This year, the Science Center launched its first ever Science Extravaganza, showcasing all of the incredible projects students have been working on throughout the year. DJ’d by the newly formed ASYV Radio Station group, exhibits included an array of projects from each of the science laboratories: mechanics, electronics, computers and optics. 

One student in mechanics described his project, a Rube Goldberg machine, saying, “This is the machine to increase laziness.” He then guided another student to write on a piece of paper with a pen attached to a string that triggered a series of balls to drop and roll through tubes, which caused a stamp to imprint on the paper on which he was writing. 

The total display of projects from 2013 varied considerably. They included Enrichment Year (9th grade) teams building snap circuits that powered fans, turned on lights, played music and an AM radio. Students built miniature house and the switches necessary to turn power on and off, USB connected fans, and Senior 4 (10th grade) students built a bicycle that generates electricity when peddled, and an Arduino powered trivia buzzer system (the first of its kind in Rwanda) which was used during the final Village Quiz of 2013. There was also a biogas project where cow dung was used to generate gas that can be used for cooking.

In the optics lab students demonstrated how images are seen and the way our brains interpret what we are looking at when we view such images. One student in the optics lab said, “It is so amazing and so much fun to learn these things about the eyes. I understand so much more about how our biology works and the physics of our body.” 

In the area of computers, the Enrichment Year students made car driving games using Scratch programming. Senior 4 students had the opportunity to express themselves by building their own websites and a Senior 6 student showed off his RaspberryPi powered digital picture frame, also among the first of its kind in Rwanda.

Students and staff spent hours wandering through the exhibits, speaking with students about the projects they had worked on, and asking for explanations of how things worked. Jacky, who worked on the electricity-generating bicycle said, “I was in computers last year, but now I do electronics. I think it is very good for every student at ASYV… Teachers come from outside, maybe when we graduate we will need a job. Science Center can be very important for us because we learned many hints we can apply, which will help us in our lives and our families. In our families at home we can make electricity.”

Solange, who explained the bio gas project by saying, “I study Social Science at school so it was hard for me to do hard science. But, I’m in the Science Promotion Club and it has been an opportunity for me to get this knowledge. I was scared at first of this science. I thought there were people who could study science and others couldn't. I don’t know yet what I am going to do in life but, now I hope to use this in the future.” 

The Science Extravaganza was an incredible day honoring students’ creativity and the achievements of the Science Center this year. Jacky summed up her experience well when she said, “The Science Center encourages me to think, create new things, to try and make new things that I can teach to others. Many people don’t see things and think about what they can do or what it can become… Here they give us materials but all of us together sit and think about what we can make. We work together.”

Submitted by Long-Term Volunteer Shira Liff-Grieff