Danielle M. Andrews, Ecosystem Science and Management, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA and Neil E. Brown, Geography, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA
As universities strive to become global and build capacity in nontraditional locations, study abroad experiences should include objectives that will have on going benefits to all stakeholders. One such objective can be to combine science instruction and indigenous knowledge using science fairs. To test this approach, Penn State faculty and students hosted a science fair for rural South African elementary school students and teachers in an effort to build educational capacity in science instruction and learning. The fair involved 6th and 7th graders representing six different rural elementary schools in the Hobeni Community, Eastern Cape Province. As 2015 was designated the International Year of Soils, the fair focused on the importance of soils, water and heritage. Using a systems approach, more than 35+ students and teachers engaged in activities that centered round the interactions of water, soil and vegetation and the role of soils in the local culture. The fair concluded with storytelling and bookmaking as tools to communicate the topics explored during the first portion of the fair. All activities were specifically designed to enhance student understanding of the South African Natural and Social Sciences curricula and to be appropriate for working across cultural and linguistic barriers. This poster will highlight the opportunities for using science fairs to engage both university and elementary school students in peer-peer learning and varying methods of science communication while demonstrating the importance of soils and water in society.