Sep 11, 2015

Reports on the Pueblo Science Guyana Workshop 2015

August 19 to 21, 2015
From Wednesday, the 19th of August to Friday, the 21st of August 2015, five members of the Pueblo Science Organization facilitated a workshop for science teachers at Saint Stanislaus College, Guyana. The purpose of the workshop was to enhance teaching and learning in the fields of Chemistry, Physics, Biology and Engineering by enabling teachers to implement simple experiments in their classrooms.
The five highly enthusiastic and energetic facilitators demonstrated a fresh approach to teaching secondary school science. The teachers were divided into five groups and sent on a memorable and inspiring journey. With the use of affordable, accessible materials, five learning post were set up and each group was briefly rotated through each. Teachers were given a concise yet thorough explanation of the theories to be applied. Having been briefed, the teachers were then shown simple experiments then tossed into a fun, yet somewhat competitive environment with the aim of replicating the experiment and obtaining results as previously demonstrated.


The first activity involved the construction of geodesic domes using old newspapers, scotch tape and a pair of scissors. This exercise encouraged team building and friendly rivalry. After the construction of the domes the facilitators offered explanations about the importance of these structures in everyday life.
Day Two of the Pueblo Science Workshop was filled with intense, yet surprisingly fun activities.  The teachers were involved in activities such as manual ice-cream making, simple food tests, catalysis using natural enzymes, and making flashlights using LEDs, capacitor and paper. They were involved in building functioning hydraulic arms and wind mill generators. C:\Users\Marvin\Desktop\IMG_20150821_141145.jpg

The final day began with a fascinating session of magic, all powered by science.  Having been wowed and captivated, the teachers were then pulled out of their joyous afternoon and thrown into the heat of a ‘race’ in which they had to apply all they had been taught over the past two and a half days at a series of six stations. This proved more exciting than the facilitators anticipated because there were masses of teachers literally running around the school compound in fierce competition to complete the tasks.
This workshop was a novel experience the teachers. All the participants, at some point over the three days clearly demonstrated joy and even amazement at the simple yet fun ways in which science can be taught. It was an exciting three days of practical science.


On behalf of the science teachers of Guyana we wish to thank the members of the St Stanislaus Toronto Alumni Association, the local College Association, the Board of Governors of St Stanislaus and the  officers of the Ministry of Education for the initiative in engaging the PUEBLO Science volunteers to facilitate a successful Camp.

Submitted with the compliments of teachers:
Marvin Lee  - Queen’s College
Kezia Bess – St. Stanislaus College
Rashanna Murray – St. Stanislaus College


Pueblo Science Teachers’ Camp
August 19-21, 2015
Hosted by the Ministry of Education in collaboration with the St. Stanislaus
College Alumni & Board



The Ministry of Education wishes to thank Mr. Paul Archer, President of the St. Stanislaus, Toronto Alumni, the members of the Board of the St. Stanislaus College along with the local Alumni Association, the Principal and Administrative Team of the St. Stanislaus College for their sterling contribution in hosting the Pueblo team and supporting the facilitation of this science camp.

  1. Introduction

‘By international standards, the size of the CARICOM’s human resource base in Science and Technology (S&T) is very small. Statistics show that approximately 15-20% of the student cohort writing the Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) examination, CSEC does so in single science subjects (Biology, Chemistry and Physics).  These statistics are similar to Guyana.  Building interest in science at an early age is necessary. As a result the Ministry of Education, Guyana embraced the collaboration with the St. Stanislaus Canadian Alumni to build teachers’ knowledge and skills in the delivery of the science curriculum   at the secondary school level with an emphasis on the use of practical activities to enhance the understanding of theoretical concepts. The Pueblo Science Camp was held for the first time in Guyana on August 19-21, 2015 as a result of this collaboration.  This camp engaged teachers in training on ‘hand-on’ activities in science which moved away from the traditional theoretical approach taken in the teaching of science.

This collaboration was timely because of its link to the Ministry of Education’s Strategic Plan (2014-2018) which focuses on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) as a critical tool for national sustainable development.  Teachers were selected from secondary schools that are in the process of re-establishing/resuscitating their science/environmental clubs. It is hoped that the ‘hands-on’ experience gained by the teachers and laboratory technicians will form part of the science/environmental club activities to popularize science within the participating schools.  In addition the approach used by the Pueblo facilitators mirrored the Inquiry Based Science Education (IBSE) approach that the Ministry of Education has adapted.  This approach links science to problem solving through the use of the scientific method. The scientific method is used as a teaching tool to solve problems. Internationally this approach has been shown to foster the development of critical thinking skills.  This use of readily available low cost materials to teach scientific concepts helped to re-orient the approach to the curriculum delivery.

  1. Proposed Objectives

  • Develop experiential learning for local communities including hinterland regions
  • Engage students in interactive activities that build critical thinking skills while making learning fun
  • Create a repertoire of hands-on kits to covers specific topics in chemistry, physics, biology, mathematics and engineering that can supplement the local teaching curriculum with activities with relevance to students’ daily lives
  • Train local teachers to use the kits in their classrooms and how to construct them from local materials
  • Post activity assessment meeting to bring together all participants to review the learning process and to improve the manner in which the tools are taken up in schools and
  • Providing mentorship opportunities students of trained teachers

The objectives for the initial training session were met. Post assessment activities will commence in collaboration with the Pueblo team.

