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Microscopy & Science Workshops 2016

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2016 Workshops for Gambian Teachers

Pageant has been running Practical Science and Microscopy Workshops for eight years. [see summary of previous workshops] The benefits of the practical approach to teaching science have been recognised by the authorities, particularly Gambia College (the Gambian Teacher Training college). This is our second year of a five year programme to assess the benefits of these workshops. The workshops are being run at three schools, as part of a Gambia College initiative to quantify the improvement in Science results when there is a significant amount of practical teaching during the school year. If we can demonstrate that the workshops feed through into improved results in schools, then the system could eventually become state funded and adopted across the whole of The Gambia.

The Pageant Workshop Team this year consists of Kathy, Andrew and Helen Groves, Bob Skipper, Michal Przydacz, Pippa and Ian from UK, plus our Gambians - Abdoulie, Wandifa and Yankuba. Helen and Michal are both PhD students at Imperial College. It is Michal's first visit to The Gambia and he said he was looking forward to his trip immensely, particularly the workshops.

Format of the Workshops

As in 2015, the workshops were whole-day events at the same three schools as in 2015; Pirang BCS & SSS on 6 February, Jambanjelly BCS on 11 February and Presentation of Mary BCS on 13 February. These schools were chosen as they are conveniently close to Gambia College, but teachers attending came from many parts of The Gambia. Pageant provided instruction in four topics - Microscopy, Physics, Chemistry and Electronics. Special booklets were written to accompany each subject - Bob having just written the Chemistry one in preparation for this trip. 20 booklets on each topic and a considerable amount of equipment were left at the schools at the end of the workshops.

In each school, participants were split into two groups. In the first morning session of 2 hours, Group A did Microscopy and Chemistry in one room, while Group B did Physics and Electronics in a second room. Different experiments on each topic were set up in each room with the teachers split into pairs or threes to visit each 'station' in rotation. In the second morning session the groups swapped over, so all teachers got the opportunity of doing a variety of experiments in all four topics. The afternoon session consisted of feedback from both groups together, after which certificates were presented to all teachers satisfactorily completing the day's work.


Specimen Certificate

Other tasks during the visit

The Pageant team also gave some less formal practical sessions to senior students at St Augustine's SSS on 9 February and St Joseph's SSS on 11 February. There was, of course, time for visiting families and friends, a little sunbathing for some and bird-watching for Bob.

Once the rest of the workshop team had gone back to UK, Pippa and Ian resumed giving out sponsorship money and giving sponsored children letter forms so they could write to their sponsors. They also checked on a number of Pageant's projects, and visited the Gambian branch of the Medical Research Council. 

One big change for the Pageant team this time will be the hotel. The Atlantic, which has been our Gambian 'home' for so many years, is currently closed for an extended period of refurbishment. So, in November 2015, several Pageant members visited a number of other hotels and after much discussion settled on the Sand Beach Hotel in Kotu. This is a new hotel, only opened this year, but the rooms and staff seem to be delightful so there are high hopes of a good stay. So far their reports have been very positive.

Follow the news on the Pageant Blog

As previously, members of the Pageant team have been posting and continue to post news about the Workshops and other aspects of their visit on the Pageant Blog. The local WiFi has proved unreliable, so 'plan B' has been used  - emailing text and photos to the webmaster for posting. For you convenience, these posts are being collected on this website page.

How you can help

Pageant needs to provide the teaching kits and manuals for each of our annual series of workshops - typically 30 each for each of the four topics. We also need to cover shipping costs for some of these items. Each set of workshops costs in the region of 4,600, so please consider making a donation to help us with these costs.

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.

Another way you can help is by purchasing an Electronics Teaching Kit or a Physics Teaching Kit from our list of Ethical Gifts.

Pageant is a UK Charity - Registered No 1093963