Physics workshop takes place at Ethiopia’s second Regional Physics Training Centre

1 October 2014

The first of four planned Regional Physics Training Centres was set up by the Ethiopian Ministry of Education at Ayder Secondary School in the Tigray region during April 2014.

The second Centre is based at Tana Haik (Lake Tana) secondary school, in the Amhara region in the north of the country.

Ethiopia physics workshop

In August, a five-day practical physics training session was delivered at the school by Bill Poole, one of the IOP for Africa volunteer coordinators for Ethiopia, to 24 Ethiopian secondary school Grade 9 and 10 teachers.

The training session was also attended by the four National Teacher Trainers, who took part in presenting some of the experiments. This involvement of the National Trainers was the first step in a longer-term aim of handing over the training to them so that the IOP practical physics project becomes sustainable. There is recognition by the trainers that they need to build up their own experience of practical physics and they would value dedicated training sessions.

Ethiopia physics workshop

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 software was briefly used to provide interactive demonstrations to support the practical work.

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 students engaged in the activity and basic risk analysis for health and safety issues. They were encouraged to think about improvisation, for example using a candle as a light source for the experiment to determine the focal length of a lens.

On the final day, one teacher from each of the five groups presented one of the experiments demonstrated during the week. At the end of the course, the teachers completed feedback forms and during the closing ceremony they were presented with their course certificates.

Ethiopia physics workshop

The feedback was positive and implies that the teachers will implement their experience in the classroom, but that shortage of equipment is a problem for them. The responses to the course were enthusiastic and one of the teachers wrote: “The training is so good but is short so more time to get more confidence and knowledge [would be useful]. Computers and materials should be given to schools. I greatly thank IOP for the training”.