On Saturday November 10, 2018 Lesedi opened its doors to parents, adjudicators and visitors interested in how the programme works and what the learners had achieved this year.
The people invited to adjudicate projects and talk to the students at the end of the morning were:
- Agnes Mohale, Researcher at Umalusi (Council for Quality Assurance in General and Further Education and Training) who returned for the third year in a row.
- Simon Crane, Deputy Principal at HeronBridge College
- Ms Hilary Phillips, freelance technical and industrial journalist and editor
Each grade had been working on grade appropriate projects throughout the year and the auditorium was packed with colourful thought-provoking presentations.
Oceans and ocean conservation was the theme explored by our grade 4 group. Visitors were treated to a view of their aquariums, island habitats , water tanks and bottle diver science experiments.
The grade 5 group planned zoos. By working on their zoo plans they learned about cartography, geometric shapes and proportions. They also played shop and learned money maths while playing.
The difference between solar and electrical power was one of the themes explored by the grade 6 group. Their greenhouses were on display, showing how they had used geodesic domes to build them, but also demonstrating their knowledge of photosynthesis in the health of plants.
Solar power was also on the grade 7 group’s mind. They had made models of the solar system, showing how the planets in our system all orbit around the sun. In addition, they harnessed the power of the sun by building solar cookers. Agnes Mohale, the adjudicator from Umalusi was particularly impressed by this project. She said:
“I was impressed by the fact that learners create and design authentic projects. Let’s take for instance the solar cooker project. Learners identified a problem in their community and came up with a solution. One learner said, ‘I come from a poor community, people just don’t have money. Electricity is very expensive and so is gas and paraffin. It was cheaper for us to make a solar cooker and we don’t have to continue paying money to use it’. My impression with Lesedi is that the focus is not on what to learn and what to remember but on the process of learning. Learners become more responsible for their own learning and this is what makes a difference.”
Grade 8 learners had solved some geometric puzzles – building boxes for tennis balls and creating foosball tables from recyclables and reusables. Simon Crane, Deputy Principal at HeronBridge College had this to say about the foosball project:
“What struck me was that each project had a clear academic process of thinking skills at its core.
The foundation was academic, but the application was fun. And so the table soccer while being visually appealing and a highly-creative construction, had its heart a series of calculations that allowed for a correct field layout with all ratios cleverly observed and applied. And this was for me the real genius.”
The wire car business set up by the grade 9 learners impressed with its technical expertise and skills learned.
Grade 10 and 11 demonstrated the use of sensors in robotics – how robots could be programmed to follow light or recognise the difference between black and white. They also showed their knowledge of their English setworks by explaining the stories and themes of two books that they had retold on Instagram.
Agnes Mohale provided some much appreciated feedback on her impression of the year’s work:
“This is my third time visiting Lesedi Expo, and it has always been a privilege. You may be asking yourself, “Why is she always coming back”. For me it is the learners, the volunteers, it is all about the journey of learning that I see learners going through. I am humbled by the immense improvement in the quality of projects that are produced year after year. Let me share with you the lessons I have learnt from my interactions with the learners at different stations. The first station taught me that doing projects effectively improve the learners’ mathematics learning motivation. One student said, “Before I joined Lesedi I did not understand mathematics, but now I have won an award. What we do here is very good”. And another one said, “At my school I always help other learners. My teacher always ask me to lead because I understand more”. This for me speaks highly of Lesedi. As a teacher you know that the skills that learners have learnt were feasible when they are able to apply them in other contexts and transfer them to others, thus, taking leads in own learning and learning of others. What I also noted is that Lesedi teaches them more than in-depth subject knowledge. They learn how to love their subjects. As one learner said, “Unlike before, maths is in my spirit, in my heart and in my soul… I just love maths.
The learners also appreciate the collaborative nature of learning at Lesedi. They do not only collaborate with other learners but also with the volunteers. They become partners in their own learning, and as a result learning becomes more meaningful.”
Simon Crane, was equally impressed:
“I had the privilege of being able to attend my 1st Lesedi Expo this year. I had no idea what to expect and was certainly not at all prepared for the spectacle that I found filling Baobab on the morning of the Expo.
The venue was filled to capacity with our Lesedi children, our invaluable volunteer teachers and very proud parents. Baobab was simply awash with people, all there to support a programme that really is something quite special.
The tables on the floor space were filled with a huge range of projects, from coding games, to imaginary islands filled with geographical wonders, to table soccer games with players made out of pegs.”
He went on to elucidate what he thought was working well at Lesedi:
“Without a doubt, the Lesedi Expo confirmed for me that we need to play more at school.
Learning happens when kids have fun. When we try to teach, learning falls flat. The real “trick” to education is to have the children in one’s care learn without actually realising that they are learning, when they are having fun. In that way they are empowered and all barriers to learning are demolished. After all, who doesn’t want to have fun!
It may sound cliché, but for me everyone was a winner on that morning. The sense of exuberance that filled the room, and Baobab is a big room, was a measure of just how much everything meant to the kids and their parents.
I am massively impressed with the whole operation and I know Maryna provides the leadership for all that I saw on the day and I know that much of this is achieved because of the tireless work of our volunteers and their efforts in turn are complemented by children and parents who embrace the project, and so the wheel turns because of this synchronicity.
What a morning! I look forward to being able to support Lesedi 2019 in 2019.”
We want to thank the learners, their parents, the teaching volunteers, support volunteers, adjudicators, staff and all our sponsors for another fantastic year at Lesedi. Now all we have to do is enjoy our annual pool party and wish everyone a blessed and safe Christmas.