Education in Uganda: A Look Inside the Chemistry Classroom
PED wants you to gain a deeper understanding of what is occurring throughout classrooms in Uganda.Take a closer look at the way teachers and students come together with one goal in mind: learning and growing together.
The class is separated into groups and students begin moving towards the different walls of the room, carrying their notebooks and pens with them. Desks screech against the floor as students move them together to create a level surface to work on. Today, the S4 students at Awach Secondary School will be conducting a practical lab for their Chemistry class.
In the previous day’s instruction, the teacher, Richard, guided students through the concept of rates of reaction, preparing them for the experiment they will now conduct. Now, the students take out their notebooks to read through the instructions once more, holding each other accountable for not making any mistakes during the lab.
At Awach Secondary School, students in S4 Chemistry conduct practical labs twice a week. An active learning process, these labs also help students to prepare for their exit exams, where 40 percent of the exam score is based on the student’s individual performance in the lab.
Richard passes out glass beakers to each group and tells individual students to meet him at the front of the room to collect the chemicals. Sodium thiosulphate and hydrochloric acid are carefully poured into each beaker with exact measurements so as not to impact the accuracy of the results.
Meanwhile, group members still at the stations are busy preparing for the arrival of the chemicals, marking a small square of paper with a red “X” and readying the timers.
When the chemicals arrive, students take measurements to begin mixing their solutions. The amount of sodium thiosulphate remains constant at 50mL, while the amount of hydrochloric acid will increase throughout each trial of the experiment. Students are trying to determine the rate of reaction between the two chemicals.
As they combine chemicals, they place their beaker over their square of paper and set the timer. Now, the waiting begins. Eyes glance eagerly back and forth between the beaker and the clock. Soon, the clear solution begins to turn cloudy, a visible sign that the reaction is occurring. After two and a half minutes, all students crowd around the beaker and note that they can no longer see the red “X” - the timer is stopped.
Groups repeat the process several times, exiting the classroom to walk to a cleaning station where the beakers and stirrers can be washed after each use. Students begin to chart their data, noting patterns they observe and making inferences for what will come in the next trial.
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