My partner, Marlyn, and I began a partnership with Benjamin Franklin Science Corner in Paraguay this past October. The Science Corner hosted a series of science festivals throughout several cities this year and we were given the opportunity to be a part of the excitement. The goal of the festivals was to present science in a fun and engaging manner for students who are not fortunate enough to learn the material in school.
We cultivated a relationship via email and video chat with a group of five engineers. Marlyn and I quickly became familiarized with the education system in Paraguay. After some introductory conversations where we learned each other's strengths, we were given the task of displaying physics and chemistry concepts through simple experiments using materials that were easily accessible to the engineers in Paraguay. Each experiment that was displayed at the fairs required an intricate process to ensure the most successful outcome. My partner and I divided the work so that we each had very specific goals. My goal was to research and create science topics that would be exciting for students between the ages of eight and eighteen. Marlyn’s goal was to display the experiments chosen in the most engaging and creative way. After brainstorming ideas, we began the google hangouts to inquire about materials available and ideas for improvement. There was a good deal of back and forth communication before the final experiments were sent over to the engineers. The last step in the process was the troubleshooting, which took place after the experiments were created by the engineers.
The first festival took place in the city of Caacupé on October 25th. The engineers were able to find and hotspot in order for Marlyn and I to witness the fair live. Hundreds of young students were in attendance, testing the experiments we had created for the festival. The look of fascination on the students’ faces was exhilarating. The second fair took place on March 27th in Villa Hayes and the last one will be held in Villarrica on May 29th.
The most important source I can name is our mentor, Mr. Vk, who brought this project to us and has helped us tremendously along the way. Mr. VK is our number one source when it comes to communication with the engineers in Paraguay. He is cc’ed on all emails that are sent back and forth. He checks all work that is being sent over to the engineers before it is sent and always gives us his input. VK has also been a source for other sources that have come our way such as books and articles.
Claudia & other engineers @ the ben franklin science corner
Claudia, our main contact in Paraguay, works with a group of five other engineers at the Benjamin Franklin Science Corner. The BFSC has developed a partnership with the Franklin Institute, which is how my partner and I became involved. The BFSC is one of the organizations featured in the science fairs being held around the country of Paraguay. All of our science experiment proposals have been sent to Claudia and the group of engineers, who build the actual models and test all experiments before taking them to the fairs. We have had many google hangouts to help with experiment testing in any way we can and make any changes to the procedures or materials if necessary.
"Benjamin Franklin Science Corner - About - Google+." Benjamin Franklin Science Corner - About - Google+. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Jan. 2015. <https://plus.google.com/+BenjaminFranklinScienceCornerAsunci%C3%B3n/about?gl=us&hl=en>
The Benjamin Franklin Science Corner is the organization we are in communication with in Paraguay. Their mission is to bring science and technology to students who are not fortunate enough to get the experience in school. Most students in Paraguay are only in school for four to five hours a day and have no hands on science curriculum whatsoever. The Science Corner supports Paraguayan education by promoting science and technology among the youth and by promoting scientific education. The Benjamin Franklin Science Corner website has a blog and many photos that have aided us in our capstone process.
"Fun Cool Exciting Science Experiments for Children and Kids." Fun Cool Exciting Science Experiments for Children and Kids. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Jan. 2015. <http://weirdsciencekids.com/FunExperiments.html>
This source provides information about science experiments that will be used in our proposals to the engineers in Paraguay. The science fairs were organized with the intention of giving students around the area, who don’t have a strong science curriculum in their schools, the opportunity to get hands on science experience. This source provides many experiments that are simple and entertaining for the younger kids at the fair. The oobleck experiment was one of the most successful ones, despite the fact that it was one of the simplest ones. This source has brought many ideas to our attention, whether we use the specific experiment or not.
"Experimental Procedure." Experimental Procedure. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Jan. 2015. <http://www.angelfire.com/scifi2/physics600/procedure.html>
This source was used to create the Trebuchet for the first science fair and will be used again to better the second version of the model. We used this source only as a template for our model. The units we use here are different than the ones used in Paraguay, therefore we had to convert all units to the metric system. After doing that we also had to scale the original trebuchet down because size was a factor for the engineers. Although there were other procedures for trebuchets that we looked at, this source was the most comprehensive and specific one we found.
"Chemistry." Science Fair Projects, Ideas, and Experiments. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Jan. 2015.<http://www.sciencefairadventure.com/Chemistry.aspx>
This source was used for the ideas on Chemistry experiments. We had about four chemistry experiment proposals for the first fair. One was the shiny penny experiment which is always a classic for kids and very easy to show. The second, was also a simple one that involved the reaction between vinegar and baking soda. Another proposal was for an experiment that involved making slime, which is a great way to get students to do some very hands-on work in a fun way. The last one consisted of making saturated copper sulfate solution. The goal for many of these experiments was to create them using the most simple and attainable materials possible.
"Physics Science Fair Project Ideas." Physics Science Fair Project Ideas. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Jan. 2015. <http://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/Intro-Physics.shtml>
This source was used for the ideas on Physics experiments. We had about four physics experiment proposals for the first fair. The first one was building a parachute and using different shapes for the parachute to see the difference it would make. The second involved watching the motion of a trash bag filled with air. Another experiment was a water bottle toss, involving a water bottle with a poked hole in the cap. This experiment was a test of gravity. The last experiment, and my personal favorite was building a gyroscope using a bicycle wheel. The goal for many of these experiments was to create them using the most simple and attainable materials possible.
"Thinking about How to Evaluate Your Program? These Strategies Will Get You Started. Gajda, Rebecca & Jennifer Jewiss." Thinking about How to Evaluate Your Program? These Strategies Will Get You Started. Gajda, Rebecca & Jennifer Jewiss. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Jan. 2015. <http://pareonline.net/getvn.asp?v=9&n=8>
Although our capstone is not necessary building a program, we decided that there should still be some type of evaluation to ensure our work was making progress. This source gives information on the most effective ways of evaluating a program and much more. The source includes a clear outline of the steps needed in order to evaluate the program, it’s progress, and it’s effectiveness. The source enforces the fact that having a specific audience is essential. Quantity and quality are both factors that are explained in depth. Assessing outcomes, achievements and indicators is very important in maintaining success in a program.
"Designing a Survey." Designing a Survey. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Jan. 2015. <http://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project_ideas/Soc_survey.shtml>
This source will come in handy when making the surveys for the next fair. I wasn’t expecting to have to research this, I thought I could just create one but then it dawned on me that I’d never made one. I didn’t know where to start so I decided why not look it up? Sure enough I found many credible sites, but I chose this one because it is specifically based on creating surveys revolving around science courses and curriculums, which is exactly what I will be evaluating. This source gives me ideas on what questions to ask, as well as objectives to keep in mind and templates to use.
"The Popular Education News: What Is Popular Education?" The Popular Education News: What Is Popular Education? N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Jan. 2015. <http://www.popednews.org/newsletters/definitions.html>
This source is valuable in learning how we want to connect with the students at the fair. Although, we won’t be there with them we want projects they see to be as meaningful as possible. Our goal is that students learn some science in a much more interactive way then they are used to. Popular education is a collective effort, one that engages students and allows them to work together and participate in the material. Popular education begins with learning the students’ ability and knowledge, which is what we want to learn through the surveys we will be giving at the next fair.