2005 - Collaborative Workshop - Cairo - Dec 6-8 (1 of 10)
SEED Collaborative Workshop for Students and Teachers
December 3-8, 2005
submitted by Michael Tempel and Tom Lough
The December 2005 SEED Workshop in Cairo, Egypt, featured a workshop-in-workshop (WIW) format. The first three days were devoted to a workshop for 12 teachers and other professional staff, in which they obtained experience in organizing and running a workshop. During the second three days, these 12 facilitated their own workshop with 15 students and four additional teachers as participants.
The WIW format was an interesting concept to try. By its design, it has the potential to develop a self-sustaining workshop staff that is not dependent on outside facilitators. This is a desirable goal, so that each country can become proactive in developing its own workshop activity in conjunction with its national SEED organization.
The WIW was a success on all fronts. The facilitators were enthusiastic and applied themselves to their tasks with much energy. They learned quickly and applied their workshop presentation skills effectively. The students were also enthusiastic learners. All projects were developed in a surprisingly short amount of time. The Schlumberger volunteers all provided enthusiastic support throughout. They were extremely attentive to the needs of the workshop, and responded instantly to all requests.
We continued the theme of water. Tools used included water quality testing kits, digital microscopes, GoGo Boards and related materials and equipment, and MicroWorlds along with Internet Explorer and Microsoft office tools.
Workshop participants developed six excellent projects that incorporated several ideas into programmed systems. Each group developed a flowchart of the program logic and a drawing of the prototype. They also wrote a project report and developed a presentation file. Workshop facilitators developed three projects during their training session as well. All projects were presented on the last day of the workshop.
The workshop room was located on the top floor of the new Ministry of Education compound in 6 of October City outside of Cairo. The room measured about 20 meters long by 10 meters wide, and was large enough for:
- Fourteen large tables with one desktop computer each. One computer had a small printer attached, and another computer was connected to a projector with screen for presentations.
- A central meeting area large enough for a circle of 35 chairs.
- A table for art supplies.
- A table for water testing equipment.
- Two tables for an electronics area with stations for soldering and fabrication.
An adjacent break area in the hallway was used for the mid-morning and mid-afternoon tea breaks. An additional room nearby was used for equipment storage and preparation.
This workshop was different from other workshops because a significant proportion of the facilitators were from the Egypt Ministry of Education, the Suzan Mubarak Science Center, and the Library of Alexandria Planetarium Science Center. This direct participation by ministry representatives is a healthy indication of the strong interest in SEED workshops and methodology at the national level. It also indicates that SEED workshops in Egypt have a great potential for significant impact on science teaching methodology across the country. Similarly, having representatives from the Library of Alexandria Science Center as facilitators has the potential to impact schools in the Alexandria area. The Library offers many workshops for school groups and summer programs for young people. They plan to include additional workshops based on the SEED model.
The Egyptian school year typically begins in mid-September, and runs continually with the exception of a two-week break in January. Primary schools finish at the end of May and secondary schools at the end of June. The remaining months are for the summer break. This workshop was positioned during the current school year. Student participants had to miss school in order to attend the workshop.
- The facilitators (Michael and Tom) spent the afternoon before the workshop going over the preparations with Tarek Medhat, the local SEED coordinator. Additional tables and computers were requested, and the workshop room was configured. They unpacked and organized the supplies and equipment, and set up a storage room adjacent to the workshop room.
- The workshop was divided into two major sessions. The first three days was a facilitator training session devoted to working with 12 teachers and other professional staff. The second three days included these 12 facilitators plus 15 students and four teachers who traveled with them.
- During the facilitator training session, we focused on overall goals and objectives of the workshop, familiarization with the MicroWorlds software and the GoGo Board, roles of the facilitators, and the schedule of events. The facilitators also worked in three groups to develop group identity, create project concepts and prototypes, and then make presentations about their projects. This session proved to be valuable because it got everyone familiar with the various technological tools available and the roles that needed to be filled.
- On the first day of the second workshop, the new participants were assigned in advance to the existing three groups, with five students and one or two additional teachers to each, so that participants who lived in the same area were split up. Ice breaking activities included a pillow toss, in which the pillow tosser had to say the name of the person to whom he/she was tossing the pillow. This brought smiles to many faces.
- QHSE concepts were introduced by the lead facilitator, including action on a fire alarm and the importance of wearing protective gear for sample collection, water testing, and soldering. Hamdy El Dawy, a local Schlumberger volunteer, stepped forward to become “Captain QHSE,” and to keep all participants focused on an attitude of safe practices. He wore a special safety badge when “on duty” in the workshop area. Safety was emphasized in using the tools and equipment in the electronics/robotics area. Proper safety equipment was used and safe procedures were followed in all aspects of water testing, including water collection and disposal. There were no injuries or incidents.
