Making Science Fun
It's always inspiring to see initiatives helping to improve the quality of education for Indonesian kids. It's even better to be a part of one of these initiatives. But best of all, to be involved in a project where junior high school students inspire their younger peers to get excited about studying science.
Kopernik is distributing science education toys to students in Indonesia through a continuing partnership with Benesse, an education company based in Japan. This month we distributed microscopes from Benesse to seventh grade students at Selemadeg 2 Junior High School in Tabanan, Bali. The most exciting thing about this project? This time we are proudly taking the back seat by letting 35 students from Masa Depan Cerah (MDC) Junior High School lead a class using the microscopes.
We began the fun on 9 April 2013 by training eighth graders from MDC Junior High School to use the toys. The students, who are based in Surabaya, arrived in Bali the day before as part of a science excursion. We brought the microscopes for them to try before leading the class for the younger students. It didn't take long for me to teach them since the microscope is very user-friendly and the students were used to using microscopes as part of their science curriculum at school.
The students spent most of their time practicing how to lead the class. We then closed with a short feedback session on how to improve their teaching performance. It was a really good training session. I was impressed that they even developed student handouts themselves for the class. Victor, one of the students chosen to be the class "teacher" was a bit shy at first, but he and the other students were very attentive during the feedback session. I was confident that they would do a great job teaching their fellow students in Bali.
Victor explains about the parts of microscopes to his friends from MDC Junior High School
Christal led the feedback session of how to improve students teaching performance
We returned to Tabanan on 11 April for the main event. Reaching the school took two hours from Kopernik's office Ubud, driving along very narrow and bumpy roads. The school has limited access to teachers, let alone teaching aids. For instance, there are only three science teachers for 107 students. Like most schools in Indonesia, there is no science laboratory. The entire school has access to only one very old microscope. It is rarely used because, as an important asset of the school, the microscope is treated as a very exclusive device and has to be used very carefully. Through this project, many students will be able to regularly use microscopes in their science classes.
Now, moving on to the fun part! The class started at 8.00am. When we arrived, 34 seventh grade students were ready for an interactive science class using the microscopes. The MDC Junior High students were doing a terrific job handling the class! They started with three students leading the ice-breaker game, which was a trivia quiz about science. It was a great warm-up activity for the class. We then moved on to introducing the microscopes. Victor was in charge, giving a brief explanation in front of the class. The other eighth grade students assisted the seventh grade students who sat next to them. This arrangement worked very well. With only 90 minutes for the class, it was very important to be efficient and organized. The students had to look up four objects under the microscope: onion skin, leaf, ant, and cotton.
Two students from Selemadeg 2 Junior High School are looking up objects under the microscope
Once they could see the magnified objects clearly, they drew what they saw on the student handout. They also had to write the step-by step process of conducting the experiment using the microscope. After they submitted the handout, the older students wrapped up the class with another fun game.
A student is helping another younger student to fill out the science task
A student is drawing what he saw under the microscope
I have really enjoyed being involved in this project, especially because it is the first time Kopernik has worked with students teaching other students. Inspiring students to get excited about studying science is not always easy. It is an ongoing process that goes beyond the effort of teachers alone. Seeing students working together to enrich each other's knowledge was such an effective way to learn, and I'm sure they all benefitted from the experience.
The students were teaching and learning
It reminded me of a quote I recently read, "Knowledge increases in proportion to its use - that is, the more we teach the more we learn."