Let’s use science to solve problems in our society

We live in an amazing world. That is an undisputed fact because of science. It is through the study of living and non-living things that our minds and eyes have beheld wonders. Through science, we have largely improved the world we were brought into. Animals can now take a rest because we have discovered laws, mastered them, and defied them to have bullet trains and airplanes. Polio is no longer a killer disease, thanks to those who discovered the vaccine.
The year 2020 further proved the essence of science to humans as we all awaited news of any scientists discovering a vaccine for the disruptive coronavirus. So, it is little wonder that in this country, the government has maintained the compulsory learning of sciences up to Senior Four. Science is entangled into every bit of our living and we should thus be educated about it.
There has been criticism over the years about the theoretical teaching of science subjects. Whereas you couldn’t bring a Khoisan for “practical” history, the science enthusiasts demanded to have frogs, light bulbs, amoeba, and leaves present as they were being taught.
International media was awash with a story of a Ghanaian ICT teacher who taught Microsoft on a chalkboard! Science subjects here, through government efforts, are now taught better.
Just at the beginning of this year 2020, the National Curriculum Development Centre (NCDC) under the Ministry of Education, held training for teachers for the new curriculum. The revised curriculum, according to NCDC, will reduce content overload, foster learner-centered tutoring, among other goals. The teachers shall guide and not spoon-feed as it was. We have moved as a country from just cramming and reproducing what we’ve been taught to experiencing those science concepts before our very eyes.

We use the Bunsen burner and dissect frogs as the liquids turn blue or pink or not. In partnership with NGOs, the government has done a commendable job, and it is upon this victory that I add my voice. Graphs, experiments, animations, and prototypes are all essential in helping students interpret science.
However, it is time to move beyond that to enable students to apply the knowledge acquired in class. The kind of practicality here is marrying science to the environment we live in; for students to participate in a not only rapidly changing world, but also in the local environment and the issues affecting the communities where they live. This is a call to emphasise the enabling of students to use scientific knowledge to solve socio-economic challenges. For example, a student who lives in the Elgon Mountains and the one in Kampala should both be able to interpret the force of gravity in their context. The one in Kampala may think of building a roller coaster while the Elgonian will try to defy that gravity to ease fetching water up the mountain. A simple starter question to students after each concept or science law would be; “we have studied about osmosis; how can you replicate it in our everyday life?”
It is through such an approach that we have Space X’s Elon Musk, who is using science to colonise mars and locally the Solomon King Benge founded Fundi bots. The organisation has a focus on STEM education (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics) to radically improve school curriculum knowledge and empower students to be forces of change in their communities. That should now be our focus as science educators – using science to change communities.


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