- After a brief introduction to the water testing kit, we boarded a bus to the Pharoanian Village on the Nile River. (Note: The bus was large enough not to require seat belts. The facilitators discussed this issue.) After a waterboat tour of some of the historical exhibits and lunch, we took samples of the water in the river and performed a few tests on it. Upon return to the workshop room, we recorded the results of the tests, discussed an overview of the workshop goals, and received an introduction to the computer microscope. This turned out to be an excellent sequence, because we were able to see microorganisms in the water that was collected!
- In a planning meeting of facilitators at the end of the first day, issues of time and scheduling were discussed. The group decided to include only short presentations about MicroWorlds and the GoGo board on the next day, and allow longer periods of time for groups to explore these tools on their own. They also decided to make the attendance at the IMAX movie optional, and to extend the closing time from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m., in order to give more project working time. Issues of safety and accountability were reviewed.
- On the second day of the second workshop, the facilitators began promptly with a brief but very well organized overview of MicroWorlds, followed by a period of about 45 minutes when the participants explored the software in their groups. All facilitators were active guides but none touched a keyboard or a mouse. Then a brief GoGo Board introduction was followed by a similar period of exploration. A key part of the introduction was a demonstration of Michael’s GoGo turtle, which moved only when something blocked the light from above.
- Following a brief presentation about the use of the online discussion board by Tarek Mohamed Habib, the brainstorming session was facilitated by Nahid Mokhtar. Each of the three groups created lists of ideas and then developed two project concepts that incorporated a number of their ideas. Next, they planned a flow chart and a schematic diagram for each project, and set to work on their prototypes.
- An IMAX three-dimensional film and a tour of a nature park was a highlight prior to lunch. Although this was optional, everyone decided to participate. This was an excellent extracurricular activity.
- After lunch, project work continued, with most projects nearing completion by the end of the day. Voluntarily, the facilitators, students, and teachers worked for more than an hour past the scheduled closing time.
- At the beginning of the third day of the second workshop, the facilitators hosted a general meeting to focus the efforts of the participants on finishing their projects and preparing for their presentations. Each group then prepared a PowerPoint file for their project presentation and a Word file for their project report. All files were collected into one folder.
- Project presentations were made by the students, and included a narrative supplemented with a PowerPoint file and a demonstration of the project itself. A videographer recorded each presentation and demonstration. Then the three groups of participants gave presentations and demonstrations about the projects they had developed a few days earlier. (Until this point, these projects were kept in the storage room so as not to influence the student projects.)
- In the afternoon, the closing ceremony consisted of a video of the earlier workshop in Alexandria, remarks of appreciation by Tarek Medhat, and the awarding of certificates to both the facilitators and the participants. The 6 student projects were distributed among the teachers from the various schools. Additional GoGo boards and other equipment were distributed to the teachers to take back to their schools.
- After the students departed, the facilitators held an additional meeting with Tarek Medhat and Suzan Marzouk of the Ministry of Education. The content of the workshop, its effectiveness, and its future were discussed. Tarek Medhat indicated that he would continue to provide necessary to the SEED schools as well as to the workshop process.
- Abdou El Dawy worked throughout the workshop to produce a newsletter and a directory of participant and facilitator information. Copies are included with this report. Tom Lough developed a project report, also included.
- Translation support was generally not necessary, due to the excellent English language proficiency of the volunteers, facilitators, and students. In the few instances when translation was necessary, there were always enough multilingual persons nearby to assist effectively.
- At several times during the workshop, a check was made to ensure that every group member had the opportunity to participate and to be heard.
- As a separate workshop activity, we introduced prototype SEED Science Kits, consisting of materials and documentation for four Science Lab experiments, to five of the teachers. Four more sets will be sent to two additional schools and to the two science centers. We will obtain feedback from the teachers on their use.
- We also set up Nahid Mokhtar, a teacher at Yehia El Rafie school in Cairo (currently not a SEED school) with the connections necessary to carry out the River Kids project.
2. Development Areas for Future Workshops
- Initially, computers with Windows 98 were provided. Unfortunately, these could not satisfy the workshop needs. These computers were replaced with Windows XP machines. Microworlds and the GoGo monitor were installed on each, and internet connections were made. No mousepads were available and the mouse rollers had not been cleaned, making it difficult to maneuver the mouse. In the future, it would be helpful to have all computers and equipment fully installed and checked out at least one day prior to the workshop.
- Prior to the workshop, the shipment of GoGo boards was tied up in Egyptian customs. However, the support staff was able to get the shipment released in time for the workshop. We appreciated this extra effort.
