Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Of RFID and Water Sensing

Monday was the last day for Primate Handshake, so they showed the vidoes they had edited together at their campsite. Super good videos with plenty of interviews. The head teacher, Lydia, talked about most of the programs. One of the videos shows off the mapping program. The kids were so funny when they watched the video - whenever they saw or heard something familiar on video (a teacher, or pouring porridge) they would burst out laughing. A few students made their own guided tours of the school programs, so these were very popular with the group.

School goes on break on August 13th, so I have 3 school weeks left, including this one. I've made it a top priority to do our water quality testing this week (more about that later). Also I'm e-mailing back and forth with Architecture for Humanity about the school roofs idea.

I went to Moses and Matthew and wrote out a schedule:


  • Finish mapping lessons - share activity and KML

  • Lessons about sensors (smaller P6 class only tried them once)

  • Making our own sensors

  • RFID activity


  • Start mapping lessons

  • Making our own sensors

  • RFID activity

Water Testing (this week)

  • Small group of P5, P6, or mixed students?

  • Class 1: Explain water testing and reasons for testing (include Dunkard Creek example). Assign water collection

  • Class 2: World Water Monitoring and pH tests - use microscopes

  • Next few days: (If possible, and teaming up with Chris) visit water sources, take photos and do GPS

The RFID thing isn't going over well. It's complicated and doesn't seem as relevant. I may need to visit a cellphone repairman in Fort Portal to get it re-soldered. I think it gives the students an opportunity to connect real-world and digital things which they've made themselves, but Matthew keeps asking me how I'll explain it (how did I explain light sensors? I said that they measured solar energy, and that was that). I wish people would trust me more, since the other programs are going so well.

As soon as I got to water testing, Moses asked me if I could check out the borehole in Kigarama. "It looks like it has rust," he says. Now this project is much more serious. I wish I'd talked with Moses about this earlier. Right now I'm suspecting bacteria or actual rust. Matthew knows where this is, so I'll make sure to stop by and check things out. Hopefully I won't have to pull a John Snow and break off the pump handle.

Anyhow, we decided a small P6 class can do the water testing. I'll assign collection sites at the end of their next maps class, and get samples from a variety of water sources (rainwater, boreholes, wells, school)... I will get extra Kigarama and river samples myself.

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