The second week of class brought our program into high gear. It would be terribly dull to spend this whole blog talking about class, so we’ll keep the curriculum details short. For the water class, we had a lively discussion about data analysis in light of our work from Week 1, and we followed this class with a hands-on experiment to test water drainage rates through different soils. In Jerome’s electronics class, students started to build functional circuitry by experimenting with hardwired water conductivity probes. My fingers are crossed that the students will finish these sensors by next class, so we can use them during our desalination activity! The energy class introduced heat transfer to the students with a fun experiment, and lead the students through a discovery of the electromagnetic principles behind dynamos and electric motors. Meanwhile, in the business technology class, students created personal budget projections on Excel and created poster presentations using Microsoft Word and Powerpoint.
We finally reached our steady-state volume (forgive the ChemE lingo) of students of roughly 45 in attendance each day. This has been a great help to all of the instructors, as we are finally learning a bit more about our students. I think I’ve matched about 60% of students to their correct names at this point, which is frankly an outstanding personal achievement (I’m terrible with names). Our afternoon activities have been helpful as well. We challenged the nearby Kwapro football (soccer…) team to a match on Wednesday, and some of the students really showed off their extracurricular talents. Although the match ended prematurely in a tie, after another scheduled match kicked us off, we played hard and everyone had a great time. We also held a picnic on Friday where students played basketball and soccer at the school and enjoyed a relaxing, soda-fueled break from the busy program.
The design project was a real challenge this week. Students rushed to put together detailed plans and material orders for the weekend shopping trip conducted by yours truly on Saturday. The plans are so ambitious this year that it is a real struggle to keep up with the project schedule. It looks like most of the groups can build some truly impressive creations by the end of the program, but we certainly have a busy two weeks ahead of us. There are no bulk hardware or building material stores in Cape Coast so it can be nearly impossible to find parts for these projects. I walked at least five miles through downtown Cape Coast looking for epoxy resin and nuts and bolts, and on my way back I rode in a route taxi while holding a 10 foot PVC pipe out of the window. In a lot of ways Ghana is a paradise for the handyman/hacker, but it can be tough trying to find the right parts here.
Overall we are very pleased with the project at its halfway point. It has exceeded our expectations in many ways. Aside from the program at University Practice Senior High, we have been very busy networking with local contacts to expand our operation in Ghana. We have a number of meetings scheduled for this week to discuss potential growth in Ghana. The future looks very bright and we are excited about the next few weeks. Keep reading and we will try our best to provide more frequent updates and we approach the home stretch.
-Clay & Chelsey
(P.S. we will post more pictures as soon as we get a stable internet connection.)