STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics) in the Tanzanian education system is really poor. Most schools don’t have resources to teach science in a meaningful way: basic electrical components and tools, computer labs, and practicals are rare in schools and in the curriculum. However, there’s an immense curiosity of the students for that and here at Twende, we believe that STEAM topics without hands-on activities don’t have the impact they should have on students, leaving many students missing out on many opportunities STEAM offers.
Twende Teaching Electronics
As you probably know, Twende offers Creative Capacity Building trainings. This past April, Twende delivered its first electronics CCB workshop. In early March, I joined Twende, and Chris Mushi, long-time instructor and innovator at Twende who is responsible for the electronics workshops, as an electronics fellow to work on this new programme.
Last year, Twende conducted its first workshop introducing LEDs and basic circuitry to secondary school students aged 16 and 17. Twende’s electronics team goes to a school with basic components like LEDs, resistors, switches, potentiometers and 9V batteries and teaches very basic current and voltage knowledge as students make very simple electronics circuits. For most if not all schools, it is the first and only time students see components outside the books, and the way their eyes light up when they light up their first LED shows how useful these workshops are.
This year, the goal was to get deeper with the same students – in both electronics capacity and insight to the design-thinking philosophy. We decided to bring the students to Twende for a three-day workshop; no (school) teacher and an entire workshop with tools to encourage learning through making something useful.
During the first session, students made a flashlight, designed by Chris, with a very basic circuit of LEDs, resistors, batteries, and a home-made switch. The housing of the flashlight, made out of basic water pipes and recycled plastic bottles, was also interesting to build, and students learn how to use some tools and how to make with available resources. Students learn how to solder (usually for the first time), make their own torches, and bring them home to use.