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Educators Get Hands-on And Minds-On With Chemistry

Teachers share ideas and laughter on science experiments in the classroom at iThemba’s educator workshops.

More than 150 senior phase educators benefited from a chemistry science workshop facilitated by iThemba LABS in February and March 2017. The intention of these workshops is to bestow educators with the confidence to run science experiments in their own classrooms. The educators who attended were from the Metro South District in the Western Cape, as well as Lady Frere and Queenstown education districts in the Eastern Cape.

Chemistry is often an area in the school curriculum that is taught from a more theoretical perspective rather than a practical, hands-on one. This can be due to educators who lack the confidence or knowledge on how to conduct chemistry experiments safely. Educator training can assist with developing appropriate skills and abilities which can transform the teaching and learning environment. There are therefore significant benefits to training educators as this can have a positive impact on many learners for multiple generations. One of the educators commented in the evaluation that “Everything I have learnt through the workshop was beneficial to me. I enjoyed every experiment. Keep it up, equipping us with more practical [work].”

iThemba LABS conducted the chemistry science workshops and during each of the sessions the teachers did twelve hands-on grades 7 to 9 experiments as prescribed by the education department. The workshops covered a variety of topics and looked into an array of scientific techniques, such as separating materials by using their inherent properties like magnetism and degree of evaporation. Teachers made atomic models from flour, and used balloons to visualize the expansion and contraction of matter. Activities on density, pressure, as well as acid and base reactions also formed part of the training programme.

All activities in the sessions made use of materials that are easy to obtain – honey, oil, water – so they can be performed in any classroom. The Western Cape group of educators had its sessions on 4 and 18 of February while iThemba LABS presented the intervention in the Eastern Cape on 27 February to 1 March.