Heathdale flower 08th August 2019

Looking at Space to Solve Earth's Problems

'Destination Moon: more missions, more science' is Heathdale's Science Week theme. But it's not just about space, it's also about solving real problems here on earth.

Heathdale flower

August 10th is the launch of National Science week. ‘Destination Moon: more missions, more science’ is the school theme. Teachers and students are poised to discover past missions to the Moon and space programs, as well as engage with current and future space programs, operations and missions. Many of these missions use big-picture scientific thinking to solve seemingly unsolvable problems, and technology, engineering and mathematics to design new solutions. Which is exactly the sort of thinking we encourage in our science curriculum.

It’s important that we take the time to stop and wonder in class, a skill that we adults often set aside in the busy-ness of life. Children have a natural awe of God’s creation, and our science curriculum starts from Prep by looking at the ‘wow’ moments. In the study of science, we are called to have a worship response; to marvel at and discover what we have been given to take care of.

It is also important in our lessons that we inspire our children to use their scientific gifts to bring about peace and restoration. To be agents of change, redemption and healing for the sick. Therefore, we teach every lesson through a specific lens. The lens is: Is this a good idea long term? Do we reduce suffering and improve conditions if we do this?

We can’t all be the next Thomas Edison, but someone from this school may come up with a simple solution that has a dramatic effect. Just like the following:
In many parts of rural Africa, where the lack of access to or high cost of electricity prevents many people from basics most of us take for granted, like refrigerators. Bah Abba’s innovative food-cooling system adapted old-world technology into inexpensive, portable refrigerators that are particularly effective in desert climates, where fruits, vegetables, and other perishables can quickly spoil. Abba saw an opportunity to raise living standards for rural Nigerians. In the late 1990s, he developed a pot-in-pot system that could extend the shelf life of perishables from a couple of days to weeks.

His concept costs about two dollars and is decidedly low tech. It consists of two earthenware pots, one smaller than the other. The outer pot is filled with wet sand, while the inner pot, used to store foods, is covered with a wet cloth.

As the water in the sand in the outer pot evaporates, the inner pot is cooled to as low as 40ºF, preventing bacteria from flourishing and keeping foods, or even vaccines that require refrigeration, safe.

Before his death in 2010, Abba continually refined the pot-in-pot system, then hired local potmakers — at his own expense — to mass-produce a first batch of 5000 pots, distributing them to five villages. He eventually supplied another dozen local villages with 7000 pots.

Over 100,000 earthenware pots — once hailed by Time magazine as one of the best inventions of the year — have been distributed in rural Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad, Eritrea, and Sudan.

The moon might seem a stretch too far, but simple clay pot ideas are much more manageable. Let’s try to encourage our children to take simple ideas and put them to good use, more science is what we need. What did your child learn in science today?