THE INCORPORATION OF THE USA ‘SCIENCE MADE SENSIBLE’ PROGRAM IN SOUTH AFRICAN PRIMARY SCHOOLS: A CROSS-CULTURAL APPROACH TO SCIENCE EDUCATION

  • Rian de Villiers University of Pretoria
  • Tiffany Plantan University of Miami Miami, FL, USA
  • Michael Gaines University of Miami Miami, FL, USA
Keywords: Science Made Sensible, United States, South Africa, learners, teachers, postgraduate students, natural sciences, hands-on, inquiry-based learning

Abstract

The Science Made Sensible (SMS) program began as a partnership between the University of Miami (UM), Florida, USA, and some public schools in Miami. In this program, postgraduate students from UM work with primary school science teachers to engage learners in science through the use of inquiry-based, hands-on activities. Due to the success of the SMS program in Miami, it was extended internationally. The SMS team (two Miami Grade 6/7 science teachers and two UM postgraduate students), 195 learners, and five South African teachers at two primary schools in Pretoria, South Africa, participated in this study. A quantitative research design was employed, and learners, teachers and UM postgraduate students used questionnaires to evaluate the SMS program. The results show that the SMS team was successful in reaching the SMS goals in these South African schools. More than 90% of the learners are of opinion that the SMS team from the USA made them more interested in the natural sciences and fostered an appreciation for the natural sciences. All the South African teachers plan to adopt and adapt some of the pedagogical strategies they learned from the SMS team. This article includes a discussion about the benefits of inquiry-based learning and the similarities and dissimilarities of USA and South Africa’s teaching methods in the science classrooms.
Published
2016-02-18
Section
Articles