Aid allows Pageant to claim an extra from the taxman. Our Gift Aid Form is available in Microsoft Word or PDF format.

Pageant is a UK Charity - Registered No 1093963