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Current Projects

Experimento

The Siemens Foundation Experimento project aims to provide teachers with the knowledge, skills and materials which could be used to invite learners to think independently and creatively using practical work. As a result of our close cooperation with the Siemens Foundation we were able to invite a number teachers we work with in school –based projects, in short courses or in the ACE programmes, to join the project. Having completed a series of training workshops, a number of teachers have now acquired an Experimento Box and supporting resources for their schools. GO TO http://www.siemens-stiftung.org/en/projects/experimento/

Siemens and the SDU support science education

The Siemens Foundation and SDU have partnered to roll out the Experimento Programme, an international teacher development programme in Cape Town schools throughout 2016.

The Experimento Programme has been funded and conceptualised by the Siemens Foundation, and is implemented in countries across Europe, South America and Africa. It has been supported by UCT’s Schools Development Unit (SDU) since November 2014.

The programme aims to provide teachers of grades R to 12 with the resources and information to teach science in a creative and engaging way so that learners are inspired through discovery and practical experience.

A synergy between the project’s outcomes, and the SDU’s purpose of equipping teachers with the skills to enrich science teaching, resulted in a partnership to execute short courses on innovative science teaching methods for teachers of various grades.

This year, teachers from five primary schools and six high schools in low-income areas of Cape Town are completing these courses.

“The effectiveness of this programme lies within the combined expertise and resources supplied by the Siemens Foundation, and the experience and relationships the SDU enjoys with schools in the Western Cape,” says Gillian Kay, an SDU science education specialist.

Initially, the SDU supported the programme by recruiting teachers to participate in the Siemens initiative. A pilot UCT accredited short course for high school science teachers emerged from this preliminary involvement. Since then the programme has grown and now includes two SDU-facilitated professional development programmes – 8+ for primary school teachers and 10+ for high school teachers.

These programmes consist of five sessions during which teachers interact with Experimento facilitators (experienced science teachers), and engage with the supplied resources required to execute meaningful and learner-centred science experiments.

Participants also learn co-operative learning strategies to implement in their science classrooms. These strategies impart teaching techniques that involve all learners in meaningful group work and shared learning opportunities.

The response from the programme’s participants is positive. Two teachers gave the following feedback: “A lot of extra and new knowledge has been gained in the teaching approaches to science,” and “In my school we lack basic resources but I found out that some of the things which are thrown away can be reused. The materials and resources helped a lot and will help us at our school.”    

 

“While the 130 experiments developed by the Experimento Programme show teachers what is possible, and are examples of best practice in science education, the SDU assists teachers to contextualise such resources and teaching techniques,” says Gillian Kay. “This helps the teachers to embed their learning in their unique classroom environments.”

School-based support, from SDU staff in the teachers’ schools, is therefore also an essential phase of the programme in ensuring that the science kits received during the programme are used effectively in the teachers’ daily teaching practice. The Siemens Foundation-donated science kits have also been utilised by SDU staff in other science teaching development initiatives.

On successful completion of an assignment and a written test, the teachers will receive UCT certificates for the short course. Of added benefit to them, is that they will receive professional development points from the South African Council of Educators (SACE), as part of the newly instituted professional development programme for teachers.

“The Experimento Programme is a practically relevant initiative underpinned by sound pedagogical theory in science education,” says Dr Jonathan Clark, Director of the SDU. “It is one of the many projects of the SDU which aim to improve the quality of teaching in South Africa, and to address the short falls in subject content knowledge and skills of teachers in a variety of teaching and learning contexts.”

   

Experimento                                                                  Experimento resources being used in ACT lecture

   Presentation of 1st UCT Experimento short course certificates 2015