Failure, that is what the first day of iNERDE camp in Dakar was. Our expectations were high but the outcome was a disaster. We only had six students and we didn’t make any impression on them. We had to let them go home earlier than expected because we couldn’t do much with the few students that we had. The whole day was nothing but a downward spiral.
Not to feel discouraged, we had a much better outcome on the second day of the camp. We doubled the number of students and we got them excited. We introduced them to Math, Science, and Technology, the subjects of STEM. We had them unleash their imaginations by starting a story and asking all of them to continue it using their imagination. By the end of the day, all the kids were familiar with each other and eager to come back the next day. We left with smiles on our faces. We had a better day.
We talked more about STEM and introduced the students to the engineering process. We got them to think about a problem and solutions to solve it. This got their minds running and enabled them to better understand the engineering process. Based on that activity, we introduced S.C.A.M.P.E.R. which got their creative thinking going. The students were put into two groups. Each group was given an image of an item. Based on S.C.A.M.P.E.R, the students were asked to use their imagination to innovate the item and make it better and more sophisticated. We chose a winner based of the presentation of the item and being able to convince us to buy their item. We ended the day surer of ourselves and at a better place.
The next day, we showed the students the different parts found in a toy car through the process of reverse engineering. We asked them to use their imagination in order to draw what they thought was found in a car that helps it run. After that, the students opened up the different electronic toys they had in front of them. They found out for themselves what was inside without us having to tell them. They came up with many suggestions to make the toys better and more efficient. We also introduced them to an important function in technology using computers. They were introduced to Microsoft Word and its many functions. We also introduced the projects that the students had to complete. They got really excited about the projects that they wanted to build everything thing on that day.
I believe that the last day of the week was a great day for the students. We got familiar with impromptu speaking. They got familiar with the projects they are to do and showed progress. We introduced a little Biology by talking about the human body. They were introduced to five different kinds of cells found in the body. After that we introduced them to DNA by doing an experiment on DNA extraction. We used an onion to help show the students how we can extract DNA from anything with a living cell. This experiment got them very excited and involved. By the end of the day, everything that they had learned was acted on and we could tell that we came along way from the first day of camp.
To summarize the whole week, we started real slow but by the end of the week we were flying. We achieved our goal of hitting the ground running and getting the students excited.