Mar 6, 2017

Making Exciting Progress on our Science Mobile Laboratory

Launch of the Lab
Launch of the Lab

We are thrilled at the progress we are making with is project and with how it is beginning to take shape.  With the funding we have received so far and the current political situation in Zimbabwe we will be running the Mobile Laboratory from May on a smaller scale than initially planned.  It does not mean that this will always be how the lab is run.  Our reasons for this are two fold - full funding for the whole, far reaching project, is yet to be secure and the current economic situation in Zimbabwe makes logistics on the ground a little more tricky. BUT we are thrilled by this as we feel this gives us time to really see how this model works, test out our teaching material and techniques, gain feedback from students etc.  We are excited at the launch of the lab in this way and to see a great resource accessed by such worthy students. 

 

How will this pilot model work?

We will be running a full Saturday programme of experiments (2 to 3, 2 hour sessions).  The workshop will be a 12 week commitment, working on 6 weeks of Biology Practicals initially and moving onto 6 weeks of Chemistry Practicals.  The students will come to the Resource Centre each Saturday and attend one session - this session will be run two to three times a Saturday impacting 45 students.    

There will be a total of 15 students at each session - 45 students.  We will be targeting only Form 3 students, so that they are able to do the practical work before the pressure of their examination year is upon them.  To assist with the income for these sessions we will be using the GlobalGiving Funds donated, as well as the small fee charged to each student ($5 for 12 weeks) this helps the students commit to the programme and another income avenue.  

The proposed other income revenue we will be exploring the possibility of offering 5 to 10 of the places to Home School community students who will pay $10 per lesson.  This will be a wonderful opportunity for students from different backgrounds to come together but also provide a valuable resource to the homeschool community.  A win, win for both parties!

 

What we are working on at the moment?

We are currently putting final touches on the Biology experiments - these have all been written up, edited and now have been passed onto two Biology teachers to check and approve against the syllabus.  The Chemistry experiments are in the process of being written and will undergo the same scrutiny once finished.  It has been wonderful having our past students help with the writing of the experiments - their enthusiasim and work ethic has been fantastic and we feels to privileged to be receive such a tangible giving back to Makomborero.

Final health and safety checks are being put in places in the Laboratory.  Signage is being hung, safey sytems and procedures being drawn up and first aid training being conducted for the teachers involved.  We will also be building an external toilet close to where the Mobile Labortory is positioned at the Resource Centre so that the boarding house does not have to be accessed on the day of the Science lessons.  We will also be purchasing a big pop up tent, two long folding tables and folding chairs, which will all be stored in the Mobile Lab but will be set up as a class room outside the laboratory for the lesson time, prior to the laboratory time. A white board will also need to be purchased, as well as insurance taken out for students who will attend lessons in the Lab.  All these final touches will take place between now and May.

During the month of April we will begin to advertise the Mobile Lab and recruit students from low income students in and around Harare.  Starting with students that our current Makomborero Students are mentoring in their communities.  

 

We are very excited by this first implementation phase of this project and feel that this will be a good learning season for us, before we venture further afield.  Keeping costs to a minimum but impacting lives and learning as we go along.

 

We hope you continue to enjoy watching this project evolve over the next few months.

Past Mak Students writing the draft experiments up
Past Mak Students writing the draft experiments up
Draft copies of the Biology Experiments
Draft copies of the Biology Experiments

Attachments:
Feb 2, 2017

End of 2016 and start of 2017

Graduation 2016 - yes we are a little crazy!
Graduation 2016 - yes we are a little crazy!

2016 ended with a very busy few months.  During the 3rd term of the year the students all write their final examinations and the term can feel quite pressured and stressful for them but we were so proud of how they all managed their time and found ways to aleviate stress.

The Resource Centre continues to be a huge place of refuge and an incredible working enviroment.  We are seeing even past Makomborero students spending time at the Resource Centre, making use of the facilities and resources available to them.  This warms our hearts as this is how we always envisioned the house to be used.  We have also grown a huge vegetable garden which provides most of our vegetable needs and as this new year progresses we hope to see this expand and see the students get involved in the growing of the house veggies.  The swimming pool that came with the house seemed like such an unneccesary luxury but during the very hot months at the end of the year it was such a great source of fun and relaxation for the students.  With only a handful of them knowing how to swim it was wonderful to see them teaching each other how to swim and for many of them this was the highlight of their stressful exam period.  The property has really helped us to feel more of a family and the students are learning the deep need for relaxation and time for head space - this is a luxury for them as they live such different lives with their families.  Lives focused on survival and often very cramped and over crowded.

