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Science fair: Students make soap, perfume

By Vision Reporter

Added 9th October 2007 03:00 AM

WITH the Government putting more emphasis on science education, schools need to train students to become more innovative. The recently-concluded science and agricultural fair held at Mandela National Stadium, was geared towards this end.

WITH the Government putting more emphasis on science education, schools need to train students to become more innovative. The recently-concluded science and agricultural fair held at Mandela National Stadium, was geared towards this end.

By Silvano Kibuuka and Bob Kisiki

WITH the Government putting more emphasis on science education, schools need to train students to become more innovative. The recently-concluded science and agricultural fair held at Mandela National Stadium, was geared towards this end.

The commissioner for secondary education, Yusuf Nsubuga, said: “The fair aims at promoting sciences and producing the country’s scientists.”

Schools exhibited individual projects which included soap making and recycling, mushroom growing and perfume making.

Agnes Nsubuga, the headteacher of St. Joseph’s College Naggalama, says they hold regular exhibitions at which students manifest the potential to be creative and innovative.

Joseph Ggita, a teacher, corroborates her assertion: “We do this to make sciences more relevant and practical.” He adds that the soap projects his students exhibited at Namboole were part of what the students were taught in class.

“At the school fair, Martin Kiwe of Senior Five single-handedly produced soap. He said he wanted to present the project at the fair.”
A Senior One boy was behind the soap recycling project, Ggita says.

Science education, as indeed all education, should only be promoted if it is going to solve society’s problems and improve the ordinary person’s lifestyle.

Ggita, together with Godfrey Kironde, are also behind a juice and wine-making project, which they say, could be a source of income to the school in the near future.

Nabisunsa Girls’ School showed their skills in improved mushroom growing. The head of the project, Bonita Mbabazi, said it takes three weeks to harvest the mushrooms. “The initial step is to get seeds of a preferred species.

We culture them in cotton husks and polythene bags,” she explains.
“After one week, windows are created on the cultured contents, where the mushrooms can grow.

The cultures are then kept in a relatively dark atmosphere.”
Mbabazi says they have the capacity to culture mushrooms for local consumption and for sale on order.

Kyambogo College School showed their mastery at making perfume from weed ginger. The project head, Joseph Hasahya, of Senior Six, said the product can also be used in the beverage and confectionery industry. “It’s all about simple distillation and condensing the vapour, which liquifies as perfume.”

Hasahya says the process involves heating the weed ginger. “At 150ºC, a vapour is formed that is cooled by simple distillation, to get the product.” Hasahya says with further distillation, the scent is lost and if hydrogen is added, you get plant butter which can be used as margarine.

Makerere College’s Joyce Nannozi also exhibited how she used simple distillation to manufacture a natural insecticide. The 16-year-old Senior Six student says: “It was after former Rubaga South MP Ken Lukyamuzi’s anti-DDT demonstration threats that I thought of the project. I use the neem fruit peels to get a mosquito-eradication drug.”

Nannozi explains that she got the idea of the ingredients after learning that insects like cockroaches and mosquitoes do not work in the same environment with the neem tree.

Rose Izizinga, the Makerere College headteacher, advises that schools should stop waiting for facilitation to be able to encourage initiative in students. While she agrees that money is essential, she maintains that a lot can be done with substitution.

“Initiative is not taught,” she says. “When I was headteacher at St. Peter’s Nkokonjeru, I had babies whom I fed from calibrated bottles.

I also knew that the science classes needed calibrated beakers for the experiments, so I gave them my bottles.” She says what is keeping schools from promoting scientific initiative is not lack of funds, but interest.

She advises that while the Government and school authorities must see to the availability of labs for the non-substitutable experiments, teachers need to improvise. Use a classroom for a lab; a stove for a Bunsen burner and feeding bottles for beakers.

The bottom line is that unless sciences are taught practically, we shall, as a nation, remain dependent on other nations for many basic needs.

Science fair: Students make soap, perfume

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