While the kit may seem like an unsuspecting box of paper clips, rubber bands, strings, a prism, pulleys and more, using the accompanying experiment guide children can quickly turn those materials into scientific adventures!
This October, our Spark kits made their debut in Haiti when one of our mentors lead a mission trip to Haiti.
Haitian Christian Mission began 40 years ago on the porch of Betty and Etienne Prophete’s home in Port au Prince. It has since grown to serve 10,250 students in 53 schools around the country of Haiti. Their students rank 2nd in the nation in their accreditation exams. The campus in Fonds Parisien includes a K-12 school, a church, a translation school for adults, a clinic and a nationally recognized OB/GYN hospital, a woodworking shop, a sewing workshop, a new youth center, and a soon-to-open peanut butter factory.
One of the most effective of HCM’s outreaches is their Play It Forward program. PIF began in 2011 with a soccer team which holds students accountable to good grades, good character attributes including sportsmanship, and church attendance. PIF has since added a similar basketball program. Other outreaches are an associated orphanage and a preschool for indigent children.
Noah Halfon, a student member, and his family began their involvement with HCM in June of 2010 on a construction mission. The family has participated food distributions, book distributions in native Creole, a teacher workshop, water purification systems, and vacation Bible schools. Each trip has been unique in its purpose and experience.
This year, Noah’s mother Shanna Halfon was excited to bring the science kits created and sponsored by Exploding Bacon. These kits demonstrate simple scientific concepts such as magnetism, gravity, light, and simple machines. “The teachers were incredibly grateful to have hands-on material to help students relate to textbook learning and to promote interest in the study of science and technology.” Mrs Halfon shared. She demonstrated the kits in three villages: Nan Plaisir, Fonds Parisien, and Lak Azul (the Lake Village).
The Lake Village is a remote settlement hemmed in by mountains, the lake, and the Dominican Republic border and is only accessible by rowboat. Their school, as are most in Haiti, is funded solely through student sponsorships. We sponsor a 12 year old girl named Evena and I have the joy of seeing her every year. Classes only go through 5th grade due to lack of funding. This village has a distinct water problem in that there are no wells and the lake is brackish; all clean water must be trucked in from the Dominican Republic at great expense to the villagers.
“Explaining robotics, and more so Exploding Bacon, to students who cannot relate even to a Frisbee was challenging. I attempted to describe, through an interpreter, in the most simple terms what FIRST is. Students and their teachers participated in demonstrations and I worked to relate what they were learning to their every day life. Simple machines became a lesson in how to make work on a mountainside easier; the study of light and colors taught that lighter colors help keep a person (or house) cooler. Students’ favorite items were the prism and the pulley.” Mrs. Halfon explained.
“The thought I could not escape during the entire trip was that we, Exploding Bacon, and FIRST can do more. These children are eager to learn, they are innovative, and they are problem-solvers. My challenge to our students at home is to find a way to work with these Haitian students whether remotely or in person, whether it is more kits in more villages, or whether it is planting a FIRST team in Haiti. Our students may well find themselves changed as they change the world.”
We learned a lot from Mrs. Halfon’s experience. Having someone from the team work the the materials and instructions with the kids, gave us insight into how it was effective and what we needed to modify.