- The trip to the Pharoanian Village consumed a surprising amount of time. This caused the workshop schedule to be extended. In the future, we might consider quicker trips to obtain water samples.
- The bus for the Pharoanian Village trip had seat belts for only the front two seats. Apparently seat belts were not necessary for the other seats due to the large size of the bus. Even though the bus was within regulations, we should always provide the maximum protection to our workshop participants when traveling in any vehicle where possible.
- During the Pharoanian Village trip, it was difficult to make sure that all participants were accounted for. However, the groups were able to keep tabs on their members. It was helpful that the village was a self-contained facility. In the future, perhaps a more focused facilitator orientation on individual student behavior would help.
- During the student workshop, there was no GoGo board orientation. However, when it was time to develop the project prototypes, the facilitators provided appropriate and effective instruction for the GoGo board. The students picked up on it quickly, and did not appear to be hampered by the lack of a more formal introduction. In the future, we might consider this approach.
- During the student workshop, there was an orientation on MicroWorlds as well as an opportunity for general exploration. However, none of the groups used MicroWorlds in their projects or their presentations. This is partly understandable because of the relatively short development time available. However, since the orientation did not include any work on animation, perhaps this was a factor in the groups deciding not to use MicroWorlds. In the future, perhaps we should include a demonstration of how groups in earlier workshops used MicroWorlds to create animated simulations of their projects.
- There was no Schlumberger management attendance at the workshop or the related events. Only the SEED coordinator and his three volunteers were present for workshop activities. In order for projects like this to succeed, clear management interest and support is necessary.
- In spite of Internet connections being available on most computers and an orientation to the discussion board during the student workshop, there was no activity by the participants on the workshop discussion board. This is partly understandable because of the short time available during the workshop. In the future, we need to make sure that each computer can access the bulletin board, that all participants are registered in advance, and that bulletin board work is a required component in all projects.
- At the conclusion of the workshop, there was no opportunity for the facilitators to make public commitments for their future related activities. For example, what additional water testing are they planning? Will they participate in the discussion board or post the projects of their students? Will they plan on presenting workshops of their own? In the future, there should be an opportunity for the participating teachers to make these or similar commitments so that SEED workshops do not become “one shot” in nature. It is only through the continued actions of the teachers that the ideas and ideals related to the workshop can spread and flourish.
- While the three volunteers who assisted with the logistics of the workshop did an excellent job, there were no teaching volunteers. This meant that several tasks had to be assigned to participating teachers. For example, the development of the newsletter and the directory was done by Abdou El Dawy, a teacher from Luxor. This detracted from the overall effectiveness of the workshop. In the future, we suggest that management encourage a stronger volunteer turnout so that there is sufficient staff for all workshop tasks.
- This was the first time to try a WIW format, and it seems to have been successful for the most part. However, six days in a row are rather tiring to the facilitators. In the future, we recommend a two- or three-day facilitator training period, a weekend break, and then a four- or five-day workshop with students.
We had 15 students and 16 teachers participating from six schools in Egypt:
School teachers students
LuxorSecondary 2 2
School for Boys
Shedwan Prep School 2 2
for Girls – Ras Gharib
Port SaidSchool 2 4
Omer Ibn El Khattab 1 2
Yehia El Rafie School 1 2
Cairo(not a SEED school)
Middle EastLanguage 2 3
School – Alexandria
AlexandriaLibrary 2 0
Suzan Mubarak Science Center 2 0
Ministry of Education 2 0
*Includes 12 teachers who were also facilitators (see below).
SEED Coordinator for Egypt
Tarek Medlak – SEED coordinator
SEED Core Team
Local Schlumberger Volunteers
Amal El Noamany - assistant
Hamdy El Dawy - assistant
Ihab Abdel Abou Zeid – driver
Abdou El Dawy [Luxor – Secondary School for Boys, Computer Teacher]
Mohamed El Sayed Abdou El Awadly [Port Said – Port Said School for Girls, Biology Teacher]
Nahid Mokhtar El Shahawy [Cairo – Yehia El Rafie School (not a SEED school), Biology Teacher]
Tarek Mohamed Habib [Alexandria – Middle East Language School, Biology Teacher]
Mervat Mubarek Seliman [Cairo – Omer Ibn El Khattab School, Computer Teacher]
Yasser Ahmed Abou Zeid [Ras Gharib – Shedwan Prep School for Girls, Computer Teacher]
Professional Staff Facilitators
Alya Abdel Hamid –Suzan Mubarak Science Center
Omar Ibrahim Mahmoud – Suzan Mubarak Science Center
Ahmed El Ansary El Salamony – Ministry of Education
Dina Swidan – Ministry of Education
Ayman El Sayed – Library of Alexandria Planetarium Science Center
Amira Kotb – Library of Alexandria Planetarium Science Center