The schools that our students attend all had their annual Prize Givings and it is always very special to witness our students hard work being recognised.  Special mention goes to Belinda who was made a Prefect at Gateway this year.  This is such an incredible accomplishment for our students - who often find their first year so overwhelming with the cultural adjustments they have to make.  She is a brave, courageous and passionate leader and we are so proud of her.

We ended our year with a very moving Graduation for our outgoing Makomborero students.  Saying good bye is always hard and this year group were true brothers and sisters, who were such a joy to have around.  What a wonderful celebration of all they have accomplished in two years and we now look forward with expectation for the future that lies before them.  We also ended the year with a fun Christmas party with all staff and students.  There are videos that cover both these events which are beautiful to watch - see links below.

Our recruitment process started at the beginning of December and like every year it is incredibly challenging and sad but also fills us with such pride for the remarkable families who do everything in their power to educate their children, even when they live in abject poverty.  We heard such inspiring stories that filled your heart with huge respect but also reduced us to tears often.  After testing, interviews, subject workshops and home visits we made our final very difficult decision and it was a joy and honour to welcome 8 new students into the house over January.  You can meet them on our website. It is wonderful to see the whole Makomborero family come together during this time - present and past students helping throughout the testing process.

Two more scholarships that came through during December - Takudzwa received a full scholarship to study Engineering at Lafayette College in USA and we are so proud of him.  He has found a family in Makomborero and we are so glad he is part of us and we know he will fly.  HUGE congratulations to Roy Mugobi, one of our external students, for being accepted into Harvard on a full scholarship. We are thrilled. Thank you to USAP (Education Matters) for helping him along the way this last year, to obtaining this scholarship! Roy you have lots to be proud of - you had many challenges to over come on your educational journey and you should be proud of the journey you have made so far! The future is bright for all our families and we watch with great expectation as their lives unfold after Makomborero!  We sew seeds and then watch them grow over the years!

We are in the process of finalising our new external students for this year - not an easy process when we met such inspiring, intellegent, passionate students during our recruiting process.

Our University Students completed their 1st Semester at the end of the year and start their 2nd Semester this year.  They are all flourishing and we find it a privilege to watch them mature, grow up and become passionate yound adults in the fields they are studying.  This for us is one of the greatest joys.  To begin to see our students reach their potential.  We have our first Graduates this year from Makomborero and there is much to celebrate.  We also have enjoyed visits from many students from outside the country on full scholarships.  We love having them in our lives for a few days while they reconnect with their families.

We continue to have people visiting from outside the country and local Zimbabweans imputting into our students lives with evening seminars and sessions that bring a breadth to what we do and we so appreciate this!  We see the value of broadening our students views!

The new year always brings exciting new things and we are thrilled that our students are being taught Marimbas this year and they are enjoying the joy of learning a local Zimbabwean instrument.  One of the students texted me after the first lesson and said he could not believe how privileged he is.  Thank you Tawanda for volunteering your time for this.

We also kick off our life skills sessions with enthusiasm and I love these sessions with the students, time to get to know them, see them stretch mentally, see them grow, see light bulb moments - it is a huge honour.  We are still trying to finalise our English lessons this year and how they will work.

The Resource Centre has needed a little bit of maintenance done the last few months, using the money we raised through Global Giving for this.  We have seen 4 solar water heaters fitted, converted the outside kitchen into a boys shower block, new mattresses, blankets and pillows and many other little things around the property that have made it much more tailor made for us.

September to January are big expense months for us.  A break down of these expenses can be found attached to this report.

Ryan (leaver 2012) visiting graduates in May
Ryan (leaver 2012) visiting graduates in May
Testing Process 2016
Testing Process 2016
Home visits 2016 - humbling and inspiring families
Home visits 2016 - humbling and inspiring families
Marimba lessons
Marimba lessons
One on one interviews
One on one interviews
Homes in the High Densities (townships)
Homes in the High Densities (townships)
A few new students buying their school uniforms
A few new students buying their school uniforms

Links:


Attachments:
Dec 7, 2016

Update on progress of project

Mobile Science Lab
Mobile Science Lab

As this project is still in its infancy stage we will write a brief report on the progress to date.

Over these last few weeks, we have continued to work on the curriculum for the laboratory.  Choosing experiments, deciding how to structure the lessons, testing experiments in the laboratory, writing work sheets and producing the material we will use during lessons.

We are looking to start running weekend Science workshops in the new year.  This will utilize the funds raise so far and will see the laboratory utilised, while we raise the balance of the running costs.

We hope to start these workshops in February 2017, having hopefully completed the curriculum and all relevant material.  The material is written by volunteers.

In action
In action
Lab set up for work
Lab set up for work
 
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