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Dec 2, 2014

STEPS Update - The Power of Community

Some STEPS 2014 participants
Some STEPS 2014 participants

When SoSA first held our STEPS workshops last year, we had 91 students from 11 primary and secondary schools attending. Thanks to you our donors, we more than doubled that this year with 188 participants from 21 primary secondary schools. Students were hosted by a fantastic team of SoSA volunteers in an advanced Biochemistry Lab at the Faculty of Medical Sciences at UWI, Mona in Kingston, Jamaica.

What was the result? We were able to excite and inspire many students with science. For that, you should take a bow. Thank you!

What did we do with all these kids? Well, we introduced our primary students to the fact that there are tiny critters (organisms) living in water that we cannot see with our naked eyes. These youngsters learned how to use light microscopes to see these tiny creatures, and were excited to see them move and squirm.

Science impacts our everyday lives, and students were fascinated by chemical reactions generated by common household items, some of which were acids and other were bases. The properties (different pHs) of these everyday substances resulted in colour changes in test tubes. How delighted were we to see the excitement on the students faces!

Finally, a bit of physics! This last experiment even excited our volunteers – by rubbing a piece of cloth on a spoon, we used static electricity to separate a mixture of salt from black pepper. The pepper rose from the salt mixture – like magic!

Importantly, our volunteers helped the students to think about all these observations, tying them back to everyday life, ensuring it was a complete learning experience.

Our secondary level students were likewise eager to be part of STEPS. Did you know that you can extract DNA from bananas using salt and dishwashing liquid? Well, our high school students are now experts at that!

We didn’t think it was too early to introduce our students to forensics, and they responded brilliantly. We presented them with a challenge: based on blood and DNA evidence found at the scene of a robbery - which of the four suspects was likely to have been involved in the crime? They examined various stains under the microscope to determine which ones were blood stains.

The thief in question had torn his/her shirt while fleeing the scene, leaving behind pieces of their shirt and blood. The students worked with simulated blood to determine what the blood type of the thief was. When we asked “who did it?” The students then figured out which of the four accused could was the guilty party.

STEPS is a story of all kinds of community. The SoSA membership - passionate about the change that science can bring to every age group in society, determined to use our skills to have a positive impact on humanity. And you – through the GlobalGiving community, seeing value in the work that we are doing and choosing to invest in our project.

To enable these youngsters to bring STEPS back to their schools with even more pride, we gave each of our participants’ badges. They are our now science ambassadors, empowered to help others think differently about science.

We like to think of each of you as integral to their success. Let's all become science ambassadors!

We appreciate your support on GivingTuesday...Thanks all around!

Your SoSA Team.

Revealing tiny critters using a microscope!
Revealing tiny critters using a microscope!
Can high schoolers extract DNA - Sure they can!
Can high schoolers extract DNA - Sure they can!
Are you a science ambassador?
Are you a science ambassador?
Sep 4, 2014

Full Speed Ahead for the STEPS Program!

Phase 4 team meeting
Phase 4 team meeting

Our Stem Talent Expansion through Promotion of Sciences (STEPS) program was birthed from the vision that young Jamaicans can transform their challenging environments and the world by embracing, pursuing and applying science. We are elated to report that this year’s STEPS science programs will not just continue, but will expand due to the generous support of all our donors – thank you!

Over the last three months we have been active in the organization of the science workshops for Primary and Secondary students. These will be held on November 20, 2014 on the campus of the University of the West Indies. STEPS is expanding by including more schools and students in this year’s workshops and adding exciting activities not only to engage Jamaican children in science, but empowering them to apply it. Our workshops this year will accommodate 200 students; this is a 100% increase over the capacity last year. Thanks to your generosity, we are also able to include schools not just from Kingston but also from St Catherine and St Ann.

We have also confirmed 43 scientists to participate in career days in 19 high schools – this will expand our reach into a number of schools in Jamaica. For these career days, we have also been preparing videos of ‘scientists in action’. These efforts will expose low-resourced students to the realm of career possibilities in the sciences.

Regarding our science lab construction project, we have received a proposal from a low-resource high school in Kingston with an established need for a science lab. Our committee chair and engineer have already conducted a site visit to explore feasibility.

As you can see, we are well on our way in establishing required partnerships and securing the participation of the relevant stakeholders for the successful and sustainable execution of our projects. Thank you for contributing to STEPS and we look forward to sharing highlights from our November workshop in the next report. We looked forward to your continued support, please continue to spread the word! 

STEPS laboratory manual examination
STEPS laboratory manual examination

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