Nat Geo Project

Edutab Africa collaborated with National Geographic on a project pilot initiative. The main aim was to introduce children to the world of microbiology and research as they observe and learn about the hidden gems of Nature through a pocket-friendly microscope called a Foldscope. The Project reached eight schools and one community library. A total of 398 learners were directly reached through the science clubs in schools through the work of the 28 teachers involved, and an additional over 2000 learners were indirectly reached.

Background

Challenges

Some of the challenges faced are the accessibility of foldscopes, which are relatively new to the country with no distributor in East Africa, thus shipping them from the United States. Also, a lack of organised foldscope communities was a challenge in developing learning resources, being that it was the  first time in kenya that they were accessible, unlike some countries like India,Europe and America, which have foldscope communities

To improve and promote learners’ curiosity in nature and research, Edutab Africa designed  an innovative approach to bringing the world of science and microfauna to primary and secondary students to help bridge their personal learning experiences to a more global perspective about science and exploration. The approach involved introducing the students to microscopy, bringing the invisible world to reality. This was done through the use of Foldscopes, a paper-based portable origami microscope with a magnification power of x140 and up to x1000 times when used together with a phone camera. This was done through project-based learning (PBL) materials that were developed with context-specific knowledge as per the characteristics of the learners grade levels.

Solution

Results

Different Strategies for storytelling about science and education for various public audiences, particularly on the web and social media, were adopted as they increased in the Foldscope community, particularly in Africa. An increase in interest in innovative ways of learning for not only children but also teachers and parents/guardians in ways to assist them in implementing project-based learning activities. In addition, using foldscopes in school is flexible for each student to at least observe and view a specimen, unlike when they use a normal microscope at school, where not everyone gets in touch with it, plus the clearness of images, as through the foldscope one can take pictures and project them for every learner to see.

 

“The images provided in some of the textbooks used at schools don’t give a clear view as compared to the Foldscope. The ability to take pictures of specimens with mobile phones provides a good opportunity for students to learn better and to explore beyond what the syllabus offers.” Science teacher Lenana School

Some of the key learnings include the importance of collaborative development of learning resources. By involving teachers in the process, the project successfully developed and implemented 10 context-specific learning resources for primary and secondary schools. This collaborative approach ensured that the resources were relevant and effective for the targeted age group (7-17 years) and could be easily adopted and scaled globally. The involvement of 28 teachers empowered them with resource materials that enhanced their day-to-day teaching practices. Additionally, establishing teacher learning circles facilitated knowledge exchange, curiosity, and an exploratory mindset among educators. The project’s efforts in fostering a growing foldscope community, leveraging science communication tools, and establishing a Foldscope Resource Center at Kongoni Community Library further amplified its impact. The project’s success has garnered interest from various stakeholders, including parents, school administrators, local leaders, and government officials, highlighting the growing interest in innovative learning approaches.

Key Learnings