Students travel to Botswana on Service Learning Program

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Marcella Kennedy

The UofL International Service Learning Program (ISLP) began in 1997 with a program in Barbados. Since then, the UofL ISLP has extended programs to the Philippines, Botswana, Belize, Croatia, and Trinidad and Tobago. The ISL program involves sending students to different countries around the world to teach younger students about their respective disciplines.

This year the Botswana program was available to engineering students. Nine engineering students attended this year, including Marcella Kennedy, Stephanie Coffey, Ian Van Lierop, Lily Yang, Nick Hudson, Alec Thompson, Gabrielle Hamilton, Kayla Meisner, and Rachel O’Connor. The students were led by the civil engineering department head, Dr. J.P. Mohsen. These students spent the spring semester preparing lesson plans for junior secondary students at various schools in Gaborone, Botswana.

After much preparation, the students departed for Gaborone from April 29 through May 8. The group had three lesson plans prepared: designing and building straw bridges with masking tape, building simple solar cookers with cardboard and aluminum foil, and assembling small solar powered cars. The students departed, excited for the opportunity to share their passion with young Botswana.

Throughout the next week, these lesson plans were taught in classrooms at four schools: Nanogang, Maoka, and Kwena-Sereto junior secondary schools, and Hope Mission. These activities ignited a passion for science and problem solving in many of the students in Gaborone. Additionally, the Speed School students had time to discuss what engineers do, how to become an engineer, and why being an engineer is awesome.

In addition to teaching junior secondary students about engineering, the UofL reps also had the opportunity to engage in cultural exchange events with students from Botho University, representatives from the Botswana Ministry of Education, and faculty from many schools in Gaborone. In their spare time, students also had the pleasure of going on a trip to a game reserve in South Africa! It was an enriching first ISLP trip for engineering students, and many of them plan to return next year!

For more information on the UofL International Service Learning Program, please visit their website.

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