  1. Attendance
A total of 79 teachers (which included laboratory technicians) benefitted from the Pueblo Training. Please refer to list in Appendix 1.

  1. Resource Materials

A manual was prepared and printed (one copy for each school represented). This manual covered the topic areas for the experiments/activities with links to the CSEC syllabi. Safety notes, experiment procedures which included explanations on the science and questions for students were included. Suggestions for extension to further activities were included in the manual.

The chemicals and other consumables for the experiments were sourced through a collaborative effort between the Ministry of Education, NCERD, Science Unit and the St. Stanislaus Canadian Alumni Association.  

  1. Areas covered

An introductory group activity using old newspapers to construct half of a dome excited teachers. The use of triangles instead of squares or rectangles was explained and linked to the construction of buildings.
Stations were set up for the areas listed below and teachers
    1. Catalysis (CSEC Physics and Biology syllabus)
Participants did several experiments to show how the enzyme catalase which is present in several vegetables and fruits converts harmful peroxides into harmless oxygen and water.  Potatoes and papaw were among some of the ones used.  The oxygen gas was tested.

    1. Food Chemistry  and Bio Tests ( CSEC Biology and Chemistry  Syllabi)
The following food tests were done:
  • Iodine test for carbohydrates ( comparisons were made in the presence of saliva and vitamin C)
  • Fat extraction (Acetone Test) / extraction of fat from chocolate chip / walnuts
  • Biuret test ( proteins)
    1. Electromagnetism, Motors and Generators ( CSEC Physics Syllabus, Energy Transformation)
Electron Current Flow and Conventional Current Flow were discussed. The electromagnetic force was explained and the activity included the explanation of Flemings Left Hand Rule.  It showed how electrical energy can be converted into mechanical motion as in the case of motors.

    1. Electronics (CSEC Physics Syllabus)

Discussions on where does electricity come from were included in this station.  The activities were linked to the following topics in the Physics syllabus:

  • Circuit diagrams
  • Ohm’s Law
  • Resistance
  • Electronics
Aluminium foil was used to make circuits and teachers learnt to read the values for the colour codes on resistors.  The amplifying effect of transistors was included in the activity; the current from the body was amplified to power a Light Emitting Diode (LED).
    1. Making Chemistry Do Work  (Section A CSEC Chemistry Syllabus)

Spontaneous electrochemical reactions were covered in this section

  • An experiment was done to build a galvanic cell to demonstrate the reaction spontaneity.
  • The phosphoric acid present in potatoes used in the circuit demonstrated the flow of electrons to light up the LED it was connected to.  

  1. Group Activities
    1. Hydraulics
This activity introduced teachers to pneumatics and hydraulics. Mechanical motions, pressures and robotics were included.
Cardboard, clear tubing and syringes were used to make an excavator with moving arms for lift and rotation.

6.2Ice Cream Chemistry
Ice Cream making was one of the fun group activities in which teachers varied the ingredients (cream and milk) to determine which ice cream would have a better structure and taste.  The role of the emulsifier for smoother texture and better taste was explained.

    1. Project Based Learning
Project based learning was discussed and teachers were engaged to share problems facing their schools/communities which they translated into hypotheses.
The elements of the scientific method were explained. This was very relevant for teachers that are preparing CSEC students for the project component of the syllabus. Common problems discussed were garbage, flooding, dust pollution in Region 10 etc.
7.0 Methodology
  • Participants were rotated over the first two days  in order to cover all the learning stations
  • For each activity the facilitators used hands on approaches with low cost materials to explain concepts in science.
  • Science ‘tricks’ were demonstrated with the science of each ‘trick’ explained
  • Teachers were engaged in a ‘science race’ as part of the final session which allowed them to use some of the skills they learnt in problem solving
  • All participants received certificates during the closing ceremony

The facilitators were very organized and assigned themselves to specific stations which allowed for excellent time management and a smooth flow of activities.
The facilitators were:
  • Calvin' Cheng, BASc, PhD candidate
  • Emina'Veletanlic,BASc.,MSc
  • Jenniffer'Tsoung,PhD Candidate
  • Leo'Mui,'MSc.Chemistry
  • Mayrose'Salvador,PhD (Founder of Pueblo Science)

  1. Some Feedback from teachers
  • Workshops of this nature can be done more often and involve other teachers from other schools
  • All of the teachers stated that they would recommend this training for others
  • Exciting and engaging sessions, the practical demonstrations can definitely be used as lesson openers to explain concepts
  • The members of the Pueblo Group were very inspirational and positive, allowing us as teachers to understand the basics. Our problem in Guyana is that we lack the practical hands on experiments to implement in our classrooms
  • The simplicity of the experiments made learning fun
  • The strategies used were effective and motivational, creative and exciting

  1. Recommendations

  • Scheduled follow up visits and monitoring with teachers from schools that participated to determine the implementation of the activities in the classroom/ through science/environmental club activities or other associated learning opportunities
  • Provision of materials ( to be supplied by the Ministry of Education)  for the experiments in schools that do not have the resources
  • Link/integrate the relevant activities with the micro-science programme e.g. the electrolysis of water that was done in the station  ‘ Making Chemistry do Work’
  • Support the resuscitation of science clubs with the involvement of the teachers that were trained
  • Medium term – plan training for 2016 batch of teachers

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