SEAVURIA's science training in Mombasa
Spring is bustling with activity at MCI's two schools. In March, we completed a new classroom building at Mara Hills Academy that houses 6th, 7th and 8th grades. Currently, the school only goes to 6th grade, but this new facility ensures that students will have the option to go through 8th grade.
This year our academic focus is on science. We are partnering with SEAVURIA, a Seattle-based non-profit committed to improving STEM (Science Technology Engineering & Math) education through global engagement, to lay the groundwork for a new science curriculum for MCI's two schools. Two of our teachers were inspired by a professional development training in Mombasa that was hosted by SEAVURIA. The training centered around a unit on water quality using Cascade Designs' SE200 water filter. Participating teachers used the SE200 to experiment and measure the chlorine requirements to clear bacteria from a variety of sources. They learned how to graph their data on Microsoft Excel, picked up instructional techniques for helping students solve problems and think analytically, and applied what they learned to their lesson plans. They also enjoyed two days at the Kenya Medical Research Institute(KEMRI) Wellcome Trust Research Programme, internationally known for its work on malaria and other infectious diseases.
Because the training was so valuable, we are now trying to find a way to bring Mary Margaret Welch, SEAVURIA’s executive director and long-time science educator, to the MCI schools to begin work on a K-6 science curriculum. The goal of the curriculum will be to teach students to think critically and ask questions using the scientific method, as opposed to learning primarily through memorization, which is how science is typically taught in Kenya. Ultimately, we hope to create a collaborative science program with a school in the United States so that students can share data and work together on global issues around health and poverty, similar to the model SEAVURIA has created between eight other schools in Kenya and Seattle.
On the fundraising front, MCI's Girls to Girls teenage volunteers program kicked off their new organization with a bake sale that raised $1000 for a playground at Mara Hills Academy. Girls to Girls is the brainchild of six 14-year-old girls from Vashon Island, Washington who are committed to raising money and corresponding by letters with the girls at MCI's two schools. Rita Olson, an MCI board member, is matching the money the girls made at the bake sale, which will allow playground construction to begin this summer. The playground will be built with local materials from Kenya. The girls are reserving some of their proceeds from the bake sale to buy Maasai jewelry to sell at Vashon's Strawberry Festival in July. They have not yet decided what they will do with the money they earn from the jewelry sales.
At the schools, the students are thriving. Mara Hills Academy netball team played in the Narok regional games in March, and four of our students went on to compete in the county-level games in April. Academically, the schools continue to have a reputation for being among the best in the Maasai Mara region.
In June, we will host two groups of visitors to the schools, four of whom are teenage girls from the U.S. who are looking forward to sharing and learning with the students at MCI's two schools. We'll send you an update on the trip in our next report in June.
Thank you for supporting MCI's schools
MCI Girls to Girls raised $1000 for a playground
MCI's volleyball champs
Students in front of the new classroom building