First physics workshop in Mekele

30 April 2014

The first practical physics teacher training session to take place outside of Addis Ababa was held from 7th to 11th April 2014 in Mekele, the capital city of the Tigray region in the north of Ethiopia. This training formed part of the Ethiopian Ministry of Education plan to set up 4 Regional Training Centres.

First physics workshop in Mekele

The Tigray Regional Education Bureau had selected Ayder Secondary school as the base for the training and the location at which the Centre would be established. This school has 2600 pupils and operates a 2-shift system because of a lack of classroom facilities and teachers.

A 5-day practical physics training session was delivered to 22 Ethiopian Secondary school Grade 9 and 10 teachers.  The training session was also being used to select 4 teachers who would become Regional Trainers who would have the role of training other teachers in their region. A Physics Curriculum Expert from the Regional Bureau attended the course and he is progressing with setting up a teacher network with 10 schools in Mekele.

A range of experiments were presented, including demonstrations on the measurement of acceleration, Hooke’s Law, electronics, Archimedes principle and the use of a Eureka can, waves using a slinky, basic electricity, the I-V characteristic for a filament lamp and electromagnetism. VPLAB was briefly used as interactive demonstrations to support the practical work.

First physics workshop in Mekele

The teachers were encouraged to think about the methods that they might use to present practical physics demonstrations and exercises to pupils in the classroom. They were trained to consider the design of experiments, how visible a demonstration might be to large classes, methods for keeping student engaged in the activity and basic risk analysis for health and safety issues.

On this occasion the opportunity was taken to deliver one of the practical demonstrations in a classroom of 60 children, with the trainee teachers applying their newly acquired skills. Plotting the magnetic field lines of a bar magnet using a compass was selected as an appropriate practical exercise for the students. On completion the class was asked for feedback and they commented on how much easier it was for them to understand field lines now that they had been able to draw them out for themselves. The class gave a resounding round of applause at the end of the session!

First physics workshop in Mekele

In an experiment to determine the focal length of a lens, the teachers were outside in the school yard and were soon surrounded by a number of students who were keen to find out what was happening and they were so interested that they followed the teachers back in to the training laboratory!

First physics workshop in Mekele

On the final day, the teachers completed a feedback form and during the closing ceremony they were presented with their course certificates. The teachers responded enthusiastically to the course and one of them wrote: “I would like to thank the Institute of Physics. This very helpful training is very important for the students as well as for the teachers, so thanks for all, from my heart”.